Latest developments in the world of online privacy

To fully protect your identity online and offline, it is imperative to remain vigilant and to prepare for the multitude of new threats that arrive daily.

The world has become an especially creepy place thanks to the internet. Hackers, with the right set of tools, can find out all sorts of scandalous information about a person in no time at all. Enacting quality layered security measures and being diligent about online activities goes a long way, but to truly protect your identity online and offline, it is imperative to remain vigilant and to prepare for the multitude of new threats that arrive daily.

Since knowledge is power, be sure to keep reading to learn about the latest threats to your online privacy, and developments that are making it safer for everyone to use the web.

Most web users nonchalant about cookies: An October report found that less than 1.5 percent of all web users will click on a website’s privacy setting page to learn about and adjust a page’s cookie settings, Econsultancy reported. Among those that click to learn more about a site’s cookie policy, only about 8 percent continued until they were able to alter cookies preferences. Yet, from within that subgroup, more than 58 percent did not change the default settings.

E-commerce websites and businesses rely on cookies to learn more about the interests and buying habits of consumers, according to the online news source. However, privacy advocates have called for laws banning or curtailing the practice, saying companies now know too much about web users.

“This data suggests that, with the current implementation of the cookie law, online businesses have little to fear,” Graham Charlton wrote in an October 31 Econsultancy article. Since the link is usually somewhat difficult to locate, it seems that most consumers don’t bother adjusting the settings if they can even find it at all.

Google adds DNT feature to Chrome: Users of Chrome can roam the internet free of prying eyes now, as Google earlier this month added a feature to the web browser’s toolbar that is intended to make it easier for users to change a page’s tracking status, Wired’s Webmonkey blog reported.

This is not the first time that Google has allowed users to manually restrict a website’s ability to collect their information. However, Webmonkey reported that this new add-on streamlines the process by which the settings can be altered. Instead of having to click through at least three icons to enable Do Not Track capabilities, the feature is visible through one click.

“The new drop-down menu also has options to control a website’s permissions for features like geolocation, pop-ups, plugins, fullscreen mode, camera/microphone access and more,” Scott Gilbertson wrote in a November 7 blog post. “There’s technically nothing new about these permissions – they’ve all been available through Chrome’s preferences page for some time – but the new user interface for accessing them is the best I’ve seen in any browser (and one I hope other browsers copy).”

Facebook messages not so private after all: Reports emerged earlier this year in France and the United States indicating that private Facebook messages sent in 2007 and 2008 had begun showing up in users’ profile timelines. Facebook told Mashable that it did not detect any bug in its privacy system, and the online news source was not able to independently confirm any of the reported incidents. However, the September 25 article did note that users should change their privacy settings to ensure only approved parties can view their posts and messages.

What steps should people undertake to protect their privacy online? Do you think organizations collect too much personal information, or are such measures necessary in order to run a successful e-commerce enterprise? Leave your comments below to let us know what you think about these trends!

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.