(NAPS)-Too much information
can be a bad thing-especially online, where hackers can use your
personal information to your disadvantage.
By stealing such information, thieves can apply for credit
cards and loans in your name, hack into and damage your home
and threaten the safety of your family. Fortunately, there
are ways to guard online privacy. Here are 10 easy tips to
business with it. Privacy policies should be in plain English.
does not exist, find another Website.
2. Find out what information will be collected and how it will
Many sites sell their customer lists and data to third parties
unknown to you. You should be able to opt out or unsubscribe.
If you do not wish a site to sell your information and you
do not have an option to opt out, find another Website.
3. Never give vital information, such as a credit card number,
over anything but a secure connection. Before you provide sensitive
information, the site should tell you that you are moving into
4. Check information about yourself. You should be able to
review your information and, if necessary, correct it.
5. Balance your privacy against the value of the services offered.
Some sites will ask for information in exchange for access
to them or higher levels of service. Decide whether they ask
6. What are the cookies cooking up? Cookies are small data
files Websites use to store information in your computer, such
password, and track your progress through the site.
In most instances, cookies are used to provide valuable personalized
services. However, cookie technology can also abuse privacy.
End users cannot usually tell how specific cookies are being
Your browser’s cookie control option can tell you when
a site wants to give you a cookie and get your permission.
Standard browser software lets you disable cookies, but doing
so may limit access to some sites. Check the cookies already
on your hard drive and delete those you don’t want.
7. E-mail is forever. Email is sent electronically, and all
it takes is a push of the “forward” button to send to
anyone. Even when you “delete” e-mail, its ghost
remains in your computer and can be recovered by, for example,
your employer or anyone with a subpoena. Keep that in mind
when you write.
8. Consider encryption. There are programs to encrypt e-mail,
but you have to make sure all your recipients have the key.
Your messages can still be recalled from your computer, and
be sure that your decrypted messages won’t be forwarded.
9. Prevent hack attacks. Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) links
speed service, but they are always on when your computer is
on, leaving your files vulnerable to hackers. Protect yourself
installing firewall software on your PC.
10. Remember what mom said about talking to strangers. Chat
rooms can lead spammers back to your address, loading you up
Privacy remains a matter of personal comfort. Some feel that
their privacy is invaded by third party advertisements generated
by a site they visit. Others see such advertising as a trade-off
for services obtained at no or reduced costs.
The choice should always be yours. If it isn’t, exploit
one of the principal virtues of the online economy: find another
Website. There are plenty of alternatives.
Peter Reid is vice-president of the Privacy Center of Expertise
at NCR ‘s Teradata Division.