Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Web Secret #226: 6 Tips for More Online Privacy

Recently, I came across a fabulous article offering tips on how to improve online privacy.

Here are six of the best:

1. Be careful on social networks. Almost everything you say and do on social networks is public by default. Post with caution or a pseudonym. Facebook has dozens of privacy settings, so start with the biggest ones: turn OFF tag suggestions, turn ON tag and profile review, disable access to apps you don’t use or trust, and only share with friends. If you’re sharing with friends of friends, more than 150,000 people on average can see your info.

2. Use your browser’s private browsing mode. Private browsing mode stops other people who have access to your computer from knowing which sites you’ve visited. Cookies are automatically deleted when you close your window, and your history of web sites visited, passwords, autofills, searches, and downloads isn’t saved. Enable private browsing mode in your browser’s preferences. It’s called Incognito Mode in Chrome, Private Browsing in Safari, InPrivate in Internet Explorer, and Private Browsing in Firefox.

3. Use secure browsing (HTTPS) whenever possible. HTTPS prevents others from snooping on your wireless connection. It’s particularly useful when you’re using insecure wireless connections, like those in cafes or airports. You’ll know that a site is secure and using HTTPS when you see a lock icon next to the URL of the site you’re visiting.

4. Use multiple email addresses. Have a different email for each of the following areas of your life: people you trust, signups for online accounts, signups for offline accounts, legal, work, & acquaintances (or any other category you’d like to create). That way, one email getting hacked or compromised won’t affect the others.

5. Google yourself regularly. Search for all variations of your name and contact info to find out if your personal info is publicly available online. Information about you can also show up in more than a dozen of Google’s other search services, such as Images, Videos, Blogs, Groups, News, and Realtime (which monitors social network mentions).

6. Think before posting under your real name. Whether you’re posting in a forum, social network, news article, or online group, there’s a good chance your comment will persist forever. If you decide to post something under your real name, ask yourself the New York Times question: “If this content were ever publicly released, would I be okay with seeing it on the cover of the New York Times?” If the answer is “no,” use a pseudonym.

All the above are common sense, but on the Internet, common sense is in short supply...

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