3. Protect your privacy

Limit the amount of personal information you share

The simplest way you can protect your privacy online is to limit the amount of information you share in the first place. Be particularly careful about sharing personal information (date of birth, address, phone numbers) online.

activity Protect your personal information online

Downloading and installing apps

The eSafety Commission has eSafety guides for different apps with tips on how to protect your personal information and security.

Before you get an app check:

  1. Whether it is from a reputable source
  2. Online reviews to verify its safety
  3. Your privacy and security settings.

When you install the app:

  1. Don’t use the same log in details you use for other apps e.g. your Facebook account
  2. Read the installation messages carefully
  3. Turn off in-app purchases
  4. Pay attention to any notices or emails you receive for the app, in case there are changes.

If you have concerns but are required to install an app or software on your device for work or study:

  1. Check your privacy settings prior to installation
  2. Make sure you have installed antivirus software and it is up to date
  3. Log out of any programs you don’t want running at the same time
  4. Consider temporarily removing any sensitive data to another location, such as a hard drive or another device
  5. Make sure to fully uninstall the app when you are finished:

Alternative facts!

Don’t be phish food! recommends giving ‘alternative facts’, rather than your real details, for platforms that require you to complete a user profile but have no good reason for needing that information.

Don’t do this for official websites that need your real data, such as banking, educational institutions or government sites as that would have legal implications.

Social media privacy settings

Regularly check your social media privacy settings:

  1. Set your profile to private
  2. Only accept friend requests from people you know and trust
  3. Disable location sharing.

Don’t use the same password between services and platforms

Read our section on password management and consider using a password manager.

Share information through appropriate channels

Some online tools are not appropriate places to share information. Personal information should generally not be shared on unencrypted services or websites.

You may want to consider setting up a virtual private network (VPN), which creates a point-to-point secure connection. UQ has a VPN available for UQ student and staff.

Read The Best VPN Services for 2023 by PCMag and scroll down to watch the video on how a VPN works.

When choosing a VPN, you may need to consider factors such as:

  • cost
  • speed
  • location
  • device and operating systems compatibility.

Block third-party cookies and trackers

Consider installing a browser extension to stop internet tracking. Reputable extensions are:

Note: Blocking third-party cookies can cause issues accessing your lecture recordings, Turnitin or the ePortfolio system. If you are concerned about privacy, an alternative to allowing third party cookies is allowing exceptions to individual websites.

Review your browser settings

  • Your browser settings can be adjusted to provide extra protection against cookies and trackers.
  • It also helps to regularly delete cookies that you may have collected during browsing, to stop websites remembering your past behaviour.
  • Make sure you regularly update your browser to the latest version.

Read the eSafety Commissioner’s information on Web browsers.

They cover a number of ways to help protect yourself while online.


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Digital Security Copyright © 2023 by The University of Queensland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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