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Protecting your Privacy Online

The Internet is a valued aspect of daily living. Each day millions of people log onto the World Wide Web in order to conduct business, socialize, communicate, engage in e-commerce, or be entertained.

While there are many obvious and tangible benefits to using the Internet, unfortunately there are a few drawbacks too. One of the biggest, and recently controversial, aspects of using the Internet is the compromise of privacy.

Expecting privacy on the web is a tricky issue. While most people have the expectation that privacy should be present, the reality is the web is far from a private place. That being said, there are many preventative and protective measures Internet users can take to preserve their personal information.

Compromised privacy on the Internet can transpire in a variety of ways. Here are a few of the privacy challenges occurring online:

*Sharing Information with Third Parties

As a means of marketing and/or research, websites routinely collect information about their visitors, and companies also collect data regarding their customers.

While there is much value for both business and consumer to gather data, users should make a vigilant point of reading company privacy policies and understand what the documents say and where the information shared actually goes.

*Search Engines

Anything that is posted, listed or shared on the web is archived somewhere, if not multiple copies. Search engines possess bots that “spider” through the web and extract content that is relevant to a search.

As a result if someone plugs a name into a search engine, they might be surprised on what has been published or shared on the web. Sometimes users can control information, but in today’s highly tech savvy world, this has become increasingly difficult.

However by reading the aforementioned privacy policies and staying away from companies that treat personal data as a commodity, some of the data can be safeguarded.

*Data Breach

Data breaches occur when a company that has data stored is hacked, stolen, accidently published or compromised in some way that can lead to sensitive data being exposed. Unfortunately due to the fact virtually all organizations collect data, consumers are at the mercy of their means to safeguard data.

Companies that use due care and are diligent about their information security policies and practices are less likely to experience a breach, but unfortunately all it takes is one careless mistake or other disaster and data breach can occur, compromising thousands (or more) individuals.

*Cybercrime

Cybercrime is on the rise. Auction fraud, non-delivery of items, check fraud, and credit card fraud are the top crimes occurring and most oft complained about.

Identity and financial thefts have become an everyday worry for most people because criminal lurk on the Internet with all kinds of scams to nab information to steal identities.

On the plus side there are some precautions people can take to preserve their individual privacies, but on the down side, unfortunately nothing is ever 100% surefire; the web is a very public place. While some responsibility falls on the website, in reality people have to take control and monitor their own information, read privacy policies and use safe Internet practices.

By taking the time to understand and become educated about the privacy risks, behavioral changes and preventative tools available, Internet users can go a long way towards safeguarding their personal information and maintaining some level of privacy.

About User Lin