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5 simple tips to protect your privacy online

By Rovin Cutinho
May 08, 2020 08:50 IST
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When given an option of signing up to a service that is new to you, check for social signups via established products like Google, Facebook, Twitter etc.

Image published for representational purposes only. Photograph: Courtesy methodshop/

Today, we are practically online all the time.

Security has hence become hygiene for us. We deserve to have the security of experts without having to be experts ourselves.

Although the onus towards building secure environment lie on companies that build user-centric products.

There are quite a few things users can do at their end which pay off high returns in the longer run. Much like most good habits, the lack of these practices has much more pronounced downside than the observable upside of exercising these. At the best you can use the products as they are without losing anything that belongs to you, at worst you lost everything including your identity.

Here are five pointers for users to build sustainably secure environments amid COVID-19 lockdown:

1. Frugality in permissions

Applications often have the tendency to ask for permissions beyond what they require.

Users should be careful around such permissions by disallowing all unnecessary ones.

In fact, in 2020, applications asking for permissions that don't make sense aren't exactly trusted or much used for that matter.

2. Update products

For products like browsers, messaging apps that users use every day and depend a lot on, users should be in the habit of updating them regularly to their latest versions.

Teams behind such products are typically working on security patches for vulnerabilities they discover around the clock.

3. Smaller digital footprint

Your digital footprint is essentially the amount of identifiable data we leave behind on the various products we use online.

Reducing that, means releasing lesser information to strangers.

Everyday we share locations, signup to services, give credit card info etc to new services.

These actions happen so many times through the week that the sheer probability of one of them backfiring for us is considerable.

Like most habits, exercising control on this is something we should act on atomically.

It's easier to think twice every time you share some data with a new service, than to dig out everything you've shared over a period of time to a multitude of products.

4. Using Social Signups

When given an option of signing up to a service that is new to you, check for social signups via established products like Google, Facebook, Twitter etc.

This allows limiting security vulnerabilities to a single point of failure which is heavily backed by teams supporting millions of customers online on products which have abundant resources backing their own security.

It's easier to trust Gmail than to trust an established chain of hotels whose prime concern isn't tech or security.

5. Multi-Factor Authentication(MFA) 

In an environment where password thefts are getting increasingly sophisticated, having multiple touchpoints to create layered authentication is vital.

We should use MFA by leading brands like Google to secure our passwords wherever supported.

General guidelines like these take users a long way towards staying protected online.

However, it's always wise to think before you click; it's hard to undo mistakes in the digital realm.

Rovin Cutinho is chief product officer at Canvs, an online community of designers. He can be contacted on

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Rovin Cutinho