Site Menu
Essential Safety
Web Site Safety
 - General
 - Browser Settings
Chat Safety
Email Safety
Social Networking
Privacy Rights
External Resources
Site Map
To Provide Feedback:

Web Site Safety

Be Smart, Be Safe, But Don't be Left Behind!
Protect Your Privacy Online

Essential basics for protecting your privacy when viewing a web site:

  • 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 Browser settings)
  • Set your browser to not accept 3rd party cookies. (See Browser settings)
  • Use generic personal information when you fill out forms or surveys that have no right to ask for your personal information
  • 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:
  • 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 Panel.
  • 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"
Why You Might Not Want Your Information collected
  • 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 online.
  • 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 page)
  • 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 illegal.
  • A web site's privacy policy may change. For instance a web site can be sold to another organization that does collect personal information.
  • Popular search engines use cookies to track queries, these can be logged and analyzed. Over time your "query information" could give a distinct and alarmingly detailed profile of you personally.
    • This could lead increased security vulnerabilities.
      • Crackers targeting online databases to harvest the information they contain
      • 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 Information

  • 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 personal information
    • 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 browser
    • 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 settings)

**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)