Data plays a significant role in our everyday lives, something that has been made all too clear over the last few years.

With businesses and governments determined to collect as much data about us as possible, it isn’t easy to maintain privacy while taking advantage of the full range of online services that many of us use on a daily basis. The enormous amount of false and misleading information about online privacy that’s floating around isn't helping the situation, either.

With so much conflicting advice out there, it can be hard to know what the best practices for maintaining online privacy are. Correcting the following common myths is the first step towards living a more private online life.

1. Hackers Only Target VIPs

The most high-profile hacks are, naturally, the ones that hit the biggest targets, or those that affect a large number of people. However, the majority of hacking that occurs is against much more mundane targets, small businesses, and individuals.

The motivation for a hack will often determine the target. Sometimes, the hacker will be pursuing a personal vendetta. In other cases, profit's the motive.

When you think about it, however, you will quickly realize that there are a number of reasons a hacker might be interested in targeting the average person. We live more of our lives online today than anyone could have anticipated.

This includes things like social media, which mediates most of our interactions these days, and online banking. Any personal information hackers can obtain, can also be exploited. You shouldn’t assume that hackers won’t be interested in you.

2. Private Browsing is Anonymous Browsing

Most internet browsers these days offer an incognito or private browsing mode. While these modes are great for hiding your browsing habits from other users of the same computer, they do not provide the kind of online privacy that most people are seeking and that many people assume they are getting.

Private browsing is undoubtedly better than the standard mode as far as privacy goes because it prevents websites from collecting cookies, which they use for tracking users. This is a step in the right direction, but it is a far cry from the kind of measures that you need to take for maximum online privacy.

3. If Your Facebook Profile is Private, Only Friends Can See Your Information

Facebook offers its users a range of different settings which allows them to tailor their online privacy. These settings allow users to decide who can see them, and the content that they post to the site.

Ever since the first reports of collusion between Facebook and the data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, many Facebook users have become more concerned about just how secure their data is. In fact, the only way to ensure that no one is able to access your data through Facebook is not to use the service at all.

4. Any VPN Will Keep Your Safe

VPNs are an excellent tool for improving your online privacy, but they are not all equally well suited for the task. For one thing, you should never trust a free VPN service; these usually serve to make you less secure.

A VPN is worth paying for if you are serious about maintaining your privacy as effectively as possible. There are a variety of providers out there. Be sure to research the best one for your needs.

5. Your Phone Will Keep You Secure in Public

Public Wi-Fi is incredibly useful for those of us who regularly need a connection on the go. Using mobile data is not always convenient, or reliable so Wi-Fi networks can be a godsend.

Unfortunately, these networks are not always secure. In fact, it is usually safer to use your mobile data network, which will be much harder to intercept.

6. Going Offline Keeps Data Safe

Staying offline will keep you safe from most types of attack, but there is an ever-growing amount of malware that attacks physical storage devices. Malware and viruses can be spread via infected USB drives and other storage mediums, meaning that a computer can get infected without ever connecting to the internet.

Achieving online privacy isn’t quite as easy as most of us would like it to be. However, by taking a few relatively simple steps, it is easy to make yourself much harder to track.