10 Ways to Increase Your Internet Privacy

Staying private while browsing the Internet is a pretty difficult thing to do. In fact, it’s almost impossible to accomplish completely. Still, a person can minimize their footprints on the Internet by utilizing various tactics and browsing habits. You won’t be able to erase your existence from the Internet, but you should be able to easily increase your privacy while online, whether it’s on a social media site or simply getting ad tracking companies out of your life. So then, let’s see what you can do to stay private!

1. Change all of your social media privacy settings to private.
Of course, just about everyone has heard about the recent privacy debate involving Facebook and its privacy policy. The site somewhat learned its lesson and now allows users to tweak their privacy settings. Almost every other social media site allows for this privacy customization too. Without a doubt, you should start out by making your social media profiles and sharing capabilities as private as possible. Therefore, only people that are your friends will be able to see your information. You can even block applications from accessing your information in some cases.

2. Use Firefox 4’s “Do Not Track” function.
With the release of Firefox 4 recently, Mozilla added a “Do Not Track” function to its browser. If you go into your options and settings, then you can check the box for this functionality. It doesn’t do a whole lot as of now, except send a header with every page request that says “Do Not Track”. However, companies have been querying Mozilla on how such a function would work, which means that “Do Not Track” may very well do something great for Internet users’ privacy rights in the near future.

3. Utilize “private browsing” with your Internet browser.
Most mainstream Internet browsers now offer some form of private browsing. This usually means that none of your actions during a private browsing session will be saved onto your computer, Hypothetically, this also means that companies and sites who track your movement on the Internet won’t be able to do so. As time goes on, private browsing technology improves, and users should one day be able to browse freely without worries of being watched in some way or another.

4. Make use of masked account numbers for debit and credit cards.
As for keeping your financial information safe, you can utilize masked debit and credit card account numbers. Not all banks and credit card companies offer this, but many of them do. Basically, you get to use faux numbers in place of your actual debit and credit card numbers to make purchases online and pay for services. The numbers will link to your credit or debit card, but anyone who gets the number illegally won’t have your actual account numbers. Of course, masked account numbers just work to increase your Internet privacy.

5. Clear your Internet cache and cookies after each session.
Websites use cookies to track Internet users as they move around the Internet from site to site. Also, a person who hacks into your computer or uses malware on your hard drive to look at these cookies can track your movements and break into your personal information. Therefore, you should dump your cache and cookies after you are done using the Internet – each and every single time. Doing so will help prevent someone from seeing what you do and who you are. It isn’t a foolproof way to stay private, but it does add another layer of defense against tracking websites and hackers.

6. Don’t use too many add-ons or applications.
Both add-ons and applications have some sort of access to you, whether it’s your personal information or where you go on the Internet. Such add-ons and applications can exist on your Internet browser (search toolbars) or on sites like Facebook. To avoid having your privacy invaded, you should minimize your use of all of these applications and add-ons. In reality, none of them are absolutely necessary for during your ventures on the Internet. Don’t give sites and companies another way to keep tabs on your activities and information!

7. Only use your real name or address when you have to.
Try to use your real personal information as little as possible. Basically, only input such information when you absolutely have to. You don’t have to use your real name to sign up for a newsletter or something small like that. Likewise, you should try to use a different address than the ones listed on your financial accounts because that can stop identity theft. Otherwise, using your name and address infrequently just decreases the number of different sites that your real information could pop up on.

8. Delete old accounts and pages that you don’t use anymore.
Most people have tons of old accounts for whatever website that they don’t use or access any longer. Obviously, it’s a great idea to delete and get rid of these pages because they are just sitting there with different bits of personal information and whatnot. Deleting old accounts is usually fairly simple, so you shouldn’t worry about having your personal information on the Internet for very long. Unfortunately, you can’t always delete everything, but you shouldn’t fret too much about pointless information that won’t mean anything to anyone.

9. Always use a secured Internet connection.
Never use an unsecured Wi-Fi connection anywhere – no matter what. Under all circumstances, this will stop someone from hacking into the network and following along as you surf the Internet. Also, a secured network just adds one more layer of security for both privacy and identity protection. You shouldn’t risk any of your information or privacy by surfing the web on an unsecured connection. On top of that, crooks regularly set up unsecured connections to exploit unknowing victims.

10. Run antivirus software once per week.
Malware and Spyware can track everything you do or steal all of your personal information. Obviously, both of these things are very bad for Internet users. You should run antivirus software once per week to destroy any bad programs that could be tracking you on the Internet or something word. By doing this, you will be eliminating just one more threat to your privacy and personal information. It’s a small step toward protecting yourself, but it definitely gets the job done.

It’s impossible to be 100% private while on the Internet.
In fact, just about everything you do on the Internet is tracked in some way, For instance, Google and Yahoo! search engines both track what their users type into search engines. They can even track which links you click on and where you go from there. Sure, they try to hide your identity, but studies have shown that they do a poor job of this. Most other websites are tracking what you do too. Therefore, you should be very wary while on the Internet. Don’t suspect that the government is tracking you down or anything. You should know that sites and companies are tracking you to target you with advertising, which is a disturbing thought for some. Elsewhere, a hacker or thief could be lurking with spyware to hack into your privacy and personal information. Either way, you need to do what you can to stay private on the Internet.

For more information, visit PrivacyRights.org and Keep Private on the Internet.