How to Conceal Your Cookie

How to guard your privacy while on the Web.

The Web is watching you. Some sites track your every move, record your Email address, the type of computer you're using, even the sites you've visited recently.

To guard your privacy, you need to conceal your "cookie" -- a file in your Web browser that often gives your profile away. Go to the Anonymizer Web station, follow the directions, and you can travel the Web anonymously. It's the Web's version of caller-ID blocking. There are drawbacks, however: Anonymizer will prevent you from seeing and hearing some interactive content (unless you want to reveal your identity), and it will turn your cruising into a crawl.

Coordinates: Anonymizer, (http://www.anonymizer.com)

Anonymizer won't protect your email. That's because your electronic ID is needed to access your email account. But you can hide your messages from prying eyes -- even those of your employer -- by using a form of encryption. There are sophisticated commercial encryption programs available, but one of the best is free.

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) allows you to scramble email so it can be read by only the intended recipient. (You can't even read it after it's encrypted.) It uses two "keys." One is an encryption key; tell business associates and friends to use this key when sending email to you. It will encrypt the message, but only you can decode it by using a second, private key.

There's a free version of PGP available for downloading as well as a commercial version. But all you need is the freeware. A word of warning: study the instructions before using PGP. It's easy to send a message that looks as though it's encrypted but really isn't.

Coordinates: Pretty Good Privacy, (http://www.pgp.com)

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