How to stop companies spying on you

Every time your phone or computer connects to a website or a WiFi hotspot, every time you make a purchase or carry out a search or even take a photograph, a wealth of information about your activities is being gathered. If the thought of this makes you uncomfortable, read on for a few tips on how to make yourself a little more invisible.

Provide less information

A growing number of social media users are becoming convinced that the companies behind such products are spying on them, listening in on their conversations using the microphones in their smartphones or laptops.

Worried users are flooding discussion forums with examples of times they talked about a particular product or person, only to find an advertisement for the product or friend suggestion appear on their screens a short time later.

Facebook and other social media companies deny such behavior, but the simple fact is that the vast amount of information we constantly provide about ourselves – such as our locations and, through our web history, our shopping and leisure preferences, mean such companies have more than enough information to make informed guesses about the things we might be interested in. If you want to cut down on the information such companies have about you, provide them with less.

Switch off location services

Keeping your phone connected to the cloud and activating location services means providing a large number of companies with your exact location at any given time. This is easily fixed by turning off this facility and not allowing your phone to connect to Wifi services automatically. One issue with turning off all your connections to the cloud is that your devices will no longer be able to automatically backup their contents. This means that any photographs you take or documents you write risk being lost if your device malfunctions or is lost or stolen.

If you want the best of both worlds, you should allow your device to backup its contents on a regular basis from the location of your choice to a high-quality service such as that offered by Secure Backup. This way, should the worst happen, you know that all of your precious memories and information will be safe.

Switch to another search provider

Information about your search history is stored by most internet service providers, but if you are diligent, you can find a few smaller companies that promise not to track the data you input. If this kind of privacy is important to you, then it is worth investing the time into finding a search company that has a business model you agree with.

Make use of a VPN

Another way to protect yourself is to use a VPN, a proxy system that allows you to hide your location and the identity of your computer from whichever site you wish to connect to. You can use VPNs directly from your computer and also from your phone or tablet.

Although some free VPN services are available, they usually operate by taking some of the data you provide and selling it on to third parties, making it something of a pointless exercise. If you want to be truly safe, you will need to pay for such a service. However, make sure you read the small print of whichever VPN provider you opt for to ensure they will keep your data secure.

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