OK, let’s get one thing straight right off the bat…you HAVE no privacy on the internet.  Everywhere you go and everything you do online is being tracked and recorded by someone, somewhere.   Virtually every website you visit installs cookies on your machine.  Now, cookies are generally harmless and in many cases actually improve the end user experience by speeding up browsing.   You couldn’t use a shopping cart or bank online without them. Unfortunately they can also do more nefarious things, like report your browsing history to their authors.  Even if you set your browser to clear it’s cache when you close it, persistent cookies may still exist in other memory on your computer and will simply recreate the deleted cookie when it detects it’s absence.  BetterPrivacy is a Firefox extension that, according to their extension page will: Remove or manage a new and uncommon kind of cookies, better known as LSO’s. The BetterPrivacy safeguard offers various ways to handle Flash-cookies set by Google, YouTube, Ebay and others.  Google has no such extension available for Chrome.  Hmm….

The true threat to your online privacy however does not come from invisible strings of code sent by some anonymous server somewhere…no, the greatest risk is what we voluntarily do to ourselves.  If you have a Facebook, Google, Twitter, You Tube, Google Plus or even a Gmail account, you are being watched.  Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear that he doesn’t give a damn about your privacy and is, with naked aggression, tracking, recording and organizing every single byte of information you post on Facebook.

Zuck’s not the only one, Google’s new privacy policy which was implemented a few days ago says basically this:
“We don’t care about your privacy and are tracking every move you make on the internet and selling it to our advertisers…don’t like it?  Tough, don’t go online then.”

Ever wondered why during a browsing session, served advertisements on some sites are trying to sell you something you were just looking at a few minutes ago on another site?  Aside from being kind of creepy, that is the magic of Google tracking software at work.

There’s no closing the gate now that the horses are out, and currently the only defense would be to stop using the internet altogether. Since any steps you take will be temporary at best, diligence is the key. Run a good MalWare/SpyWare program along side your virus software. Set your browser cache to delete cookies after every session. Don’t (and I can’t believe I have to say this) open unsolicited email, even if it’s from someplace you have shopped.

There you have today’s ‘Ray of Sunshine’. Hopefully my next post will be more constructive.

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