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GorDoom
10-08-2010, 04:03 PM
Know what you're revealing when you go online
from USA Today

Do you ever wonder about those ads on a website that specifically mention your hometown? Or ads for products you looked at online, but never purchased? Some online ads seem frighteningly tailored to your likes.
By simply visiting a website, you reveal more than you probably realize. They know where you're located and other sites you've visited. Sites can even learn intimate details about you, like medical conditions.

TECH TIPS: Ask Kim
Many sites gather information about your computer. They can tweak design elements for your visit. If your Internet speed is slow, for example, they can automatically change a video's resolution.

See for yourself what you reveal by simply visiting a website. Visit my Privacy Check page now at www.komando.com/privacycheck. This page is for demonstration purposes only; no information about you or your machine is saved.

Software and IP address

So, for starters, sites know what browser and operating system you use. They can also see the language you speak. A malicious site can target specific vulnerabilities in your browser.

Sites also know your IP address. Your IP address identifies your computer on the Internet. It reveals your Internet provider. Undoubtedly, you've seen ads tailored for your location. Now you know why.

You can't block sites from gathering this information. You can use a proxy service, though. This routes your traffic through online servers. Since you don't connect directly, sites can't see your information. Tor, Privoxy and Jap are three free proxy services.

Don't think for a moment that you can use a proxy service to harass others or commit online crimes. A proxy service may be subpoenaed for your true IP address.

Browsing history

Perhaps the most worrying thing that sites can see is your browsing history. Sites know the last site you visited. And with a little work, they can see any site you've visited. That's creepy. And it puts you in danger. Phishing attacks are more effective if criminals know the banking site you use.

Sites must exploit a Web feature to see your history. By default, browsers display links you've visited in a different color. And sites can see how a page looks on your computer. If a link changes color, the site knows you've visited that link. Using special code, a site can check more than 25,000 links per second!

This only works for sites still in your history. So, to protect yourself, keep your browser's history clear. You can tell your browser not to keep a history.

In Firefox, click Tools, then Options and then Privacy. Set "Remember my browsing history for at least" to 0 days. In Internet Explorer, click Tools, then Internet Options and then General. Under Browsing History, click Settings. Set "Days to keep pages in history" to 0.

Cookies

You've heard about cookies. Sites place these small files on your machine. They then track you as you surf the Web. They can even tie your online and offline lives. You can clear these cookies easily. In IE, click Tools, then Internet Options. Click Delete under Browsing History. In Firefox, click Tools, then Clear Recent History. You'll find options for clearing cookies and other data.

Lately, we've been hearing about Flash cookies. Flash Player sets these cookies; many video sites and ads use Flash. Flash cookies are difficult to remove and can be used to bring back browser cookies. Learn how to block them at Komando.com/news.

There's a darker side. Advertisers want more than details about your computer. They may build a dossier containing your name, address, browsing habits and more. And that isn't the only threat. Malicious sites may use the information to attack you. Of course, this information could be made public if you're involved in a court case.

Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about computers and the Internet. To get the podcast or find the station nearest you, visit www.komando.com/listen. To subscribe to Kim's free e-mail newsletters, sign up at www.komando.com/newsletters. Contact her at C1Tech@gannett.com.

diggity
10-12-2010, 08:49 PM
Seriously, I cannot stress enough that you strip everything out of your Facebook account if you have one. They are the biggest identity whores out there today. I have an account but I have bastardized it to the point of no use to them - as everyone out there should.

PeterD
11-03-2010, 02:31 AM
What shouldn't be on your Facebook page?

Theo Netherland
11-03-2010, 03:10 AM
I often have these adds from gorgeous woman from my city that want to meet me. The city were I live has 95,000 people and off course I don’t know everybody, so there is a little chance I will recognise one of the woman. This makes me wonder what adds I would receive if I was living in a village of 200 people. If they tell me again about all these gorgeous woman in my small village, then how come I didn’t know them?