Basic steps to more privacy and security online

So what are the first steps you can take to keep your personal data and digital life safe and private?

Use this quick privacycheck for yourself, or to forward to your friends or family.

Update all your software first

Check regularly for updates available for (all) your devices and install them immediately. Think of your computer, laptop, Android or iOS devices. Also don’t forget to check the firmware of your router and smart devices in your home. This is not only good for your privacy but more importantly for your security.

Use a password manager

Security experts recommend using a different password for each account you create. But how are you going to remember all those passwords? Not in a notebook! Just use a secure password manager such as Bitwarden.

Use 2FA wherever possible

If you enable 2FA (two factor authentication), a second authentication method is requested in addition to your password. This protects all your accounts, even if a password falls into the wrong hands. Read more about setting up 2FA here.

Use a privacy-friendly browser

You should be able to do banking and insurance business safely without having dozens of parties watching your browsing habits via cookies. Your browser should be secure, fast and privacy-friendly. We recommend Firefox. For mac users, the Safari browser is already a good choice. In any case, do not use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.

Use a privacy-friendly search engine

Every search can reveal personal information about you, such as financial information, political beliefs and other piquant private details. Instead of Google Search -which tracks and stores all your searches- try searching with a search engine that does respect your privacy, such as DuckDuckGo or Startpage.

Use Signal

Are you still using WhatsApp? WhatsApp is owned by Meta (formerly Facebook), a company that makes money by collecting as much information about its users as possible. Information(metadata) such as who and how often you chat with, what time it was, with what phone number, your location, and so on. We recommend that you use Signal.

Mail secure and privacy friendly

In general, e-mail is not the safest way to communicate. Usually your emails are stored without encryption on the provider’s servers. That means that basically anyone who has access to that server can read your mail. Use protonmail or Tutanota if you want to be able to mail securely and confidentially.

Make use of e-mail aliases. For example, use 1 e-email address for important matters such as banking. You do not give this e-mail address to anyone else. Then create an e-mail alias for other things. For example, one e-mail address for friends and family and another address for newsletters and various Internet accounts. Even better is to create a different e-mail alias for each service. You can do this with a service such as SimpleLogin.

Delete or control your social media accounts

Ai! For most people, this feels like quitting smoking. And that feeling is true. Social Media is as addictive as smoking or drinking. Still, this step is the biggest step you can take to improve your privacy.

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In case you really can’t say goodbye to Facebook, hold a big cleanup sometime. Remove as much personal information from your profile as possible. What this information can be misused by cybercriminals. Read more about Phishing here.