How to Lock Down Your Personal Data

The best place to start is with your Web browser, says Rob Shavell, co-founder of Abine, a privacy company.

If you feel as if your computer is stalking you and you want it to stop, a host of free tools and software can take you off the grid—or at least limit the amount of information you share.

The best place to start is with your Web browser, says Rob Shavell, co-founder of Abine, a privacy company. All browsers offer tools that allow you to block cookies, the little bits of computer code designed to track you or remember your preferences. To engage the privacy settings, hit the “tools” or “settings” button on your browser and choose a privacy level. You can also download Abine’s free software, which blocks third-party cookies -- the type that telegraph your activity to strangers, as opposed to those that help you complete a purchase on Amazon. You can do much the same by going to Disconnect.me, a site launched by former Google executive Brian Kennish.

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Kathy Kristof
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Kristof, editor of SideHusl.com, is an award-winning financial journalist, who writes regularly for Kiplinger's Personal Finance and CBS MoneyWatch. She's the author of Investing 101, Taming the Tuition Tiger and Kathy Kristof's Complete Book of Dollars and Sense. But perhaps her biggest claim to fame is that she was once a Jeopardy question: Kathy Kristof replaced what famous personal finance columnist, who died in 1991? Answer: Sylvia Porter.