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Kunal Varma

Kunal Varma is Co-founder & Head of Products at MoneyTap. Kunal is a serial entrepreneur having founded two other companies before MoneyTap. In his previous avatar, Kunal was the cofounder and CEO of Tapstart (formerly Skillwiz), a job discovery platform for consumers. It touched the lives of more than 300K consumers in less than two years of launch and exited in 2015.

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Ways to Protect Your Privacy as More Apps Accumulate your Data

With the digital lives we lead, it is natural to be worried about how to keep your personal information safe.

In today’s digital age, information overload is a reality. While we tap away on our smartphones and tablets to converse, engage and even carry out mundane chores online, little do we realise the amount of personal information we give out, often quite unconsciously. For example, there are numerous third-party apps accessing our contact details or our financial details being stored on e-wallets to make our next purchase oh-so-much faster and convenient. We give out our private and confidential information without a second thought. Perhaps anonymity that the web affords us makes it easy for us to believe no one is tracking our details, but it is important not be carried away and to actively protect our privacy. Otherwise we are making ourselves vulnerable to cybercrimes.

Here are some ready tips on how to protect personal information online:

  • Read the privacy policy: We often check the “Accept” checkbox with a hastened sigh when we are asked to read the privacy policy on new website. But did you know that this very policy can turn out to be like the fine-print in insurance policies - a tricky trap? When signing up for a new app or tool, read the details on how the app can use your data for its own benefit. If you feel uncomfortable, opt out. There are many apps that can meet your need, without the restricting terms and conditions.
  • Browse privately: Almost every web browser comes with the option to delete cookies, temporary Internet files and browsing history after you close the browser. Most websites infiltrate your privacy by accessing these files and capturing information about you and your habits. Ever wondered where the highly targeted ads which seem to meet your needs perfectly come from? These are the very sources. So, turning on private browsing means that your information is your own, not for marketing agencies to use, and this helps protect your internet privacy.
  • Limit your social media settings: The latest selfie clicked with friends on Instagram or the status update on Facebook about your latest shopping spree - this can tell outsiders hordes about you and in a way that you may not like! Review all privacy settings on your social media accounts - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and so on. Share only with friends and keep your visibility to a minimum. This is one of the crucial ways to protect your privacy online.
  • Know about the company: Whenever a new brand or business reaches out to you to engage with you, you should take it easy and do your due diligence before blindly engaging with it. This starts with getting to know the business model completely. We are often lured into the scam of “free products,” but in reality, no offering is ever truly free. If a company is offering you unbelievable services at a pittance, they may be making their moolah by monetizing your data – i.e. selling your personal details to aggregators, marketers etc. Learn to identify suspicious businesses and stay away from them.
  • Undergo an app-audit: It is a common practice to engage with an app and then forget all about it. Or add any anonymous seemingly “useful” acquaintance on Facebook and then forget you did so. This is dangerous, and may lead to you losing control over your apps and accounts. It is a good practice to periodically revisit your friends list, associated pages, third-party apps which are connected to your accounts etc. On Facebook this is visible under “Apps” tab, on Google under “Connected apps & sites” tab and on the “Apps” page under “Settings and privacy.” It is good to carry out this audit at least once a year.
  • Secure your payments: Online payments is an easy gateway for fraudsters and cyber criminals to dig your financial data, posing a huge financial risk to you. Avoid saving financial details in payment apps and e-wallets, and do not ever divulge your payment details over the phone. Another element is sharing the pin code while making purchases. This is a great way for nearby marketers to locate and sell to you. Hence avoid sharing your pin-code details while shopping online and stay anonymous on the internet. Stick to two-factor authentication for making payments, so that you must key in a security code before a payment is authenticated.

With the digital lives we lead, it is natural to be worried about how to keep your personal information safe. There are several ways to protect privacy on internet, it is only a question of having the willingness to make positive changes in your habits. One of the important things to do is to be aware about cyber law, and thereby know your rights. Awareness, coupled with action can go a long way in keeping your information secure and safe from the miscreants of the virtual world.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


Tags assigned to this article:
Apps Data Apps Security

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