How to GDPR Yourself

May 22, 2018By Deanna Sheward

The European Union law on data protection General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becomes enforceable in just a few days (May 25, 2018). It governs the way businesses carry out data-gathering and data-processing.

First adopted on April 14, 2016, the GDPR extends the digital rights of EU citizens and residents and aims to give users more control over their personal data. This legislation applies to non-EU based companies who handle any EU citizen’s data and non-EU residents whose data is used by an EU company.

Three key elements of this law are: the right to access your personal data and information, the right to request the erasure of this data, and the requirement that data harvesters get specific and unambiguous consent from users before collecting their data. Businesses that don’t comply with GDPR policies will face steep penalties.

It’s possible that these new privacy laws – especially if they work well – will change the Internet for users on the other side of the pond. While we surely hope that’s the case, we wanted to put together a list of the top 10 things you can do today, in the spirit of this new legislation, to “GDPR” yourself and further protect your personal data.
 

1. Use a VPN or Virtual Private Networks.

VPNs enhance your online privacy and anonymity by allowing you to access a secure private network while sharing data across a public network. They also use encryption protocols, so even if someone was able to grab your transmitted data, they’d have a hard time using it because it would be encrypted.

2. Get an anti-tracking tool for all the browsers you use.

Anti-tracking extensions identify third-party trackers (scripts that monitor what you do while visiting specific websites) and allow you to choose whether to block those trackers or not. When looking at the top 500 websites in the US, almost 90% of these pages contain trackers – there’s no denying the prevalence of tracking scripts! Trackers not only monitor your online behavior to build a profile about you, they also slow down page loads and pose a significant privacy risk.

3. Use a dedicated ad blocker.

Once you stop trackers from accessing your personal data, you’re well on your way to better online privacy, but your browsing can still be bogged down by ads that are often unwanted and obtrusive. Beyond the annoyance factor, some advertising is downright dangerous. “Malvertising” is where a malicious advertiser will buy ad space on a legitimate website and then place ads on this site that are infected with viruses, spyware, or malware. There are lots of good ad blockers out there today and if you’re looking for a tool that blocks both ads and trackers, Ghostery is a great option.

4. Change your passwords.

Don’t use the same password for multiple sites, particularly sites that contain sensitive information like credit card, health, or financial data. You can also create stronger passwords with a password manager like LastPass. Password managers help you generate strong unique passwords for the all the different sites you have a login for.

5. Watch out for phishing schemes

Don’t open emails that seem suspicious or that aren’t from someone you know and trust. If you receive an email from someone you do know that seems a bit off, ask your contact if they sent the message to ensure that their email account hasn’t been hacked. And definitely don’t click on any links that might be in the body of these suspicious emails. There are also browsers that protect you against phishing. For example, Cliqz offers a browser that has an anti-phishing feature that detects deceptive websites trying to access your passwords or personal data.

6. Adjust your privacy settings

When setting up your accounts or updating your settings after the account has been created, you should always consider choosing the settings that limit third party access as far as possible. Whether it’s your Facebook settings your adjusting or the settings for your operating system, you should look and see the ways you can restrict access to your data.

7. Use encryption

Secure your Wi-Fi connection with WPA2 encryption and make sure your connection is encrypted when you surf the web, do any online shopping, and especially before you provide any sensitive data. For email and messaging services, choose an end-to-end encrypted service. Finally, when you’re using public, unencrypted Wi-Fi, make sure you’ve got a VPN running so that any data you transmit will be encrypted.

8. Complete software updates

You know all those times your phone or computer has reminded you to update your software, and you said to yourself that you’d do it later? Well, try and do those software updates as soon as you find out about them. These updates often contain critical patches for your device or operating system that are released specifically to protect you from attackers who may have already identified the vulnerability that the
patches are designed to fix.

9. Monitor your credit health

There are plenty of credit monitoring tools out there, plus everyone is entitled to one free credit report from each of the credit reporting bureaus once a year. Why should you do this? Keeping an eye on your credit is recommended to make sure that no one is opening accounts under your name or doing any other fraudulent activity that would put your identity at risk.

10. Choose wisely who you share your personal data with

Advertisers and hackers are always hoping that internet users recklessly share their personal data. As we’ve seen recently, while not everything is within your control – the Equifax hack proved this – it’s important to beware of to whom and where you give your data. Using tools like Ghostery and Cliqz ensures that when you do share stuff, no personal identifiable information (PII) is passed on to third parties.
 

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