The truth is out there ... and so is your data. And just because there are no virtual black helicopters following you doesn't mean somebody somewhere doesn't have a bead on who you are and what you are doing.
From buttinski bosses to spies and spooks, there are plenty of reasons to be, well, a little paranoid about the vulnerability of your data and the potential loss of your privacy. To help you gauge the appropriate level of hysteria, we've rated each threat on our Paranoia Meter, using a scale of 1 (Don't worry, be happy) to 5 (Be afraid, be very afraid). Though we've taken a lighthearted approach, concerns about data privacy are not all fun and games.
"You can look at 'paranoia' as just a good way of having a long horizon," says Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute. "Incentives exist for data practices to be abused very badly in the future. Being paranoid about them today is being rational about protecting yourself tomorrow."
Here are 10 ways to practice your paranoia:
Paranoia No. 1:Your boss is watching
Paranoia No. 2:Google knows what you searched last summer
Paranoia No. 3:There's a spook in your inbox
Paranoia No. 4:Information brokers are bungling your data
Paranoia No. 5:The Feds are on your tail
Paranoia No. 6:Zombies abound
Paranoia No. 7:Hollywood wants to terminate you
Paranoia No. 8:Your ISP knows too much
Paranoia No. 9:Your Wi-Fi net is wide open
Paranoia No. 10:You are your own worst enemy