On Line Privacy. How To Protect Yourself.

This article was written for a colleague of mine.  His name is Brian Bien and his website is www.BienTek.com
Hope you enjoy it.

Net users often take for granted that they have privacy whenever they go online. What many don’t realize is that the internet is a double-edged sword: it can gives us all the information we can possibly ask for, but it can be used to take information from us as well.
Even something as innocuous as using a search engine or visiting a website actually leaves traces, information that clue in marketers to our habits and interests, which they can use to further their own goals. If, for example, you do a search on the latest cars, someone can pick up the cookie left behind by your search. The next time you visit your favorite site or check your inbox, you just might see an ad for cars, tailor fit just for you. 
You have the right to online privacy and you CAN protect it. Here are a few ways to do just that:
1.Don’t make it easy to identify yourself—be very wary of giving out personal information online. One thing to avoid is doing a search of your own name. Because search engines keep their search logs for a period of time, your name can be linked to your IP address, personally identifying you as the one doing the search.
2.Manage your cookies—some websites leave bits of information about you through internet cookies stored on your computer. This information can be potentially be sold to marketers, who may then create a profile about you and your online habits. To mitigate this, you can set your browser’s options to delete your cookies whenever you end a session.
3.Mask your IP address—In internet terms, your IP address is like a regular address. It’s possible for someone to trace whatever you do online to that address. There are a few ways to hide your address. Firstly, you can use a dynamic address as opposed to a static one. If you can’t get a dynamic address from your ISP or server, you can opt to mask it instead. To do this you can use a free program like Tor or a proxy website like Anonymizer, which acts as a buffer between you and the sites you visit.
4.Don’t use a search engine where you keep an open account—if, for example, you are logged in to your Gmail account and you do a search with Google, the search engine can connect all your searches to your account. To protect the privacy of your searches, use a different search engine like Bing or Yahoo!.
5.Consider Ixquick as your search engine—most search engines retain their search logs for a period of time. Google for example, maintains their logs for 6 months, while Yahoo keeps theirs for 90 days. Doesn’t sound like a problem? Well, in 2004, the U.S. government subpoenaed the search logs of all of the country’s major search engines, and everyone but Google complied. Of course, nobody wants anyone looking through their private searches for whatever reason. Ixquick, a Dutch-based search engine, solves this problem by deleting their search logs within 48 hours. It also does not record your IP address. If you’re interested in giving your searches a measure of privacy, Ixquick provides an easy solution.

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