Privacy 101 Checklist

A list of things you can and should do to increase your internet privacy. Click each one you currently do to rate your privacy acumen with our “Priv-O-Meter”! (See descriptions of each below for more info. )

Use a Password Manager

Update Your Software

Be Cautious with Email

Definitely Use a VPN

Don’t Share Your Address Book

Protect Your Credit Cards

Opt Out of Cloud Records

Don’t Share Your Location

Be Skeptical of “Deals”

Be Disciplined with Your Apps

Freeze Your Credit for Safety

Make Searches Safer for Kids

Use a Password Manager

Coming up with effective passwords for every site you visit is tedious; remembering all of them is nearly impossible. Password managers do that work for you—and they do it better. Some are free; the good ones are not. But any password manager is better than none. Get one.

Update Your Software

Yes, those incessant reminders to update the software on your computer and phone are annoying. They’re also good recommendations. Software updates often include security patches—bits of code to address vulnerabilities in operating systems and programs. Think of it this way: old, outdated software has spent a lot of time in the hands of hackers. They know the flaws and how to exploit them. Software updates fix those weaknesses.

Learn More: Say Yes to Software Updates

Be Cautious with Email

Assume anything you send in an email will be read by someone other than the person to whom you’ve addressed it. So don’t send sensitive info via email: personal secrets, social security numbers and banking information should all stay out of your emails. And on the receiving end, treat any strange, out-of-the-ordinary email you get with suspicion. If a friend writes out of the blue to ask you for money, it’s probably not your friend writing. And never click on links in an email if you aren’t 100% certain about who sent it to you.

Definitely Use a VPN

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) provide encrypted connections between your computer and a server. When you use a VPN, it’s a lot more difficult for anyone to intercept and make sense out of the information flowing to and from your computer or phone. Lots of companies sell effective, affordable VPNs. Here’s a recent review of some popular options. Full disclosure: our parent company, Blindcut, offers a VPN, too. It’s a good option!

Learn more: What’s a VPN, and Why Do I Need One?

Don’t Share Your Address Book

You’ve just downloaded a new app, and it asks for access to your address book. Giving it access to your address book makes you vulnerable to snoops, hackers and data-miners. Keep your Address Book private.

Protect Your Credit Cards

Every time you use your credit card online you open yourself up to potential identity theft  or worse. Use a VPN, or pay with a service like Paypal, using two factor identification.

Opt Out of Cloud Records

Healthcare providers and schools are trying to streamline their systems by uploading their patient and student records to the cloud. When possible, decline this option. Keep your sensitive data out of the cloud.

Don’t Share Your Location

Sharing your location puts your privacy—and perhaps your safety—at risk. That’s the downside, and it outweighs just about any upside. When an application, like Snapchat, or website asks to access your location or share it, just say no.

Be Skeptical of “Deals”

Does the email seem a little off? Does the app seem too eager for you to share personal data? Does it seem too easy to get that $100 coupon off your next purchase? If it seems too good or too dire to be true, it probably is. Invite the skeptic into your brain and put on your critical lens. Sadly, the internet is not as free and wonderful as you want it to be.

Be Disciplined with Your Apps

The fewer apps the better. Unsubscribe from and delete any apps you’re not using. Turn Siri off so it’s not always intrusively listening. Whenever possible, don’t let apps access your contacts, location, or other apps.

Freeze Your Credit for Safety

Contact the three major credit bureaus or your bank and ask them to freeze your credit. It will restrict access to your credit history, walling off that information from data-miners and identity thieves — really, it’s the only thing that can truly protect you from identity theft. It’s a key component of a stout defense, and it’s quick, easy and free!

Make Searches Safer for Kids

Use a child-safe search engine that doesn’t allow advertising or let third-party hosts track their digital activity. Some options include Kiddle, Quark, Duck Duck Go, or our favorite Seekadoo. Ensure that letting your child online doesn’t expose them to inappropriate content or compromise their privacy.

Visit our sister site Seekadoo to learn about our kid-friendly search engine.