Internet Privacy: DOs and DON’Ts

Internet privacy is something everyone thinks about but very few actually do anything about. Many sites are gathering personal information from every site you visit. Facebook, while you are logged on to the site, gathers information — such as browser information, length of stay, and what you click on — from every page that has a Facebook symbol. Browsers have information stored that gives away all your information to sites with cookies. These are just a few of the issues users are dealing with every time they surf the Internet.


Microsoft’s Safety and Security Center reminds users to not share information they don’t want spread across the Internet. This is good advice, because anything you post on a social media site or a blog can be spread across the Internet in a matter of hours.

Email Addresses

The number one problem with email security is spam. Never, ever open email if you are not sure who the sender is. If a small country somewhere is returning your inheritance, ask yourself, Why?

Even if you recognize the email is coming from a company you trust, such as your bank, make sure the subject makes sense before opening the email. If you receive an email from your bank stating there is a problem with your account and to click on the link, DON’T. Go to the site the normal way and see if you can log in. If you can, then delete the email. It is spam.

Create a dummy email for non-important logins. There are plenty of places where you can create an email for free. Use this email when sites force you to register and you are not sure you want to be there. Use it to give to stores when they ask you for your email so they can send you coupons, every day, three times a day. Reserve your personal email for just that reason: to deal with personal matters.

Privacy Controls

Depending on the browser you use, you can go into “Settings,” “Setup,” “Preferences,” or “Options” and change the information that is given to sites when you visit them. If the browser requires an email, use the dummy email mentioned previously.

Larger sites, such as Facebook and YouTube, allow users to go into their account settings and make adjustments to personal information. These changes can make shared information private, so only friends and family can see your personal information.

Make sure to read the privacy policies of websites before joining them. Twitter defaults all settings to public. So, everything entered is shared to the world. However, the user can go into the settings and change some of those settings to private. Some sites don’t allow users to enter a “private” mode, and those sites should be avoided, unless you are not concerned with Internet privacy.


Create strong passwords for every site. This may seem like a lot of work, but it is much safer than using a single password. A password should consist of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. If possible, never use a complete word in the password. It is a good idea to write down a phrase and convert it into a password. For an example, “I Love Football” is a simple phrase. To convert into a password, simply write as !LuvF00tba!!. This password has uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols and does not spell out a real word.

If possible, passwords should be changed every 3 to 6 months. This makes it harder for hackers to leech onto an account and exploit it. Although it may seem obvious, never give your password out to anyone you can’t trust with all your account information.

Occasionally, you may want to look up your name on the Internet. If there is a site out there that has your information on it, you can write to them and ask them to remove it.