privacy issuesComputer Privacy Issues are getting a lot of importance these days. The growing instances of Internet frauds and identity theft has created an awareness about online privacy issues and people have started to take these things seriously.

Most of the attacks against your privacy and identity take place through the data stored on your computer. You never know how much personal and private data can be extracted by a determined hacker, if he is able to gain control over your computer.

This post is an attempt to create awareness about such computer privacy issues and let you know the locations, where your private data is stored in your computer.

9 Places, Where A Hacker Might Look To Know More About You

1. Index.dat File: The index.dat file functions as an active database, which runs as long as a user is logged on in Windows. It functions as a repository of redundant information, such as web URLs, search queries and recently opened files.

One of the concern is that the index.dat files cannot be deleted or erased easily, because they are always open when Windows is running. Open or “locked” files cannot be deleted in any way when the process using them is running. Yet another privacy concern against index.dat file is that it causes the operating system gives a false sense of security. Even after the user has cleared the internet cache folder, temporary internet files folder, and history folder, the index.dat files on Windows continue to store all the visited web addresses and cookies and some temporary files. This may eventually cause the index.dat files to grow very large, while the average user remains unaware of what is going on.

temporary2. Temporary Internet files: It is a directory on Microsoft Windows computer systems. The directory is used by Internet Explorer and other web browsers to cache pages and other multimedia content, such as video and audio files, from websites visited by the user. This allows such websites to load more quickly the next time they are visited.

Although Temporary Internet Files allow you to surf Internet faster by quickly loading the content of a previously visited webpage, but privacy enthusiasts always criticize it because of the privacy issue srelated with it.

cookies3. Web site cookies: Website Cookies are a small piece of text stored on a user’s computer by a web browser. A cookie consists of one or more name-value pairs containing bits of information such as user preferences, shopping cart contents, the identifier for a server-based session, or other data used by websites.

Cookies enhance your browsing experience by providing you a personalized experience of the Web. They help different websites to remember you and allow you quick access to the member areas of these websites. Today’s Internet cannot be imagined without cookies. But at the same time the cookies can tell a lot about you and your browsing habits. This is a great privacy issue for the computer users.

4. Browser History: The history in your browser is a useful feature. But it also tells a lot about you and your browsing habits.

url history5. Typed URL history: This features is used by most of the modern browsers to auto-complete or ‘guess’ the web site or page when you type the URL of a previously visited site. It add to the user convenience and make your web surfing a lot quicker. But it is privacy concern for your computer and a quick look at your Types URL History can tell a lot about your browsing habits.

6. Saved Passwords and AutoComplete Information: This is crucial. Most modern browsers allow you to save your passwords and private information through their AutoComplete feature. It saves a lot of time whenever you visit the website next time. As you do not have to remember your password and other information every time as it gets filled in the appropriate boxes automatically.

But this convenience exposes to a huge computer privacy issue. Any determined attack can easily reveal all your sensitive information. We have already carried a post on how to Disallow IE Password Saving Feature.


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7. Recent Documents: Recent Documents feature of Windows gives you a quick access to the most recent documents you have used. it is nice features, but allows an unauthorized person also to quickly know, what you are upto.

8. Usage history of: Start/Run, Search: These things contain vital traces about how you use your computer and what are the things you usually do on your computer. These important bits pf private information is stored on your computer and you can tweak the windows registry keys to wipe them out.

9. Temporary Directories and Temporary Files: Windows temporary directory (Temp folders) stores Windows and other programs temporary files. This directory can contain files from programs you no longer have installed or files which may violate your privacy. If you know where these files are located in your computer, you can manually delete them through Windows Explorer. Otherwise there are lots of free tools available on Internet, which can do the job for you.

All these computer privacy issues are definitely a cause of concern, but it is also a fact that they do their bot to add to your overall user experience and make the use of computers more pleasurable and fast. Remember, it is always a trade-off between the security and privacy on one hand and convenience on the other hand. The final call has to be taken by you only.

[Via One Man’s Blog]