Protecting your privacy when using your computer

  1. Never send a Microsoft Word document by email. They all store information you may not want others to see. This could be information about your computer to parts of the document you believed you had already deleted long ago. Think about it how embarrasing it would be if you edited the document called “Love letter to Donna.doc” and saved it as “Love letter to Nina.doc” and Nina had a closer look at the file and suddenly realised that she received the same letter you’ve already sent to Donna.
  2. TANSTAAFL – There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. If an email from an unknown person or a popup window offers you something for free, you can be sure there must be some snag. The “good guys” don’t use spam mails (unsolicitised email advertisement) or annoying ad popups. And there is no such thing as a free holiday trip coming from a popup that thousands of others see as well.
  3. Don’t answer spam, not even to use the “unsubscribe” some spam mails offer. By answering, the people behind it know that your email address is a valid one, and you’ll get even more spam in the future. The best solution I’ve found so far is to use a tool like MailWasher to send back spam mails as undeliverable.
  4. Don’t stick your passwords on PostIt notes around your screen, or under your keyboard. Don’t use the same passwords in multiple places. Don’t use your name or birthday or those of relatives as your password. Don’t give your password to anyone – not even your administrator needs to know it. I know you’ve heard and read this a lot of times before, but its important.
  5. Set your browser to block third-party cookies. Nearly every browser allows this, and it will keep out all the tracking cookies without any need of additional blocking (and you don’t need third party cookies for anything useful). And if you use Internet Explorer, make sure your security settings are at least set to Average.
  6. Even better, use an alternative to Internet Explorer and Outlook Express.
  7. To be continued…