If Privacy Still Matters Online How Can We Maintain It?

Online privacy is a subject of monumental importance. Nearly everyone has an internet service provider today, and many people get online and access their sensitive personal information through it.

You can check your investment portfolio, schedule online payments, make major purchases, and update your bank information all from the comfort of your living room - or your jacuzzi. With so much information being shared, it's crucial that users learn how to protect their privacy.

The Basics
Your internet service provider may offer a firewall, anti-spyware, or anti-virus service. Whether you take advantage of these offers or choose to purchase a different product, it's essential that you maintain all three. Keep them up-to-date and check on the status of the programs regularly. You'll probably need to renew your subscription annually, but it is well worth the cost to keep your information safe.

Social Media
Social media sites put individuals in an especially sticky situation when it comes to matters of privacy. While some things are under your control, others like getting tagged or mentioned aren't. You can remove these tags to maintain some privacy, but you're better off trying to stay mindful of your actions in public situations. You should also be careful about which apps have permission to post to your Facebook or Twitter accounts.

Financial Information
When you're sharing financial information over the internet, make sure that the web address of the page begins with "https:" That extra letter "s" ensures that you're on a secure site where your information should be safe from hackers. Keep in mind that even an "https:" site can be dangerous if you don't know who you're dealing with. 

Personal Information
The level of privacy that you want for your personal information is entirely up to you. You may want to stay completely anonymous on the internet, or you may want to build a profitable personal brand from your name and image. Regardless of where you stand, certain companies like your internet service provider will still need your real and legal information.

If you want to stay anonymous, you'll need to be careful about any situation where you're asked for personal information. You can set up a PO Box for mailings. In online forums, use a pseudonym and generic avatar. You can even direct emails through servers like SpamBob or SpamGourmet that keep your real email address protected.

At the end of the day, you need to remember that complete anonymity online is nearly impossible. If you're under investigation or happen to be an A list celebrity, others will be willing to go to great lengths to discover your real identity. For the Average Joe, however, these measures will help to protect a great deal of your privacy.

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