How to Protect Your Privacy Online

Since its creation, the Internet has evolved into a multipurpose tool that can be used for banking, shopping, conducting business, participating in online discussions, communicating with colleagues and keeping in touch with family and friends. If there’s one downside, most would agree that it’s the lack of privacy that often comes with the territory, in such an interconnected society. In recent years, the importance of online privacy has taken center-stage, thanks to a growing number of unscrupulous individuals who take advantage of the Web’s convenience, to prey on unsuspecting victims.

When you perform certain activities online, your IP address can be seen and your location traced. Whether you’re participating in an online discussion, commenting on someone’s blog or even posting updates to your favorite social media sites, there’s a good chance you’re leaving behind some small bit of information that can potentially be used to victimize you.

Here are a few practical tips on how to protect your privacy online. Remember that although these suggestions are no guarantee that you will remain absolutely safe online, they do provide a way to limit your exposure to certain risks.

1.) Use a browser with proven security features. Having said this, one way to protect yourself is to avoid using Internet Explorer. Remember that millions of users depend on this browser for their own surfing needs and with that many regular users, the risk of having your personal information stolen by another is substantially greater. By using other browsers, you can considerably reduce this risk.

2.) If you can help it, try to avoid using Google. Take note of the fact that Google generally keeps track of all your surfing activities and the more you use it, the more you compromise your privacy.

3.) Mask your identity with a Web anonymizer. This type of service allows you to surf the Web through a proxy server, so you can avoid leaving behind a trail that can lead straight back to your own computer. Remember, your IP address can basically disclose your identity, which can lead to the further disclosure of additional details that you would not want publicly known.

4.) Never give out your credit card numbers or any other personal details. This may seem like a tall order when a growing number of purchases can be made so much more conveniently online, but this is when you have to decide what’s more important to you. Either you prefer the convenience of purchasing stuff online or you prefer your privacy. The only way you can be sure nobody’s going to steal your credit card number over the Internet is not to use it there, in the first place.

When it comes down to it, there’s no way to guarantee absolute privacy on the Internet, short of not using it. The best you can really hope for is to minimize some of the most common risks, which is what these tips were designed to help you accomplish. For most people, it comes down to balancing the inconvenience of taking a few extra precautions with the more extreme inconvenience of being victimized by some form of identity theft, fraud or even stalking.