s privacy possible in the internet age?
Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/g4ll4is/8521624548/

Is maintaining privacy in the age of the internet possible? To some degree, yes. But it takes an awareness of the many ways less than scrupulous types can access your information, a commitment to keeping your private information safe, and an ongoing effort to thwart leaks of your personal data.

Whether we like it or not, most of us have an online footprint. If you have a social media account, surf the net, buy online or use email, the potential for someone to hack your personal information exists. Here's how to be smart about reducing the chances someone will share, publish or take advantage of your personal information.

Your goal to keep your information as secure as possible in a world where publishing information accessible world-wide takes nothing more than an internet connection and the push of a button will take effort. The following tips will help you keep do what you can to keep your personal information private.

Are You Covering Your Tracks Online?

Start with your social media accounts. If you haven't always paid close attention to your privacy settings, take the time to check that they are as secure as possible from unwanted eyes. Your location, marital status and birthday may seem like harmless information, but for someone on a campaign to build a profile about you, that information is golden. No longer using a social media account? Delete it to avoid personal information being accessed on sites you've forgotten about.

If you surf the net, make sure you use anti-virus protection and make it a habit to delete cookies on a regular basis. You'll prevent data brokers from tracking and gathering personal information about you via your surfing habits to compile into a profile about you to sell to third parties -- a very real business that attracts opportunists looking to make money off from marketing companies interested in your internet activities.

Finally, be savvy about the information you share with others over email. Most of us are careful not to give credit card information over the phone to telemarketers. Be just as cautious with providing any personal information over email to companies and even government agencies -- you simply never know when an email account could be hacked, or the information used by a disgruntled or unscrupulous employee.

What More Can You Do To Keep Your Information Safe?

Being savvy about how information can be accessed and used by companies is the first step to ensuring you are more careful about the kinds of information you share. 

If you really want to erase your online tracks, you can hire a company to remove your personal information from directories. You may have heard of free online directories like Spokeo.com, Intelius.com, or Mylife.com. Search for your name and if a profile appears, simply contact the directories to request that they delete your information. You can also hire someone to do a Spokeo or Intelius removal  for you.

By taking the cautious measures recommended in this article, you'll thwart those who make it their business to hack your personal information -- and you'll sleep better at night knowing you've made the effort to maintain your privacy online.