Web privacy Keep Off The Prying Eyes

Do you like
to maintain your privacy? Do you like to control what personal information
is being distributed over the web and being collected by unknown
people for unknown purposes?

Do websites
capture information about me without my knowledge when I surf? Can
companies gather information about my computer when I load their
software? Can companies compile information about me from different
sources and create a profile?
An answer to all these questions is yes!

The
receiving end

Your browser is selling you out. Without your knowledge, it’s offering
personal information to marketers who are only too happy to bombard
you with product offers, advertisements and golden opportunities
to make money at home. And once their servers lock in your information,
there’s nothing to stop them from selling it. Your internet service
provider (ISP), operating system, browser and IP address are public
knowledge-some vital information that is open for being collected
when visiting a web site.

Your email address,
your FTP information, your domain configuration, the owner of your
network-everything can be exploited without your knowledge. Information
like sites you visit, your browser type, your screen resolution
is all available to be tapped. The date, time and the time zone
on your computer are also open to all to trace out where you are
from.
More-information about your machine being enabled or not for JavaScript,
VBScript, or JAVA. Your JavaScript monitor information and information
about what file types you accept is also available. For example,
image/gif, ‘*’ is wildcard: application/vnd.ms-excel, application/msword,
application/vnd.ms-powerpoint, image/gif, image/x-xbitmap, image/jpeg,
image/pjpeg, */*. If you want to get an idea of some of the information
your browser is happy to give, check out the website www.anonymizer.com/3.0/snoop.cgi.

The increase
in transmission of confidential information over the internet has
been accompanied by an increased need to protect this information
from prying eyes. There are a variety of encryption schemes and
programs available, both as internet standards and commercial applications.
With the high evolution speed associated with the internet, the
capabilities and ease of use of these programs is changing rapidly.
Among commercial applications you can find a variety of encryption
algorithms. The most popular among such applications are Blow Fish
and PGP (Pretty Good Privacy).

Beware
the raiders

There are several ways to reduce the amount of personal information
you give away to the net. Strategies can be as simple as removing
personal information, such as your name and email address, from
your web browser configuration. It is a good idea to be cautious
of downloaded ActiveX modules, although Microsoft has clearly shown
us that watching out for downloads is not always enough.

Maintain a low
profile while browsing the web by using a proxy server, which sits
between your PC and the sites you visit. Instead of capturing your
information, web servers see only the proxy’s identity. This ensures
that your computer no longer passes on your ISP’s name or sends
out information regarding sites you have visited. Set spam filters
to scan for the specific receiver address instead of the sender
address or content to make the anti-spam filtering reliable. Block
the transfer of cookies from all sites outside of your approved
list.
Java? No Thanks! Java and JavaScript applets can take control of
your browser. Among other tricks, JavaScript can send you to a web
page you didn’t select, open a new email message or send internal
commands to your browser-all without your having selected or clicked
on anything. So while you’re modifying your browser’s settings,
disable Java and JavaScript too. Privacy has always been a highly
prized right, but to preserve it in this information age you need
extra effort and initiative.

Yateen
Chodnekar

Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corp, Tokyo

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