Online Privacy

How The LGBT Community Can Protect Their Privacy Online

Online security is an issue that concerns everyone who spends any time online. As a member of the LGBT community, you may have particular concerns about this matter. If that’s something you can relate with, you’ll appreciate the advice dispensed in this article.

According to both US and UK based research, there has been a notable increase in cases of cyberbullying against LGBTQ people and their communities. Do you ever worry that some of your sensitive information will be accessed by unwanted eyes? There are many ways that you could be inadvertently exposing yourself online. Fortunately, there are simply actions you can take to keep your separate online personas airtight from one another.

If you’ve been looking for ways to improve your privacy online, this article will provide a useful checklist. Truth of the matter, online security for LGBT people isn’t that really different from anyone else’s security.

There are multiple layers to keep in mind if you want to keep your online presence anonymous. From simply favoring incognito mode on your browser, to using a proxy-based browser to access the web, to being mindful of your browsing history and social media sharing habits, here we’ll go through some of the simplest strategies you can start using now to immediately improve your online security.

Consider using ad blockers

When it comes to managing your privacy online, a good place to start is installing a good ad blocker. Failing to do so, every website you visit will keep tracking your behaviors and trying to get information that will help profile you as a consumer. In order to remain anonymous and avoid being profiled, your easiest option is simply to install and ad blocker – which may also prove useful in many other ways, if you also dislike seeing ads.

Clean your cookies and history

A simple way to keep things private regarding your online activities and browsing habits is to get in the habit of cleaning your cookies and browser history every now and then. While this isn’t really a security measure in itself, it’s a simple way to covering up your recent activities from anyone who may get access to your computer while looking to invade your privacy. Just remember that you’re just erasing the information available in your computer – in most cases the servers on the other side will keep a log of your every move. Unless…

Keep your browser in Incognito mode

Since most modern websites make a point of storing as much information as possible about their visitors, you can’t really go unnoticed on the Internet since your every move is essentially tracked and monitored. A simple way to mitigate this excessive prying is simply to get in the habit of using your browser’s incognito mode, since this keeps cookies and other tracking related files from being stored in your computer.

Start using TOR to access the web

An even better way to keep your websites from gathering information about you is by using what could be the world’s safest web browser – TOR – since asides for not storing information about your online activities, it also provides additional security layers to keep whereabouts anonymous. While TOR has a bad reputation for being used for shady people to browser the dark web, you can use it to visit the regular web as well – and leave no footprints.

Favor secured messaging apps

Most instant messaging apps have knack for gathering logs of all your activity and chats, and the respective companies will often keep this information and sometimes do business around your data even after you stop using their apps. If this isn’t something you’re happy with, consider switching to messaging apps like Telegram and Signal – which cater to sensitive conversations by using advanced encryption.

Be mindful of app permissions

If you’re serious about upholding your privacy online, you also have to be more careful about the apps you choose to install in your mobile devices – otherwise you can easily add a security loophole without meaning to. You see, all apps require specific device permissions for installing, which can go from just surface aspects of your phone to full hardware access. If you don’t pay attention to whether the requested permissions are reasonable before installing an app (like many people don’t) – you can easily make your phone unsafe.

Keep your devices updated

Another thing to keep in mind about mobile devices (and even regular computers, to some degree), is the importance to keep firmware and software updated to the latest versions at all times. That’s because hackers keep looking for ways to exploit pretty much any device by tinkering with its software vulnerabilities; developers on the other hand keep doing security updates on their software as new loopholes are found… so make sure to update sooner rather than later.

So you really want to use Facebook?

Anyone who is concerned about keeping their online activities private should consider not using social media, especially Facebook – at all. Not only because those websites are all about encouraging people to reveal too much personal information, but simply because they are well known to exploit the data gathered from users. There is no effective way to absolutely terminate your Facebook account, and everything you post in there will be recorded in data analysis databases for many purposes – if you absolutely don’t want this, maybe it’s time to reconsider if you really want to be using Facebook and other social media websites.

Understanding Google data mining

A similar reasoning as above applies to essentially all Google services, ranging from Gmail to Docs, Drive, etc. At this point, Google is not only a search engine – it’s a huge data mining operation that gathers data from its billions of users. Whenever you’re logged in to any of your Google accounts, all of your web searches are kept on file, all the webpages you visit are logged, including how long you spend there and what your user intent likely was. You really don’t have any chance anonymity on the web while you’re using those very useful but very nosy Google services.

The dark side of virtual assistants

And if you are now a bit apprehensive over the notion that search engines and social media websites are keeping a track record of your every move, you need to realize that some of your devices could be doing more than just monitoring your keystrokes. If you use virtual assistants on your phone or services like Amazon Echo, you’re effectively being listened to and recorded every single waking moment! Those services actually need to be “actively listening” to work as intended, which means they’re effectively spying on every word you say.

As you can see, there are many different angles to keep in mind when you’re trying to improve your online security! While there are no 100% safe ways to be safe on-line, you can drastically improve the anonymity of your data by implementing the advice listed here.