.COMmentary: Your privacy–your home

.COMmentary: Your privacy–your home

By Mike Lotz

Your privacy—your business

By Mike Lotz

Online Americans have great concerns about breaches of privacy, while at the same time they do a number of trusting things on the Internet, and the majority have NEVER had a seriously harmful thing happen to them online.

Internet users want the presumption of privacy when they go online, but they do not know the basics of how they’re being watched on the web and what are tools available to protect themselves.

Here are the stats:

Only 9 percent of Internet users have used encryption to scramble their e-mail.

Only 5 percent of Internet users have used anonymizing software that hides their computer identity from websites they visit.

A whopping 56 percent of Netizens do not know what a cookie is (not the chocolate chip kind, either!) A cookie is a text file (side note: They can be found at C:/windows/cookies on Windows systems, and under MagicCookies on Macs) that is placed on a user’s computer by a website to help track that user’s browsing activities. Despite the big deal Net users make about being monitored online, only 10 percent of users have set their browser to reject cookies.

You can relax now; a cookie is not going to give anyone your Social Security number, the type of car you drive, your inseam, your dog’s name; you get the point.

Now let’s get to some tips and available products to protect your privacy.

Tip#1 – Find and read a site’s privacy policy before doing business with it.

Tip#2 – Set your browser to either notify you when a site delivers a cookie, or refuse cookies altogether.

If you’re really paranoid about Big Brother watching your every move, you can purchase software to block online tracking or make you anonymous by encrypting your web travels and e-mails. The two products are from IDcide (www.idcide.com) or Zero Knowledge System (www.zeroknowledge.com).

OK, I hope this gives you an overview of why it’s your fault when it comes to your privacy and the Internet. Here’s something to think about–don’t you put personal information in a paper envelope, seal it with saliva and stick in a metal box at the end of your driveway? And you worry about the Internet!

If you have any questions, comments or topics to discuss, please contact me at questions@iwebwerks.com

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!