Internet privacy is the ability to control what information you reveal about yourself over the Internet and who can access this personal information. The subset of Internet privacy is called computer privacy, which narrows down the field of computer privacy filter to something you can control.
Experts in the Internet privacy field agree that there is no such thing as Internet privacy, but advocates believe that it should exist. There are three areas of Internet privacy that you should be aware of if you want to safeguard that privacy. They are Cookies, Browsing profiles, and IP addresses, and you should know how to prevent problems that can occur with each of these things.
By avoiding spyware, and by using caution when exposing your personal information online, the casual Internet user can avoid most mishaps due to online privacy. Cookies have become the biggest privacy risk and have received a great amount of attention. An HTTP cookie is a piece of information that is stored on the user’s computer to add statefulness to web-browsing. The computer does not usually inform the user when a cookie is being stored, although some people think this would be a good idea, instead, they are just stored like a marker on your system.
When cookies were originally developed, they were intended to be retrieved by the website that originally sent them, which would give back the data that the website already possessed. In actuality, programmers can avoid this restriction which can lead to consequences such as web profiling, cross-site scripting, or other techniques that hackers can use to steal information from the user’s cookies.
A good way to handle the problem is by choosing to disable cookies in your web browser. This eliminates the potential privacy risks but may limit or prevent the use of many websites. All significant web browsers have this disabling ability built-in, with no outside program required. Also, users may frequently delete any stored cookies. Some browsers have the option to have the system clear cookies automatically whenever the user closes the browser.
Another way is by allowing cookies in general, but preventing their abuse. You can also find a host of wrapper applications that will redirect cookies and cache data to another location. Using such programs prevent the storing of browsing information on the actual computer and sends the information off-system when the user takes out the USB flash memory device.
Web browser profiles also cause a problem for users called profiling, or tracking. This is where the system assembles and analyzes several events, all of which can be traced back to a single entity, so they can get information relating to especially patterns of activity on the original entity. Certain organizations hire people to profile user’s web browsers by collecting the URLs of sites that they visited. These profiles may or may not link with the personal information of the user.
This practice is done legally by many marketing research organizations in order to construct profiles of the “typical Internet user.” This can provide valuable market information for web-based businesses. The most important way to safeguard your privacy is by using secure web sites when giving out your personal information. Otherwise, governments and other organizations are looking at new ways to eliminate or safeguard this potentially dangerous profiling to make sure that your personally-identifiable information is not available online.
Another problem for users online is an IP address. An IP address sometimes becomes a personally-identifiable piece of information and therefore can cause Internet privacy concerns. An IP address identifies its user’s ISP and also identifies its user’s nation, region/province/state, and sometimes even city.
Every device on the Internet has an IP address, which is an identifying numeric code used to route data. Any web site can track the movements of users through its pages by their IP addresses. This IP address provides the minimum amount of information that a hacker may need to attack someone’s computer over the Internet. By connecting to anonymous proxies, which are special Internet servers that connect to remote hosts on behalf of the user, a person can seek anonymity by hiding their IP addresses from third parties.
There are several ways to protect yourself online and these are just three of the most important ways that someone can invade your Internet privacy and cause you problems.