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.”