Web Site Safety
Be Smart, Be Safe, But Don't be
Protect Your Privacy Online
Essential basics for protecting your privacy when viewing a
- Have a reputable Anti-Virus Program running on your computer
at all times. (AVG is free. McAfee, and Norton are well know
commercial anti virus programs (See External Resources page)
- Set your browser to only accept "Session Cookies". (See
- Set your browser to not accept 3rd party cookies. (See
- Use generic personal information when you fill out forms or
surveys that have no right to ask for your personal
- Read web site privacy policies if you do provide personal
information on a web site. You may decide you do not want to
share your information after you read it
- Delete cookies, cache, temporary Internet files regularly
(See Browser settings).
- Use a 3rd party program that will locate spyware and malware
and allow you to delete it. (Recommendation: AdAware see External Resources page)
- Do not enter a password or username in any pop up windows
from web sites. This is the latest technique used in Phishing scams to acquire your
username or password. Most web sites for example yahoo mail or
hotmail will ask you to enter your username and password within
the web page not in a pop up.
How your personal information can be collected by
a web site:
Why You Might Not Want Your Information collected
- Online forms or registration information - You may be
asked to provide personal information to gain access to a web
site, or parts of a web site. You may be asked to participate in
a survey that asks personal information.
- Cookies - Sometimes "cookies" must be enabled to use
or access a web site. Cookies are small programs downloaded to
your computer that track your online usage and send this
information back to the originator of the cookie. This is
something that can be disabled or managed from a browser, or
disabled from "Internet Options" in the computer's Control
- Active X Controls that must be enabled to use parts of
a web site.
- Clear Gif or Web Bugs are now common on web sites and
email. These are transparent tiny tiny image files that contain
programs that install undetected on your computer and transfer
information back to the source of the "web bug"
- Information collected invisibly by a cookie or transparent
gif, but considered legitimate, may record the web sites that you
visit, what ecommerce sites you visit, what products you purchase
- Information collected invisibly by a cookie or a transparent
gif, for illegal purposes, may record your username, password.
These are often used to steal your identity or access your
financial information. (see Phishing on the Email Safety
- Collected information can be used to create a profile of you,
possibly for marketing or possibly for identity theft.
- Once your information is collected it can be shared or sold
to a 3rd party. For example: online advertising networks such as;
hitbox; linkexchange; or double click; sell your profile
information to third parties. This is not considered
site can be sold to another organization that does collect
can be logged and analyzed. Over time your "query information"
could give a distinct and alarmingly detailed profile of you
- This could lead increased security vulnerabilities.
- Crackers targeting online databases to harvest the information
- Few if any web sites are totally secure from others hacking
in and looking at what information they contain
- Poor information handling may allow unauthorized access to
your information. For example, a disgruntled employee may access
your information and use it fraudulently
The Best Ways to Be Safe and Protect Your Personal
- Only use secure encrypted connections for transactions such
as Online Banking or other similar sensitive transactions
- Look for a symbol on the top or bottom of your browser screen
that looks like an unbroken key or a closed lock.
- Look at the URL or in the Location field for https://
instead of http://
- Be aware that just because a web site looks legitimate and
professional doesn't mean it is. See Phishing under email privacy
- When banking online make sure to only use the web site
address (URL) that is provided by your bank. Do not use a
web site address that has come to you in an email
- When doing an online transaction make sure the web site you
are on is the legitimate web site of the business you are
purchasing from. Phone the company and ask for their web address
if you are unsure
- Read the web site's privacy policies, especially if you are
sharing personal or sensitive information with that web site. See
if there is an opt-out provision or a way to have your
information deleted once it has been entered. To delete
information submitted to a web site through a form, it would
depend on the web site and if they are given an option of
deleting information from the web site's database once entered.
This is why people should look to see if there is something like
an opt-out provision.The option of saving data from web pages is
addressed in the "Browser Settings" page.
- Make sure the browser is not saving the information that is
put into an online form. Especially check the browser settings of
public computers before using to make sure the form data from web
pages is not being saved in the browser. (See Browser settings)
- Use generic information if you are asked to register on a web
site but there is no reason for that web site to have your
- Generic information would be:
- Name: Someone
- Street: Somestreet
- City: Some city
- You may have to use a postal code that matches the Province
or State you use
- A generic phone number would be: (area code) 555-5555, you
may have to use a valid area code
- Don't give out your personal information in online forms or
surveys unless it is absolutely necessary. Sometimes you may have
to fill in a form to buy something or obtain the services of the
web site. Be cautious with how much personal information you give
out (even on reputable web sites).
- Use a disposable email address to have an alternate address
for web site forms and registration. For example mail accounts
with yahoo, hotmail, myway.
- Be aware that when you fill out forms there may be buttons
that are already checked, often these authorize "opting-in" to a
marketing campaign. Simply uncheck them.
- Some suggestions for Cookie Settings that you might try: (See
Browser settings to make settings.)
- Set your browser to prompt you when a cookie is about to be
set, then only accept some of the cookies
- Or set your browser to only accept session cookies that will
be deleted when you log out of the web site, or close the
- Set your browser to NOT accept 3rd party cookies
- Surf Anonymously using 3rd party software, such as Anonymizer
(See External Resources page).
- Use a program, for example AdAware, that locates and allows
you to delete spyware, tracking cookies, etc. (See External Resources page).
- Use a program, like Hijack, that allows you to see programs
that are loaded into your computer at startup that may be used
maliciously to take over your browser or Internet connection (See
External Resources page).
Manage (delete some or all) Cookies, Cache, History, and
Location bar regularly. (See Browser
**If you are at risk of violence in
the home, use caution if you think your abuser will notice an
empty history or cache** (See External Resources)