Protect Your Online Privacy

March 15, 2013

Being a little more concerned about my privacy, I started reading more things I could find on it. I found this article (Kill the Password: Why a String of Characters Can’t Protect Us Anymore) which goes into how you can be hacked and more. A more common practice today is called social engineering. Hackers essentially use public information sites to learn about you. They can then use this information to hack into your accounts by typically contacting the provider. The article goes into detail on how the author was hacked and how his entire digital life was remotely wiped.

What I’m writing about today is about two items that I’ve been working on for myself and my family: Spokeo (link) and WhitePages.com (link). These are the two most popular public information aggregators out there. Go ahead and look yourself up. After nervously reviewing what they mention about you, I suggest going through their processes to remove yourself from the sites.

For both techniques, I suggest using a disposable email address. 10MinuteMail.com is pretty awesome.

Remove yourself from Spokeo:
First you must find your listing(s). When you find them, copy the url from the address bar. Go to the Privacy link in the bottom right and go to the Opt-Out form. Fill out the form. They will email you a confirmation link and once you click the link, the listing is removed.

Remove yourself from WhitePages.com:
This one requires you to have an account, which I created with the disposable email address. You first find yourself on the site. Each profile page offers a claiming link. If you are not logged in, it will prompt you to log in or create a new account. It will ask you if you are the person, which you answer yes. It will take you to a screen to manage that profile. On that screen you can go to the visibility page and hide your information. I personally didn’t find that sufficient enough, because it doesn’t delete the profile. After hiding it, I then altered the first and last name to my single initial each, then I removed the phone number, address, and people that were associated with the profile.

If you have more than one listing, you can claim them too. If you are still logged in when you claim it, it will prompt you on whether or not it’s a duplicate. If you answer yes, it will remove it and you are done with that listing.

I also went a step further on both websites and looked up my address to make sure they didn’t have variations of me that weren’t coming up in the search.

There is of course more things you should be doing to protect yourself online, including, but not limited to, what you choose to share on the social site(s) of your choice.

Cheers

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