Watch Your Tracks

Your online profile--where you go, what you buy--is vulnerable. Here's how to protect it

Run a search on your PC's hard drive for the phrase "User Profile," and you'll find a long list of items like this: yahoo.comTRUE/FALSE 3262463 493 Y v=1&n=82iosk148jr9n." This gibberish is just one in a series of digital snapshots of my recent online travels: what websites I visited; what pages I viewed and for how long; what I bought, downloaded or printed. What's more, every site I visit can send programs called "cookies" down the phone line into my machine to snag this data and either use it to try to sell me something ("He spends time at E!...

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