5 actions you can take now to improve your online privacy

It’s January 28 and that means it’s Data Privacy Day! At Opera, your privacy and security comes first. We’d like to use this opportunity to put online trackers in the spotlight and create awareness to help you protect yourself and your personal information from websites that might be overdoing it and collecting too much information about you.

These are 5 simple steps you can take to browse more confidently, more privately, and more securely today. 

1. Reduce online tracking with Ad blocker

An ad blocker is much more than a tool that lets you block annoying ads. It’s also a privacy tool that lets you stop trackers. 

Online trackers are scripts introduced by websites to collect information about your interests and the way you interact with a website. Some of these trackers are created by websites to provide you with a more comfortable and personalised experience, while some third party trackers might come from other websites you have never visited or even heard of before. 

The Ad blocker is a powerful shield to protect your privacy from third party trackers, embedded scripts, and cryptojacking. The Opera browsers come with a built-in ad blocker that removes annoying ads from the web, giving you more browsing speed, and decreasing the degree of tracking you are subjected to. 

To get an overview of the online trackers that have been blocked with the built-in ad blocker in the Opera browser, simply tap on the blue shield in the search bar of your browser.

2. Browse in a private window 

Your browsing history belongs to you only, and no one should be able to track or see what you were searching for. 

Browsing on a private window will not record your browsing history nor your browsing activity, the data you searched for is removed as soon as you close your browser window, giving you more privacy with your website searches. Other elements, like trackers (cookies) from websites you’ve visited, will also be deleted automatically once the browsing session is over. 

Keep in mind that browsing in a private window will not hide or delete all your online activity. For example, a bookmark of a website or a file you’ve downloaded from a private window will not be deleted after you finish your browsing session. At the end of the day, there was a reason why you decided to bookmark that particular website or download a specific file. 

3. Enable your browser VPN 

A Virtual Private Network, commonly known as VPN, is a great way to create a protected network connection from your device, especially if you are using a public Wi-Fi network. 

The Opera VPN protects you online by enhancing your online privacy. This means your data is encrypted in transit and won’t be intercepted when on unsecured Wi-Fi networks. The data also goes through our servers first, so websites you visit cannot see your real IP. It requires no subscription, no payment, and no additional extensions.

4. Keep your software up to date 

This might sound like the easiest thing to do, but it’s often neglected and very important. Most of us ignore update reminders on our PC or Mac, telling ourselves that we’ll do it next time. The longer you postpone a software update, the higher the chances that a vulnerability in your software has already been actively exploited by hackers. This is particularly important for browsers and your operating system (e.g. Android, Windows, macOS). 

Outdated software comes with vulnerabilities and is an easy way for malicious parties or hackers to access your personal data. Updates and upgrades in software are necessary maintenance for keeping your devices healthy. A good practice is to regularly check for updates or upgrades in your Opera browser. Update your browser as soon as you see a reminder that a new version is available. 

5. Never stop learning

There’s much more that you can do to improve your privacy online, and you can always adjust your browser settings. A good start is to make sure that your ad blocker, tracker blocker and cryptomining protections are on.

Opera has also published a series of blog posts with short stories about privacy. Use a private window. Understand VPN. Always make sure your address bar displays a TLS padlock. Be careful with extensions. Lastly, be careful out there, because bad guys are phishing

If this information has been valuable to you, feel free to share it with more people. Tell your family and friends what you’ve learned and share your experiences with them. We want everyone to be aware of what they can do today to improve their online privacy and security. Share with them what you’ve learned and your experiences. We want to raise awareness of data privacy day and what people can do today to improve their online privacy and security. 

Happy browsing!

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