Internet Privacy

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Internet privacy is fast becoming a mere illusion, or so it seems. Hackers continue to find new and better ways to pilfer everything from passwords and social security numbers to credit card info and bank account data. Even if such data is protected by secure socket layer (SSL) encryption, firewalls, and other safeguards, thieves appear to be one step ahead of security products developers. If they weren't, identity theft wouldn't continue to be so problematic.

The most any user can do is take these basic precautions and observe common sense when using the computer. Lately, there's been a rash of scams involving password theft, especially in relation to the online auction site eBay, though it's hard to count these incidents as true theft. Rather, they ought to be chalked up under the heading of "user stupidity," for scam artists in this case are coming right out and asking eBay users for their login names and passwords. This, after the online auction juggernaut explicitly states that it will never ask users for password info. So much for common sense.

Other Threats to Internet Privacy

Even if you don't willingly part with your password or enter your credit card number on insecure servers, you may still be at risk. Spyware, also known as adware, is fast becoming the preferred method that advertisers use to collect valuable info on you. These files, which often lurk undetected for months or even years on your PC, transmit to marketers information on your tastes, preferences, and buying habits. Unfortunately, it's not just legitimate businesses that are using spyware, but hackers and other evildoers as well.

The best way to combat these assaults on your internet privacy is to keep an updated version of antivirus software running on your machine, regularly clearing your browser history, and cleaning out your cached pages (those that are stored in your computer's temporary memory). Aside from that, you can also invest in internet privacy software whose job it is to sniff out invaders and banish them from your computer. If you still suspect you're being spied on, you just might have to accept the fact that nothing is truly private anymore, which, admittedly, can be a harrowing conclusion to make.

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