Windows Secrets personal security baseline

Keys to security
By Jan Bultmann

Frequent Internet users get mixed messages about data privacy.

We worry about data miners and identity theft but put our life stories up on Facebook. Here are some basic steps to enhance your personal security.

Are we confused or just careless about our privacy? On the one hand, we hear plenty of stories about the data-mining and aggregation techniques used by companies and various governmental agencies around the world, as well as by criminals seeking to use social engineering to trick people out of money or processor power.

At the same time, social-networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn — which many people see as legitimate and benign — ask for more and more information about our past, our employment, and our interests. With almost every iteration of these sites, the Internet presses more deeply into our privacy.

You have good reason to think twice before filling out every field your social-networking site presents to you. In case you forget the varieties of Internet perils out there, here are reminders of what’s not in your interest when some people get their hands on your data. After that, to cheer you up a little, are 10 tips on how to protect your privacy.

A flourishing black market for personal data

You undoubtedly know that cybercriminals gather personal data to steal identities and money. Users can suffer damage to their personal credit and even jeopardy to their physical safety. But you might not know that most cybercriminals sell your data to other criminals.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2011-03-03: