Shopping, social networking, browsing---these are popular activities on the Internet. However, this convenience comes with considerable risk to your security and privacy.

To protect your privacy online:

1) Install anti-virus software, anti-spyware software, and a firewall and make sure it is up-to-date.

2) Configure your browser or operating system to manage pop-ups, cookies, or block specific websites.

3) Encrypt your email.

4) Back up important files.

5) Change your passwords regularly and use hard-to-guess passwords. Do not give your password to anyone.

6) Clear your computer's memory after browsing.

7) Opt out of third party information sharing.

8) Use a personal email account for personal emails.

9) Make sure that online forms are secure.

10) Look for and read website privacy policies to learn how your information will be used and protected.

11) Do not put personally identifying information in your search terms.

12) Never share your phone number, physical address, or social security number on public websites.

13) Teach your children to be privacy savvy-talk to them about getting your permission before giving out information online.

14) Your public IP address can be used to track you and your activities. To hide your IP address from the websites you visit or other computers you communicate with on the Internet, use web proxies and anonymizing software.

15) Do not open email from an unknown or suspicious source, and never click on links asking for personal information.

16) Only open attachments if you are expecting them and know what they contain.

17) Think twice about filling out and submitting contest entries online.

For more information about protecting your privacy online, see the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse fact sheet on Internet Privacy.