What is a Privacy Test?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A privacy test is a test which is performed to determine the level of privacy offered by a software program, computer system, website, or related system. Privacy tests can be run for a variety of different reasons, ranging from concerns about the security of confidential information to curiosity on the part of browsers who want to know what kind of information is collected about them and how it is used. There are numerous resources which can be used to conduct a privacy test.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

Websites which provide information about privacy rights and the protection of privacy often offer privacy tests to their users as a service. The test can check for cookies stored on a user's computer and take note of identifying information which can be collected, such as a user's IP address. Such tests can also provide information about the privacy of websites the user visits; for example, people who are concerned about email privacy can run a privacy test to see how secure their email clients are.

There is also software available which can run more detailed privacy tests. Such software is sometimes bundled as part of a privacy and security suite although it may also be run as a standalone product. This software can generate reports upon request which provide information about user data which has been collected and which will identify privacy risks which the user may want to address. It can be designed to run into the background to flag privacy risks as they come up in addition to running specific screenings for privacy issues.

Privacy tests can also be run across entire systems, as may be done in facilities where there are concerns about the security of data. In some cases this may involve structuring a custom privacy test fitted to the specific system being tested while in other instances software products may be used. Such tests can identify weak points in the system, including users who may not be following privacy protocols.

When running a privacy test, it is very important to check on the source of the testing. Unscrupulous individuals are aware of privacy concerns and may manipulate them by developing products which claim to be testing privacy while actually harvesting private data. It is advisable to look at software reviews on reputable sites and to look at reviews of privacy advocacy sites before taking advantage of their services to avoid installing spyware and other malicious code while attempting to conduct a privacy test.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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