Privacy Concerns? Six Tips for Conducting Safer Online Activity

You wouldn’t leave your bank or credit card statements out on the table, so why should your confidential online activity be any different?   Deleting your browser cookies is always a best practice, but even that will only get you so far.

Here are some quick and easy tips to help safeguard your privacy when surfing online:

  1. Use unique passwords for all of your online accounts.   This sounds simple enough, but given the increasing number of accounts we sign up for online, it can be tough advice to follow (especially if you’ve got over 50 passwords to remember).  Quick tip: keep a password protected Excel file of all your account passwords, so you really only have to remember 1 password to access all of your online accounts.
  2. Install a reputable browser addon to alert you of potential privacy threats.  It’s easy to miss the fine print when browsing online, and add-ons such as BetterPrivacy (via Firefox) can help alert you to any possible dangers you may have overlooked.
  3. Be sure to read through the privacy agreements on all websites, opting out where necessary.  Social media and other free online networking sites are notorious for collecting and distributing your personal information to third parties.  Before signing up for a new account, be sure to read through the privacy agreement and “opt-out” of any permissions or requests to use your information for marketing purposes.
  4. Beware of social gaming applications and other freeware services.  Facebook apps such as Farmville, Jungle Jewels, etc. have taken a hit recently due to user complaints regarding privacy.  Before you sign up to play, be sure to read the reviews and fine print.
  5. Be careful what information you choose to share with who.  This goes without saying, but it’s easy to forget how many “friends” we’ve added to our social networks that aren’t necessarily our friends.  Before you list your address out for a birthday party or tell people you’ll be out of town for awhile with an unattended house, double check who’s on the receiving end of that message and tailor it appropriately.
  6. Look for SSL certificates on websites (especially e-commerce sites).  When making a purchase online or sharing confidential information such as SSN #s, DOBs, etc. make sure the website has a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate.  This ensures the information you share with the site is secure and will not be compromised.

With these few tips put to practice, you’ll be well on your way to a safer, more spam-free and secure online experience.