How to beat 22 Web security threats

Forewarned is forearmed. We investigate the latest and most deadly tech dangers, and explain how to fight back.

8. Your privacy in Google's hands

Google seems to be everywhere these days. Aside from its search engine, the firm offers services for email, news feeds and shopping.

The sheer breadth of information that Google handles for people is startling: email, instant messaging, VoIP, photos, maps, finance and investment portfolios, home and work addresses, reading preferences, video interests and assessments, online purchases, ‘most frequent searches', advert serving, traffic analysis and more.

Your Google account is like a diary of everything you do online, tracking your surfing behaviour and noting trends you may not be aware of. Time will tell whether we're right to entrust a single entity with all this valuable information.

The fix

You can partly extricate yourself from Google. Change the default (Google) search settings in Firefox if you must; and stop using Gmail, iGoogle and your Google Account if you're really concerned.

But so many sites now incorporate the company's AdSense, Analytics and syndication components that completely going off the Google grid may be impossible for anyone who uses an internet connection.

9. Nosy Google Android phones

Most of what you do on the Google Android mobile platform is mirrored to your Google Account. Every email you send, every calendar entry you create and every website you visit gets catalogued. The first Android handset - the T-Mobile G1 - can locate itself by radio tower or GPS, which may make it (and therefore you) highly trackable, too.

The downloadable applets that you can use with the G1 include tools to track the phone's position on a web page or via text co-ordinates you can plug into a map, and tools to show you other Android users within a 10-mile radius. Many of the downloadable applications have access to your phone logs and phonebook, and have permission to connect to the internet by default.

The fix

For many people, these snoop-friendly features are useful and welcome. But if you're concerned about privacy, think twice before committing to the G1. We recommend waiting until Google tweaks the software to rein in the intrusiveness.

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