Attorney General William Schneider Urges Maine Consumers to Guard Themselves Against Internet Snoops

January 28, 2011

Data Privacy Day brings together businesses, individuals, government agencies, nonprofit groups and academics to spotlight how personal data is collected, used and stored.

AUGUSTA ? Despite warnings, many computer users unknowingly leave themselves vulnerable to financial fraud or privacy invasions. In recognition of Data Privacy Day, Attorney General William Schneider today reminded Maine residents to protect their personal information by checking the privacy settings on social Web sites and using secured networks.

Attorney General Schneider warns consumers to use common sense. ?If you post vacation updates on an open site, you're telling the world ? and possibly a burglar ? that your home is vacant. There?s also your reputation to consider ? it is becoming more common for human resources professionals to reject job candidates based on inappropriate and personally damaging information discovered online."

Here are three steps you can take now to help ensure that you don?t unintentionally compromise your personal information:

  1. Know your privacy settings. As part of Data Privacy Day, Facebook is reminding its users to review their privacy settings, found both at the bottom of every Facebook page and in your account settings. With just a few clicks, you can adjust the type of information that strangers, acquaintances and friends can access, as well as control the information they can share about you.
  2. Configure your wireless router to encrypt data. Wireless Internet access is convenient. But you need to activate your router?s encryption feature to better ensure information you transmit over the Web ? such as account logins, passwords and credit card numbers -- are scrambled.

Read the instructions that come with your wireless router to determine how to turn on the encryption feature. Two main types of encryption are available: WiFi Protected Access (WPA) and Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). Your computer, router, and other equipment must use the same encryption. WPA2 is strongest; use it if you have a choice.

Change your router?s hardware identifier and preset password so a hacker can?t use the defaults to try to access your network.

Of course, you should also use anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a firewall. For help configuring your router, visit

  1. Don?t assume that public ?hot spots? are secure.

Cafe, hotel and airport ?hot spots? are convenient, but you must assume that other people can see anything you see or send over a public wireless network.


Data Privacy Day site:

Facebook?s privacy guide:

The Online Trust Alliance?s updated planning guide to help businesses protect data and prepare for potential breaches:

CONTACT: Martha Demeritt (207) 626-8599