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Know What Information Is Being Collected When You Visit a Website

When visiting unknown websites, be vigilant about protecting your identity. Remember that some information is automatically made visible to the site. Information such as the computer's IP address, domain name (e.g., .com, .gov, or .edu), software details, and page visit information is often saved in cookies so that the organization may develop and store user profiles of website visitors. If a website uses cookies, the organization may be able to collect even more information, such as your browsing patterns, which include other sites you've visited.

If the site you're visiting is malicious, the files on your computer, as well as passwords stored in the temporary memory, may be at risk. Generally, organizations use the information that is gathered automatically for legitimate purposes, such as generating statistics about their sites. Be careful supplying personal information. Unless you trust a site, don't give your address, password, or credit card information. Look for indications that the site uses SSL to encrypt your information. Although some sites require you to supply your Social Security number (e.g., sites associated with financial transactions such as loans or credit cards), be especially wary of providing this information online.