Ways to Guard Your Online Privacy

Email Tips

  • Contact the large directory services such as Bigfoot, InfoSpace, Switchboard, Yahoo People Search, and who where, to tell them you don't want to be listed.
  • Don't read email on a machine that doesn't belong to you or someone you trust. If you use a browser to read email on someone's machine, use the browser's clear history tool when you finish to prevent subsequent users from getting into your mailbox.
  • Don't reply to any unsolicited emails. Even unsubscribing will alert the senders that your email address is being used.
  • Don't send sensitive personal messages on your work machine.
  • Encrypt and digitally sign all your sensitive email messages. If your messaging software doesn't support robust encryption, download PGP Freeware encryption software and use that.
  • Find out if your ISP has a spam blocking service. If not, sign up for a third party spam blocking service such as Brightmail.
  • Keep your antivirus software updated at all times.
  • To avoid cookies sent via email, use email client software, such as Eudora Pro, that lets you shut off its automatic web browser rendering engine.
  • Use WinZip software to compress and password protect your attachments.
  • Use your messaging software's filtering tools to reject mail from your frequent spammers' email addresses or with certain words (sex, for example) in the subject line.

Web Browsing

  • Before you give your credit card number to any commerce site, make absolutely sure it's secure. Look for a closed padlock icon at the bottom of the screen or https in the URL.
  • Delete all the cookies in your cookie directory (generally c:\windows\cookies) frequently.
  • Disable cookies in your browser (an extreme measure) or set your browser to alert you to cookies, or to accept only cookies that return to their original server or, better yet, install cookie management software (such as Webroot Software's Window Washer or The Limit Software's Cookie Crusher) to control which cookies your PC will accept.
  • Elect not to accept news or updates from websites you visit.
  • Fake your return address when you use chat or newsgroups.
  • If a website gives you the option to opt out of tracking, take it.
  • If you have a fast and constant DSL or cable connection, get some personal firewall software, such as Symantec's Norton Personal FireWall or Network ICE's BlackICE Defender, and install it, fast!
  • If you're reluctant to provide certain information on an online form, don't.
  • Read website privacy policies carefully and make sure you understand them. Look on your favorite websites for privacy seals of approval from BBBOnline, TRUSTe, ePublicEye, or CPA WebTrust.
  • Set up a special free email account with Yahoo, Hotmail, or other free services and supply those addresses when you fill out forms.
  • Set your instant messaging software to allow only people you trust (in your buddy list, for example) to access you.
  • Turn off file and printer sharing in Windows if you're not using it. Intruders will have an easier time accessing your files if this is activated.
  • Turn off your Instant Messaging software when you're not using it.
  • Upgrade your web browser to 128-bit encryption.
  • Use an anonymous browser such as Anonymizer to hide your identity and filter cookies.