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Avoiding Viruses and More:
Protecting Your Personal Information Online



Virus

Protecting your personal information online should be a paramount concern. With more and more viruses being released, personal information can get comprised quite easily these days. Guarding against such virus threats is achievable with the right mindset and preparations. The following outlines how to avoid viruses and protect personal information online.

Guard Personal Information

There is a danger that people are accidentally releasing their personal information online without even knowing it. The cause is the configurations on their Internet web browsers. In the “options” or “preferences” menus, users might want to type in fake names in place of their real names and no e-mail addresses at all. This prevents that personal information from getting out in case your web browser is “shedding” these personal details. Also, be sure to set system-wide, Internet default programs to anonymous; this way, there is a smaller chance of personal information leaking out.


Cookies

Cookies are pieces of information that websites store on computers to identify users or to customize web pages for them. These cookies can be either permanent or temporary. Cookies can be harmful when they are used for purposes such as data mining, which keeps track of your browsing activities. Browsers permit users to block these cookies and not accept them from certain websites, but the downside to this may be that the websites then will not function properly.


Clean E-mail Address

Clean e-mail addresses are those that are used sparingly and for trusted websites and purposes. If users want to be part of e-mail lists or other public spaces on the Internet, they are advised to create “side” e-mail accounts that are not their main ones. The reason behind this advice is that e-mail addresses that are posted on public spaces can be seen by spammers and senders of junk e-mail. As a result, users who post their main e-mail address in public spaces will get more unwanted spam in their inboxes.


Online Friends

In this day and age of online connectivity, it is getting more and more common for people to become online friends. Online friends are users who are befriended on websites, forums, chat rooms, or mailing lists. People who want to meet online friends are advised to first only do so in public places. Because there are no references for online friends, it is advised that personal information not be shared with them until they are discovered to be trustworthy.


Be Distrustful of Some Websites

It is advisable to be distrustful of some websites, especially if said websites entice visitors by offering rewards or prices in exchange for contact information. People should suspect that such websites are looking to gather personal information for direct marketing reasons. These websites obtain personal contact information and then sell it to other direct marketers for a profit. Do not be enticed by such offers from websites by reminding yourself of the sinister nature of their purpose.


Spammers

Spam is unsolicited bulk e-mail that is undesired and floods your inbox. When you get a spam advertisement, never fall for the trap of entertaining the offer or even by replying to the e-mail with a removal request. In the latter case, a person sending out the spam e-mails will just obtain confirmation that a live person has been reached at your e-mail address. As a result, you are likely to get even more spam e-mails in the future as your address has been verified as a live person’s.


Web Security

Web security means being conscious before submitting sensitive information to websites. For instance, if users are purchasing something from a commercial website, they should first ensure that their Internet connection is secure, which means encrypted. This means that web browsers should display a closed-lock icon at the bottom of the screen. Only in this way can users be sure that they have attained web security. Anti Virus software should also be installed on every computer accessing the Internet - providing an extra layer of security.


Home Computer Security

Users should be wary of their home computers’ security if their Internet connection is up and running every hour of every day. This occurs in a situation where people have cable modem connections or DSL connections. In such a setup, people are advised to turn their home computers off when they are no longer using them for the day. However, firewalls can protect against the vulnerabilities of a home computer network.


Privacy Policies

Before you do business with a website (purchase something), examine the privacy policy of the website. Whether consumers should do business with a website depends on much more than just the security of the website itself. Privacy policies can be tricky because they sometimes refuse to live up to the implications of privacy. In fact, some privacy policies actually communicate that visitors have no expectation of privacy.


Control Information

Above all things, people have to remember that they are in charge of their own personal information. They control their own personal information and so should be very careful about what website they release it to. While it is important to give websites at which purchases are made correct information, there is no such obligation at other websites. If a website is too intrusive with information demands, you can even give them fake information to protect your privacy.


Additional Resources:

Related Articles: Article last updated March 4, 2012.




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