How Do I Remove Myself from the Search Engines?

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It was unwise of me to put in my name in some guestbooks. I’d like to remove my information from the search results of the major search engines: Google, Yahoo, and so forth. I tried in vain to contact the webmasters of those sites. I’m becoming fussier about that and it’s getting more awkward as far as my profession is concerned. Would you please assist me in dealing with this problem?

Search engines are amazing. They’ve collected and indexed billions and billions of pages of information out on the internet, making them available for any of us to find, review, and use.

Getting into search engines is not terribly difficult. Getting out? The news is not good.

In fact, in my opinion, it’s a lost cause.

Read moreHow Do I Remove Myself from the Search Engines?

Does Getting Porn Spam Mean You’ve Been Surfing Porn Sites?

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Why does my sister’s email get hit with xxx-rated “chat ads”? Mine doesn’t ever… would you have had to visit a site of that type or signed up etc. to be getting those kind of ads?

No.

To the relief of those whose partners have wondered, asked, or accused along those same lines, the answer is an unequivocal no. Getting porn spam does not mean you’ve been visiting porn. Period.

The opposite is also true: not getting porn spam doesn’t imply you haven’t been surfing porn.

Getting porn spam and visiting porn sites are generally unrelated to one another. I’ll explain why that is.

Read moreDoes Getting Porn Spam Mean You’ve Been Surfing Porn Sites?

Internet Safety: 7 Steps to Keeping Your Computer Safe on the Internet

The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet – FREE EditionSubscribe to The Ask Leo! Newsletter and get the 88-page Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet – FREE Edition digital download as a gift. Based in part on this article, the Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet – FREE Edition will help you identify the most important steps you can take to keep your computer and yourself safe as you navigate today’s digital landscape.

Viruses and spyware and worms … oh my!

The very concept of “internet safety” is almost an oxymoron these days.

It seems not a day goes by that we don’t hear some new kind of threat aimed at wreaking havoc across machines connected to the internet.

Here are some things you can (and should) do to stay safe.

Read moreInternet Safety: 7 Steps to Keeping Your Computer Safe on the Internet

What makes a site secure?

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Once, I read that secure websites should begin with https. Well, yours just starts with http. I figure it’s safe but apparently missed the distinction between safe and unsafe computer addresses.

“Secure” has a very specific meaning when it comes to the internet. It’s about technology. And you are correct, askleo.com is not a secure website. It is, however, a safe website.

Let’s review what all that means.

Read moreWhat makes a site secure?

Will Preventing XP from Reaching the Internet Keep Me Safe?

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We have an XP computer that we use for file backup. It needs to connect to our internal network but has absolutely no need to connect to the internet. Is there a way, for security reasons, to have no connection to the internet but still stay connected to our local network because our existing backup system works so well, we would prefer to not to have to update this computer at this time.

Yours is a variation on a very common idea that’s been cropping up lately.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems with it.

Read moreWill Preventing XP from Reaching the Internet Keep Me Safe?

Is requiring a Facebook or Google Account fair?

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Hi, Leo. I find many websites offer great free things to try but when I attempt to download the software, I’m told I can only download it if I have a Facebook account. Occasionally, I’m also restricted to downloading only if I have a Google account. In my mind, free should mean free, not free only if I use Facebook/Google. Since I refuse to use Facebook or Google, this doesn’t seem quite fair to me. I’m sure there must be others that feel this way too. I sense that this a money issue and that Facebook and Google are paying these websites to restrict their free usage only to customers that agree to Facebook’s and Google’s rules. Is this becoming more common and do you think it’s a fair practice?

First, I think it’s pretty clear that websites can do whatever the heck they want to, within legal limits. That’s how a free market works. If you don’t like the requirements that are placed on getting something, then don’t get that something. If enough people agree with you, then that site will not get whatever it was they were hoping to get by giving away whatever it was they were giving away.

Is it fair? Gosh, that’s an unanswerable question; I really don’t know.

Life isn’t fair, and particularly when it comes to the internet, I guess I just don’t look for fair. If it’s really a no-strings-attached kind of giveaway, fantastic. But if it isn’t, I make a decision and I get on with my life. Like I said, that puts you in control.

Read moreIs requiring a Facebook or Google Account fair?

Will my internet activities of years ago come back to haunt me?

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Leo, I’m not going to beat around the bush with some made up story regarding the privacy of a friend or I did this when I was drunk or something like that. To get straight to the point, when I was first introduced to the internet, I was very naïve, believing what I searched for in Google and posted in forums was private. This is not the case.

At the time, I made some embarrassing searches and visited some sites that I certainly would not admit to today. Although none of this activity is what I deem as illegal, it’s only now that I’m happily married with children that I’ve realized that I would not wish for this information to come to light. If a person was not using a proxy or any sort of privacy settings on their browser and not regularly deleting cookies and they used the internet to visit sites and make Google searches that they believed they were never going to come to light, but they’ve also used that same computer to log in to social media and Amazon accounts, could one day all of  that activity be linked to them as a person? As I said, things that I did as a teenager many years ago are things that I would not want my wife and children to find out about now. I assume that everything I did sat on some server somewhere, but how easy would it be for someone to name and shame me?

There’s really no way to know with any certainty the absolute answer to your question.

That being said, I do have some thoughts.

Read moreWill my internet activities of years ago come back to haunt me?

I’m being abused by email. What do I do?

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I gave my email to someone and now, I’m being abused both verbally and emotionally. From my email address, they were able to get my domain sites and that gave them my phone number and my address from Whois. I have since made the domain sites private, but the cache on Google has a snapshot of that page. Even though Whois has removed my information, what’s cached is still live and streaming daily. I was stupid to give my email address although I thought it would be safer than giving my phone number. This man has several porn sites and is now stalking me. The police have said that there’s nothing that they can do unless the man physically puts his hands on me. Thanks, Leo, for any help you can give me.

Over the last 10 years, I’ve received questions like yours fairly regularly. Unfortunately, there’s very little that I can do.

Let me begin by talking about information sharing and the potential for abuse.

Read moreI’m being abused by email. What do I do?

Why You Should Never Blindly Trust an Online Recommendation (Even Mine)

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From: Billy Bob Macrium

Mr. Leo, your check is in the mail 🙂

I recently got that as a comment to my article How do I restore a backup to a smaller hard drive?. Presumably, the commenter believes that my reasons for recommending Macrium Reflect are somehow financially motivated and is trying to make some kind of snide remark to make his point.

(For the record, there are two completely separate reasons why the implication is wrong – more on that in a moment.)

I’ll admit that it irritated me. No one likes having their ethics questioned.

Read moreWhy You Should Never Blindly Trust an Online Recommendation (Even Mine)