CNET's guide to keeping your information private online

Between Facebook, your email and your browsing history, you're putting, and leaving, a lot of your personal information online. Here's how to get a handle on keeping it private.

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
4 min read
© 237/Adam Gault/Ocean/Corbis

Much of modern life is now spent online and in the cloud. We share our vacations on Facebook, we text and email instead of making a call, and we order things on Amazon instead of going to a store. Whether you do just one or all of these things, you're giving a lot of information about yourself and what you do over to people you've never met.

What happens to that information, and who gets to see it, isn't an easy to question to answer. That's why two groups have organized Data Privacy Day, which takes place today, January 28. And to observe the occasion, I've pulled together a list of CNET How Tos from the past year that focus on keeping your data private, securing your software and online activity, backing up your vital data and preventing just anyone from annoying you on social media. Read on, stay safe and stay private.

Browsers, email and authentication

Spot a phishing e-mail: Even if you have security software, phishing is a serious threat. Here's how to spot and avoid these dangerous emails.

Two-factor authentication: What you need to know (FAQ):Twitter's got it. Apple's got it, too. Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon have had it for a while. But why's two-factor authentication important, and will it keep you safe?

How to delete your Amazon browsing history: Want to remove your embarrassing searches from Amazon? Check out these steps to delete any of the items you've looked up in the past.


Stop Google from tracking your voice: Here's how to listen to and delete recordings on your Google account, and how to stop them from being saved to begin with.

Send self-destructing Gmail messages: This Chrome extension lets you revoke access to emails you sent, but the destruction involved leaves a mark.

How to blur personal information on Google Maps: Was your window open when Google took photos for Maps street view? Check out these steps to remove the details and regain your privacy.

How to disable your Google location history: With location reporting, Google can track your whereabouts, which you may find useful, interesting or invasive. Learn where to find the map that shows your location history and how to stop Google from tracking you.

Watch this: Stop Google from tracking your location


Six ways to make your iPhone more secure: Take steps to protect your iPhone so that your information stays safe should you and your iPhone become separated.

See which apps are using Apple's location services in OS X: Do you know when an app is accessing your Mac's location? Add an arrow indicator to the menu bar to stay informed.

How to delete some or all of your Safari browsing history on iOS: Learn how to clear a portion of your browsing history in mobile Safari or all of it.


Get to know the security features in Edge: How Microsoft's new browser will keep you safe.

Edit the Privacy tab in the Windows 10 Settings menu: Windows 10 attempts to make privacy settings -- for tablets and PCs -- accessible.

Backing up

Back to basics: The three easiest ways to back up your files: In the back of your mind, you know you need to back up all of your files and pictures. But where do you start? Here's how to back up your digital life.

Watch this: The easiest ways to back up your files

Facebook and Twitter

How to make Facebook send you encrypted email notifications: Learn how to add an OpenPGP public key to your Facebook profile and set it so that Facebook will encrypt the notification emails it sends to you.

Seven tips for securing your Facebook account: Facebook can be a tricky beast when it comes to keeping your account private and secure. Here are seven tips to help you tame it.

How to find and delete anything from Facebook: Find and delete comments, likes, photos and messages from your Facebook profile.

How to access Facebook's new Security Checkup feature: This process helps you shore up your account, eliminating unwanted log-ins and log-in notifications.

Watch this: Five ways to improve your Facebook experience

Perform a Facebook Security Checkup from the Android app: Facebook has rolled out its Security Checkup feature to Android, and here's how to access it.

Prevent friends from posting on your Facebook timeline: Tired of people sharing your personal information on your timeline for everyone to see? Check out these two settings to take back control of your timeline.

How to check login history on your Twitter account: Want to make sure you're the only person connecting to your Twitter account? Here's how to access the new connectivity dashboard on Twitter.

Disable the ability for anyone to direct-message you on Twitter: Twitter has opened the DM flood gates. Here's how you can ensure not just anyone can message you.