It’s more or less inevitable: Over a period of time, many organ-izations are going to collect your e-mail address. And, sooner or later, after signing up for something and providing your e-mail address to this Web site or that Web site, your e-mail address is going to leak to or be purchased by a mass mailing operator (a nice term for a spammer).
Surfing the Web Safely
I’m sure that I sound like your mother when I tell you to surf wisely. As soon as you start to venture off the Internet’s main street into the dimly-lit back alleys, especially in the red-light district, you’ll find a different class of Web-site operator who resorts to dirty tricks like attempting to hijack your browser’s configuration settings or burying you in pop-up windows that won’t go away until you reboot.
Unless you do have to visit a potpourri of Web sites for (ahem) “research” purposes, I suggest you stay on the paved and well-lit parts of the Internet, where the Web sites have a somewhat better reputation and you’re less likely to get into trouble. Even on the Internet, you’ve got to stay in the nicer and more familiar parts of town. It’s especially in the cheesy parts of the Internet where your security and privacy settings work hard to protect you.
Sharing Personal Information Carefully
You need to be careful about sharing personal information about yourself online. By “personal information” I mean things like your name, date of birth, tax identification number, and bank and credit card numbers.
While many sites keep very close tabs on this personal information, other sites don’t do such a hot job of protecting your information. And one of the other problems is that some of the unscrupulous Web site operators actually sell or give away your private information to others — often (you guessed it) to spammers.
Unless you have no identity, you should seriously consider picking up a copy of Preventing Identity Theft For Dummies. And make sure you only purchase it from a truly legitimate Web site, or find it at a bookstore near you.