Privacy & Security

Privacy & Online Safety Tips

Learn about practical suggestions to safeguard the personal information of you and your family.

Online Shopping Safety Tips

Online shopping is fast and easy, but it's still "buyer beware." Providing your information online can be as safe as providing it to a store your visit in-person, as long as you follow a few simple rules:

  • Make sure your computer's security software is up-to-date
  • Shop well-known brands or sites with which you are familiar
  • Make sure the site uses a secure check-out – look for https in the url
  • Purchase using your credit card
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it's probably is a scam
  • Understand how the site will use your data and the choices that are available to you regarding its use

Check out these links for additional tips on making online shopping safe:

How to read a privacy statement

A website's privacy policy tells you how the site collects your information and how it is used, shared and protected. When reading a privacy policy, there are questions you should think about:

  • What information does the company collect about me?
  • Is the information necessary for the online activity I am engaging in?
  • How does the site collect information about me?
  • How does the site use personal information once it is collected?
  • Do I have a choice about the way information about me is used or shared? How can I make that choice?
  • Is there a place where I can ask questions about privacy and the use of my information?

Helpful Privacy & Security Sites

Related Information

Personal Computer Security Tips

From passwords to firewalls, there are a number of basic tips and tools we all should use to secure our computers.

Use strong passwords

Passwords are the equivalent of the lock and key to your house on the Internet and help prevent misuse of your computer and other information. Choose smart passwords and protect your information using these tips:

  • Do...
    • create a password using a string of at least eight letters and numbers.
    • use one password for your computer login and a different password for online orders.
    • be very careful about responding to an e-mail, phone call, fax or letter from anyone who asks ...your password(s).
    • give your password and credit-card number only via a secure connection on a Web site.
    • change your password periodically.
  • Don't...
    • use your address, birth date, phone number, common words or your pet's name.
    • share your passwords with anyone.
    • write down any password near your computer where someone could see it.
    • carry your password in your purse or billfold.
    • give your password or credit card number via e-mail

For more on choosing safe passwords, check out the following links:

Securing your computer

The following tips from the public service group GetNetWise will help keep your computer, and the information on it, safe:

  • Always use anti-virus software and keep the software up to date. Each month, more than 500 new viruses are discovered. Doing this will help you protect yourself when using virus software, as well as everyone else with whom you communicate.Learn about virus protection.
  • Always use a firewall. A firewall is like an internal lock for information on your computer. Many computer operating systems already have firewalls installed; you just have to turn them on. You can also download and purchase other firewalls to help secure your computer. Learn more about firewalls.
  • Learn the risks and rules associated with sharing files or your Internet connection. When sharing files across a network, make sure you know the rules and tips to keep your file sharing legal and safe.
  • Disconnect from the Internet when idle. If you aren't using it, disconnect your Internet connection. No one can attack your computer when it is not connected to the Internet. This is especially important if you have a high-speed connection.
  • Be in control of your software. The software and operating system on your computer have many security features, including many you may not use. Learn how to automatically update your computer with security patches, activate firewalls and turn off any extra options that leave your information vulnerable. Learn more about software and operating system security.
  • Use tools to enhance your protection. Learn about email filters, anti-virus software and more that can help protect you from viruses and hackers.
  • Retire your computer. Wipe out your hard drive before you dispose of an old computer. People can obtain personal information from your hard drive, even when it's no longer in use. Learn how to clear your computer of personal information.

Helpful Privacy & Security Sites

Related Information