Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Protect Your Privacy Online

I have posted several advice articles on computing safety in the past, and I cannot emphasize enough that there are steps you can — and should — take to reduce your risks of Identity Theft and spyware infections.

I have posted these steps for you to take advantage of (free), and I will continue to do so. I encourage you to use my “Search box” widget, or Categories, to find and read past Tech–for Everyone security articles.

Tip of the day: Increase your security and privacy by removing your browsing tracks. All browsers record histories, store copies of the webpages you’ve visited, and to be helpful, store your log on User Names and Passwords, and the answers to forms you’ve filled out. Your machine is programmed to be as fast, efficient, and helpful as it can, and it takes steps you may not be aware of to do this.

For example, your browser will store a “temp” copy of this Webpage in one of many “temporary” folders, and make a note of the time. This is done so that should you return to Tech–for Everyone, your machine can load it from local memory– which is much faster than downloading HTML instructions, text, and graphics and building the page.

Your computer uses the timestamps to determine if there’s been changes to the “source” page, and if there has been, it will download the newer page ‘elements’. This helps to give you the illusion of a “fast Internet”.

Other automatic conveniences that record your personal information are Autocomplete, Autofill, and AutoLogon. This is usually accomplished through the use of cookies. (In spite of what you may have heard, all “cookies” are not “bad”.) Hackers know where to look for all this stored information, and they know how to exploit it. Today I am going to show you how to counteract, and change some of this automatic behavior and help you keep your privacy, well, private.

Start by opening IE and clicking on the down-arrow to the right of the Tools menu and selecting Internet Options. (Loyal readers of this blog will already be familiar with this window.)
iops.jpg

In the “Browsing History” area, click on the “Delete” button. Now a menu window will open…deletehist.jpg
Here you are presented with your choices of what to erase (or to “delete all”) and what not. I recommend getting into the habit of regularly clicking on the first, third, and fourth delete buttons — Temp files, History, and Form data.
[note: Form data is particularly important to erase if you have made an online payment, and/or entered your credit card number. Even if you did so on a Secured site.]

Firefox users can set this to be done automatically each time you end your browser session. Click on “Tools” > “Options” and select the Privacy tab.
ff_opts

Sadly, there is no method to set IE to do this automatically for you (you would need a 3rd party utility for that…see today’s free link) and you must remember to this manually.

You can, however, set IE to erase the “temp” files automatically. Click on the Advanced tab of Internet Options, and scroll down to the Security list of settings. Place a check (select) in the checkbox next to “Empty Temporary Internet files when browser is closed”, as shown below. Then click “Apply”, and “OK”.
advnced.jpg

Today’s free link: the tool I use to erase the digital breadcrumbs on my machines is Absolute Shield Internet Eraser. From site: “AbsoluteShield Internet Eraser protects your privacy by cleaning up all the tracks of your Internet and computer activities. The tool is integrated with IE and it can erase the browser cache, history, cookies, typed URLs, autocomplete list and so on in one click. You can also set the tool to automatically erase those tracks when you quit IE or quit Windows.”

[note: several utility programs have a tracks eraser feature, and so you may have this already… such as if you have Glary Utilities, or CCleaner.]

* Original posting: IE 7 and your privacy, 7/8/07.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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November 6, 2008 - Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, privacy, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. […] ckgni wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptI have posted several advice articles on computing safety in the past, and I cannot emphasize enough that there are steps you can — and should — take to reduce your risks of Identity Theft and spyware infections. I have posted these steps for you to take advantage of (free), and I will continue to do so. I encourage you to use my “Search box” widget, or Categories, to find and read past Tech–for Everyone security articles. Tip of the day: Increase your security and privacy by removing your browsing tracks. All browsers record histories, store copies of the webpages you’ve visited, and to be helpful, store your log on User Names and Passwords, and the answers to forms you’ve filled out. Your machine is programmed to be as fast, efficient, and helpful as it can, and it takes steps you may not be aware of to do […] […]

    Like

    Pingback by Protect Your Privacy Online | November 6, 2008 | Reply

  2. Excellent info, as always, Paul. Your description and instructions on how to find and use these settings is most helpful.

    Like

    Comment by Mike M | November 6, 2008 | Reply

  3. Wish I’d had this back in my PC days. What a great, thoroughly written article.

    Like

    Comment by how2hq | November 6, 2008 | Reply

  4. some we-sites such gmail will lose your autologon settings

    Like

    Comment by serg | November 7, 2008 | Reply

  5. Paul,

    Very well written… Most people do not realize that by following the privacy/cleaning tips, you have outlined, on a regular basis helps provide for a safe trip when browsing and will ultimately enhance their browsing experience.

    Like

    Comment by Rick | November 7, 2008 | Reply

  6. I disagree with this article. While clearing private data is essential when using a public computer, at your home computer it does not keep you any safer on the internet. Saved Form data and saved passwords are not transmitted over the internet (at least not until you click the submit button)As long as you use a encrypted SSL connection that data is safe. An attacker would generally need physical access to your computer to access this data. Stuff like viruses and spyware could potentially access saved forms and passwords, but then again they could just as easily install a keylogger. Cookies are the only items that are sent back across the internet. While attackers can hijack cookies using packet sniffers or Cross Site Scripting and steal your logged on session, no web developer in their right mind will put the actual username and password in the cookie itself (the cookie will contain a cryptographic token for your logged on session). You can’t look up the username/password by reading the cookie. To be more secure you need to do two things. You should never submit sensitive/private information over a nonsecure connection (use https rather than http). Second when you are done using a site you should explicitly log off and terminate your current session with that site.

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    Comment by jgoto | November 7, 2008 | Reply

  7. jgoto–
    I do not disagree with your points, and I thank you for them.
    However, while I agree that a resident keylogger is the method of choice, I have seen scripts which harvest these stored items.
    Yes, it would be great if everyone knew to look for the https, remembered to logoff, and never did their online banking at a hotspot.. kept their antivirus updated, used a firewall, reset their WORKGROUP, and generally used something that used to be called Common Sense..
    I see no harm in getting users to install an automated tracks eraser.. or activate one they already have.

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    Comment by techpaul | November 7, 2008 | Reply


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