Must-know privacy tips for Facebookand more

Explore encryption, scrutinize your settings, and consider alternative online services that are more discreet.

RECENT HEADLINES ABOUT shadowy government agencies and high-profile hack attacks drive home a crucial point: Your online privacy is best protected when you keep an iron grip on the information you’re handing out. If your personal info is on a server somewhere, it’s not truly yours.
So many core aspects of our lives have shifted to the cloud, mostly to our great benefit. Every gain in convenience, however, comes with a loss of control, and that loss of control all too often comes bundled with privacy or security woes.

Must-know privacy tips for Facebookand more

You can take some simple precautions to minimize the amount of personal information that you have online. But before we get started, remember that this data checkup is about what you’re comfortable with. If nothing else, this article can help you make better decisions about the information you share with the services you love.

Give Google the cold shoulder

Must-know privacy tips for Facebookand more

Just imagine the dossier Google has on you: your search history, the sites you visit, your Google Play purchases, location data from Android and Chrome and Maps, your stored Google Drive documents…it looks like a lot, doesn’t it?
To its credit, Google takes data security seriously, receiving fairly good marks in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s annual “Who has your back?” survey But Google also makes heavy use of your data, and the company touched a nerve upon announcing its plansto use real namesand faces ( googlename) in online advertising.
Divorcing Google isn’t a realistic option for most people, though, given its superior services and sheer ubiquity Switching to Microsoft’s services still leaves your information in the cloud. So what can you do to reduce the amount of personal data you’re sharing with either online monolith?
To start, you can prevent Google from collecting and sharing your data as much as possible. Using your browser’s private/incognito mode will erase tracking cookies, including Google’s, when you close it. You can also tell Google to stop trailing you in youraccount’s Web History page (, at the expense of Google Now features, and tweak your general Google privacy settings (
Another option is to replace some Google services with more-private alternatives. Do you use Google Docs but not its online capabilities? Try the open-source Libre Office If you need basic image-editing capabilities, skip Picasa and stick to {go.
And if you can afford to cut the Google cord completely, there’s always the nuclear option ( to consider. (See instructions on how to shutter your Microsoft account at go. measure.)

Reduce your Facebook presence

When it comes to mapping your social connections, no company knows more than Facebook. And just like Google, Facebook is practically impossible to shut out of your life. You need it to sign in to services, play games, chat, and keep in touch with pals.
Tweaking your Facebook profile’s privacy settings facebookprivacv) can keep snoops at bay, but Facebook itself has a reputation for making questionable user data decisions. How can you take back control without divorcing Facebook completely?
Easy: Stop clicking that Like button so much and consider removing past thumbs-ups. Don’t add extra information to your profile such as life events, places you’ve lived, and so on. (Watch the YouTube video at to learn how to delete life events.)
Finally, decide whether to continue sharing your photo library online. Is anybody really looking at your pictures, or are the photos just fodder for Facebook’s face-detection algorithms?
Facebook also tracks you as you travel from site to site, using the Like buttons embedded on each. Make sure you’re signed out of Facebook to prevent that from happening, or use your browser’s private mode.
Remember that you can delete your Facebook account fqo.pcworld. com/endfacebook) if you’re able—and willing—to cut the social cord completely.

Must-know privacy tips for Facebookand more

Clamp down on cloud storage

If you keep files in a cloud-storage lockerforanytime, anywhere access, you probably don’t want to give up that convenience. You can, however, seize control of your cloud documents by encrypting them, which helps protect against data breaches and government information requests.
Note that while many services (such as Dropbox) encrypt your data on their servers, they control the encryption keys in most cases. That makes using the service easier, but it also means you are not in control of when or for whom that encrypted data is unlocked.
A truly “zero-knowledge” cloud provider such as SpiderOak ( or Wuala (, on the other hand, never has access to your personal encryption key, meaning that only you can unlock your data. (Don’t lose the key!) Alternatively, you could manually encrypt the files that are bound for Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, SugarSync, or any other cloud service by using a utility such as TrueCrypt ( or the cloud-focused tool BoxCryptor (
Or, if you don’t want to entrust your stuff to anyone else, you could use an Internet-connected storage drive such as Western Digital’s My Cloud (

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All the rest

We’ve taken care of your major online accounts, but what about all those random accounts you have connected to your social networks? Go through the settings of your Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts to see the list of apps and services connected to them.Then simply remove access permissions for the ones you no longer use.
Speaking of apps and services, it’s good data hygiene to regularly delete accounts you’ve left by the wayside. Go ahead: Close that MySpace profile and kill your Klout score if you’re not using them.

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