Internet Security

digital information personal information

Staying Safe Online

Every individual has information they would rather not share with the world. However, when using the internet can a person truly be anonymous? Whatever your reason is for seeking online anonymity here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your information stays protected while using the internet. Anytime you visit a website, a certain amount of information is shared with the site automatically. Internet security should be on the minds of even average internet users.

Shared Information Can Include:

  • IP Address
    Each computer with access to the internet is assigned a unique IP (internet protocol) address. This address is a list of numbers separatedby periods that is attached to your specificcomputer.Generally speaking, yourIP address is thelocation of your computer when it is connected to the Internet.Computers may have a static IP addressthat never changes or a dynamic IP addressthat utilizesone of many open addresses through your internet serviceprovider.Anytime you access a website your IP address is transmitted to the site.Websites do not necessarilyknow who you are, but they do keep recordsof every IP access that accesses their site for a specific amount of time.
  • Domain Name
    Every user account on the internet is split into a specific domain. Domain names can be used to identify IP addresses within a particular group

    .gov – Government agencies
    .edu – Educational institutions
    .org – Organizations (nonprofit)
    .mil – Military
    .com – Commercial business
    and more

  • Software Details
    Organizations operating a website can determinewhich browser, browser version, and operating system you were using when accessing their website.
  • Page Visits
    When accessing a website, site owners cansee howlong you stayed on the site, which pages you visited andif you came to thewebsitevia searchengine.
Additional information, such as browsing pattern and other sites visited may be collected if the website you are visiting uses cookies.  Passwords stored and computer files may be at risk if you visit a malicious site.

How Will Your Information Be Used?

Typically, organizations gather the above information to help improve their site. By collecting and analyzing the statistics website owners can better understand their site, know which content is accessed most and can gather marketing information. These statistics help website owners modify and market information and products on their site more efficiently.

However, some websites may collect your information for malicious purposes. These websites can potentially access passwords, files, and personal information on your computer making you a target for identifying theft and other fraudulent activity.

Limited Information Collected

  • Be Skeptical
    Not all websites can be trusted. Avoid giving personal information such as address, passwords, social security numbers or banking information online unless the site can be verified.
  • Limit cookies
    Personal information can be stored in cookies on your computer and accessed by hackers. Ensure you limit the use of cookies on your device to protect your information to the fullest.
  • Browse Cautiously
    When using the internet, it is imperative to have strong security settings and virus protection. If a website seems suspicious, leave immediately.
No matter how anonymous you may want to be online just remember small pieces of information are always left behind. Taking steps to reduce the amount of information revealed can minimize how much personal data is shared but cannot entirely eliminate it.