How To Protect Against Internet Personal Information Theft


05.04.2011

How To Protect Against Internet Personal Information Theft

Don’t know how many of you are reading this article and don’t use the internet on a daily base. There are so many things you can do on this darn, day eating, virtual environment invention: from sending some e-mails to friends or family to posting on different social networks sites, from signing-up into a newsletter to create accounts, from shopping online to just watching a nice video on YouTube and enjoying a relaxing evening. Now you probably figured out how vast and multifunctional is this “little thing”.

But with great powers come great responsibilities, or in this case great risk. Many of you are probably doing online transactions and with this you put yourself in a risky situation for your identity to be stolen. But, if you are careful enough there are numerous ways to prevent that from happening. Here is a list of things that you have to take in account before inserting private information into any browser or online program:

  • Limit the amount of information you share online. It’s obvious why this is so useful, the less information is about you, less bad things can happen to you. So you minimize the risk of identity theft. For example when signing for a product or a service only provide the most needed information (all those fields that are required to be completed).

  • Be sure to always have that Windows firewall on (there is a reason we recommend this). For those of you who don’t know, the firewall is the part of the OS that is keeping unauthorized access to your computer. So data subtraction by other network computers or other people on internet is stopped by this protection “wall”. This security measure is responsible for filtering messages and data that comes in and out when you are surfing the internet. There are several things, and information has to exit or enter your computer and the firewall makes sure this happens. And for the users to have complete access to it, Microsoft has enable the possibility to configure it to your need and even turn it off (which me and many others recommend to not do). With it off, you are another sure target for internet malware and other bad stuff you don’t want to deal with.

  • There is another thing that you must have in your computer at all time and that is an anti-virus. The opinions vary on this case with everybody suggesting a different thing. There is Nod32, Kaspersky, Norton and a lot more. We don’t say have this or that, but we say have something. And always be sure to have it up-to-date. For those who don’t want to pay for good antiviruses there are even some free out there like: Avira, AntiVir, AVG and Avast. Returning to the update part most of them do this automatically when you connect to the internet. In some cases when there will be something wrong to your “security defender” a message will appear for sure in which you will update it manually. For those who want the most of their protection there are numerous premium options  which will ensure all that you would ever need in case of an attack. Things like spyware and ad or pop-up blockers will prove very helpful for those of you who have very risky information on their computers; information that left out in the wild could do much harm to them or other people.

  • You have noticed the auto-fill option that is omnipresent on most sites. I personally recommend not using it with every occasion you have. This is a feature offered by Windows in which the information is saved. You can save things like name, address, contact numbers, e-mail address and many others. The next time you would need to fill up that field again with the same information Windows will help you by automatically completing it for you. I recommend not using it especially when you are on a public computer. With this people could share the same information you want to hide from them…. Very risky!

  • It’s time for cookies. But wait Santa, we are not speaking of cookies and milk you can drink in front of a fire. We speak here about browser cookies. Disable or delete them as often as you can. Every time you visit a website some cookies are downloaded automatically in a folder inside your computer. Although these are encrypted in a strange text format and include a hard to read information there are numerous people who know how to use them. Inside there are things like: ID number, login details, pages visited, domain names, even banners, graphics, and ads. The information is not stored inside one cookie, numerous ones being created even when you visit a single site. You can realize how someone could use even one of them with some type of personal information and even grant access to your computer. Be very careful with the websites you choose to accept cookie storing from, some of them might not be so well protected. But there is the possibility to open the Cookie folder and edit the content inside, thing that will take some time. I recommend using a web browser that permits you to adjust the privacy settings. Internet Explorer 6 and higher, Mozilla and Chrome are just a few that let you do this (although I don’t think there is anybody out there who is using an older version than those mentioned above). With this, you will control cookies coming from advertisements and annoying pop-ups that bug you a lot in those surfing days.

  • For those of you who are crazy about shopping online I recommend to do this only from trusted sites. Web-sites like Amazon, E-bay are very safe to use and offer a high protection against any type of personal information theft. Also when buying be sure to use safe third-party sites such as PayPal when sending or receiving money with shopping online. Better to be sure than lose some hard worked money.

In this internet age everybody is doing something over the web. Be sure you minimize the risk of personal information theft by doing the things mentioned above. But overall there will be always the risk of this happening with so many hard working hackers that could come very useful when jailbreaking something !

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