8 Key Actions for Protecting Your Privacy Online!

by Doug Partridge

You see the ads all over the place, "Get 147 ebooks and 56 software titles for only x amount of dollars". Or how about, "Buy the master resell rights to this product for only xx amount of dollars". Lots of people buy these everyday with the hope of making big money. However, the big question many people seem to have after buying them is, now that I've got them, what the heck do I do with them?

Are you at risk of losing your privacy? Answer the following three simple questions:

Do you shop or bank online? Do you use an "always on" high-speed Internet connection? Do you connect to the Internet from your home computer? 

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions and you have a Windows computer – then you are at risk. Your computer needs to have the appropriate protections and you must take extra steps to secure your computer and protect your privacy. 

Why is this so critical? 

A recent study on Internet security sponsored by America Online and the National Security Alliance found that while most people thought their computers were secure upwards of 80% contained monitoring software known as "Spyware." 

Spyware allows companies to download information from your computer without you even knowing it. Spyware represents a direct threat to online privacy and security. 

But you can put a stop to it.

Here are 8 key actions for protecting online privacy:

1. Use a Personal Firewall. In addition to using an Anti-Virus program, a personal firewall is mandatory as it will block unwanted connection attempts. Sygate's Personal Firewall is a top-quality firewall and it's free for personal use. http://smb.sygate.com/products/spf_standard.htm 

2. Use a Spyware removal program. You can't rely on your Anti-Virus program to find and remove all instances of Spyware. Ad-Aware from Lavasoft is free for personal use. Recommendation: run a full scan at least once a week. http://www.lavasoft.de/

3. Change to a More Secure Internet Browser. Due to the numerous security exploits targeted specifically at Internet Explorer, consider using another web browser. An excellent free alternative is "Firefox" from Mozilla. Not only is it more secure, you get a built-in pop-up blocker and Google search tool. http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/ 

4. Never provide personal or financial information to a non-secure website. A "secure" website is indicated by "HTTPS" in the address bar, and a small padlock icon in the lower right-hand corner of your browser window. http://www.verisign.com/advisor/check.html is a free place to check your browser's security capabilities.

5. Never provide confidential or financial information in response to an email request. Legitimate companies will never ask for personal or financial information over an insecure medium like email. Attempts to trick people into revealing personal and financial information through impersonated email messages is known as "Phishing." Some of these messages look very official and may come what appears to be a bona fide bank or company. Beware! When unsure if an email message is genuine it's best to telephone the company in question. Phishing email messages may be reported to http://www.antiphishing.org/

6. Read the fine print before typing in private personal information. Always read the privacy policy of a website to understand how they will use your information. Will they share or sell it? Be suspicious if no privacy policy is visible.

7. Never download or accept any file or program from an un-trusted source. Adware and Spyware are frequently bundled with "free" programs. You may download one program and find that your computer becomes infected with a Spyware programs. 

8. Be wary and virus check all email attachments. Never open an unexpected email attachment, even from known friends or business senders. Their computers may be infected. Self-spreading worms can infect a computer and then send an infected email-attachment to everyone in the owner's address book. 

Malicious Internet threats are clearly a formidable enemy; however, the good news is that tools and information are readily available so that you can enjoy the Internet without putting your computer and confidential information at risk. 

About the Author: Doug Partridge is co-author of a new eBook, "How to Secure Your Computer Using Free Tools and Smart Strategies." Get all the tools and information you need to thoroughly secure your Windows computer and private information from malicious threats on the Internet. Get Secure Now => http://www.SecureYourComputer.Net 

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