Control your web browser privacy in five easy steps

There's an abnormally large amount of attention being payed to so-called privacy here at the start of 2012, and Google's "Do Not Track" button has fired up the stove for further fanning of flames here in late February. There's a lot of ways to "protect" yourself in the connected, mobile, and communicative world of today, but none is better than this: just keep away from the keyboard. What I'm saying is that should a person want to have total and complete severance from tracking on the web, there's only one way: stop using it. For everyone else in the world that wants to be realistic, here's five steps that will lead you to glory.

1. Hit the Preferences

The place you're going to stop websites from attaching to your person first is the preferences pane in any one of the many web browsers you might be using. If you're using Google's Chrome, you'll want to head to your Preferences menu, then to Under the Hood, then to your Privacy options. These options are as simple as flipping on or off a switch, and they work wonders.

2. Change your Passwords

It's undeniably simple to do, and you can do it as often as you like. The easiest way a person can track your movements online today is to figure out your email password, for example, and see what's going on in your life email by email. There's no mystery about tracking a person when they've got the passwords to your bank, Facebook, and smartphone accounts – change them, and change them often. And most important of all, perhaps: make sure they're different from one another.

The first thing a scammer does when they find one of your passwords is check the same password at every other site you use to see if it works there too.

3. Keep your important information to yourself

There are certain sites on the web that you can trust with your vital information, but none of them are going to want you to submit your social security number to win a prize or a cash payout. Play it safe and never enter a contest on the web EVER unless you only need to give out your name – have people contact you through Facebook or Google+. With the advanced level of communication in modern day social networking sites, there's not even a need to use email anymore for non-business matters.

4. Trust no one

Do not trust a site that offers you protection against tracking. The best tracking protection you can get is your own common sense, and when that fails, the common sense of your niece or nephew or good friend who knows about all this computer stuff, as it were. If you do not trust yourself to not leak your own important information to strangers, you certainly shouldn't trust a stranger to protect it.

5. Press the Do Not Track button via Google, Microsoft, AOL and the rest

These buttons will be popping up soon on your favorite browsers, but they wont be easy to discover. The "Do Not Track" feature you're hearing about today is not going to be up front and center of your favorite big companies, and it's not going to be something that's automatically flipped on. You're going to have to hunt for that button, and when you find it, you're going to have to flip it to "DO NOT." As these sites reveal said tracking options, we'll let you know here at SlashGear. Check your web browser's preferences now for the "Do Not Track" option and flip it on now if you've got it!

Meanwhile: be safe and act smart!