Be Informed, not Ignorant about Privacy Law

In a world greatly influenced and impacted by technology and in particular, the internet, you will be ahead of the game if you spend time researching how to protect yourself against possible threats to your privacy – internet privacy. While in the perfect world we’d like to believe Privacy Law protects us and that we control our information and it is wrong for your information to be accessed without your consent, the reality of it is you have much less control than you think and wrong or right, it happens. If you have not been a victim of privacy invasion via the Internet, consider yourself lucky. You might never but again, never a waste to be aware and protected.

There are steps you can take to ensure you  – and your privacy – are protected as much as possible. Note that the information provided in this blog does not include ALL ways to stay secure and if you feel there are other ways important to share, please know comments are always encouraged and appreciated. Also, stay tuned for subsequent blogs covering other Internet privacy aspects.

  1. Always be informed so before disclosing ANY personal information, make sure you check a site’s privacy policy.
  2. Confirm you have a SECURE Internet connection, which includes checking for the unbroken key or closed lock icon in the browser used – which should be done BEFORE releasing personal information of course.
  3. ONLY provide credit card numbers when BUYING something AND when it has FIRST been confirmed you are buying through a secure site with a secure connection and the credit card information provided will be used as you authorize it to be used.
  4. When registering any credit cards, do so with the card provider’s online security services, such as Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode.
  5. If at all possible, use just ONE credit card for ALL online purchases to minimize chances of being victimized by hackers and to more easily monitor and manage purchases and information. Also, try to use a card with a low spending limit or small available balance just in case.
  6. Avoid using a debit card for online purchases. Credit cards are more secure and bank-issued security guarantees apply mainly to credit cards.
  7. Avoid completely or minimize using the “remember my password” option when registering online.
  8. Update/Change passwords periodically (suggested is every 60-90 days) and don’t use personal information as your password – instead, use a string of at least five letters, numbers, and punctuation marks.
  9. Don’t store passwords near your computer or in your purse or wallet where they can more likely be captured or stolen.
  10. Keep anti-virus software up-to-date to minimize/decrease the risk of malicious codes running on your PC.
  11. Have a personal firewall enabled to further protect your PC from unknown connections and intrusions?
  12. Do not reply directly to e-mails seeking personal information.
  13. Type web addresses directly into the browser vs. clicking links.
  14. Invest in good anti-virus and anti-spam filtering software and maintain it by taking advantage of its auto-update feature.
  15. Do the homework! Translation: Check out online retailers’ ratings at BizRate, the Better Business Bureau, and other sites before making online purchases as well as doing Internet searches to see what types of reviews are generated.

As you see, there are ways to stay safe when using the Internet and while you are never completely in the clear, you will definitely reduce the risk of being a statistic by following simple steps. This list is definitely not complete as there is so much to say with regards to the Internet and your privacy so as mentioned, stay tuned for subsequent blogs covering other areas of Internet privacy.