How anonymous are you?
January 28, 2019
It's important to keep our private information safe and there are additional measures we can take to protect our information online. Here are ways you can reduce the amount of information revealed about you online from the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team.
What information is being collected?
When you visit a website, a certain amount of information is automatically sent to the site. This information may include the following:
- Software details – It may be possible for an organization to determine which browser, including the version, that you used to access its site. The organization may also be able to determine what operating system your computer is running.
- Page visits – Information about which pages you visited, how long you stayed on a given page, and whether you came to the site from a search engine is often available to the organization operating the website.
How is the information used?
Generally, organizations use the information that is gathered automatically for legitimate purposes, such as generating statistics about their sites. By analyzing the statistics, the organizations can better understand the popularity of the site and which areas of content are being accessed the most. They may be able to use this information to modify the site to better support the behavior of the people visiting it.
However, some sites may collect your information for malicious purposes. If attackers are able to access files, passwords, or personal information on your computer, they may be able to use this data to their advantage. The attackers may be able to steal your identity, using and abusing your personal information for financial gain. A common practice is for attackers to use this type of information once or twice, then sell or trade it to other people. The attackers profit from the sale or trade, and increasing the number of transactions makes it more difficult to trace any activity back to them. The attackers may also alter the security settings on your computer so that they can access and use your computer for other malicious activity.
Are you exposing any other personal information?
How can you limit the amount of information collected about you?
- Browse safely - Be careful which websites you visit; if it seems suspicious, leave the site. Also make sure to take precautions by increasing your security settings (see for more information), keeping your virus definitions up to date (see for more information), and scanning your computer for spyware (see for more information).