Can You Be Anonymous Online?

How to be anonymous online

 

When we talk about being anonymous online, we’re not thinking about it in a creepy stalker kind of way. Instead, we’re thinking about how companies, hackers and the government are keeping an eye on us.

Have you noticed that you can’t browse the internet these days without adverts for the products you’ve been looking at popping up on your social media feeds?

The truth is that internet privacy is very poor. However, there are a few things you can do to enhance your privacy.

This list was created by BullGuard. You don’t have to follow all of them, but by adopting one or two you could enjoy a little more anonymity online.

 

  • Anonymising operating systems

Most of us use standard operating systems such a Windows or MacOS. However, there are other operating systems we can use that anonymise users. For instance Tails is a live operating system that you can start on almost any computer from a USB stick or a DVD. Tails preserves your privacy and anonymity; all connections to the Internet go through Tor network nodes which ensure users are anonymous. There are operating systems which provide anonymity such as Ironkey Workspace, ZeusGuard and Qubes OS.

  • The value of VPNs

A virtual private network (VPN) anonymises your web surfing and keeps your communications private. They are specifically built to make your internet connection more difficult to identify and track as well as encrypting your communications.

  • Tor browser

Tor is often thought of as a browser which it is, but is also much more. It’s a system consisting of tools, browsers, application programming interfaces and a network all dedicated to helping you stay anonymous online. When you use the Tor browser you enter a Tor network path and the traffic to and from your destination is routed through a random set of Tor network nodes. Tor is one of the best ways to stay anonymous when combined with other privacy tools.

  • Privacy Badger

Privacy Badger is a browser plug-in offered by the Electronic Freedom Foundation. Available for Chrome and Firefox, it stops advertisers and third-party trackers from tracking your web browsing, including what pages you visit. It watches third-party domains that place images, scripts and advertising in web pages you visit and stop them from tracking you.

  • Free applications can track you

Free applications come with a price. If an application is free and it isn’t designed to protect your privacy and its popular then it’s very likely that it contacts servers and send back information about how you are using the product.

  • Privacy testing

If you have a few privacy features in place the Electronic Freedom Foundation provides a service to assess how well they are working. Simply click through to this page and click the Test Me button.

  • ‘Private’ search engines

Popular search engines like Google and Bing keep track of your searches so they can target ads at you. The DuckDuckGo browser is designed to protect your privacy so your searches aren’t tracked.

  • Sharing files anonymously

Dropbox is very popular file sharing service. But as Edward Snowden said it is “hostile to privacy.” A free alternative that enables anonymity is OnionShare. It’s available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Ubuntu.

  • Delete cookies and browsing history

It’s a good idea to regularly clean out cookies that websites use to track you and your browsing history. These can be used to identify where you’ve been. CCleaner is a useful free tool that enables you to do this quickly. There are others too.

Privacy is a basic right we all have. Hopefully, these suggestions will help you gain control of your online life.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages

Source: BullGuard

How Does The Snoopers’ Charter Affect You?

Snoopers' charter

 

The Snoopers’ Charter – what do you know about it?

Well, its other name is The Investigatory Powers Act 2016. It means that 48 different organisations (including the Ministry of Defence and the Food Standards Agency) can now legally view your internet history, among other things.

Before you start to panic, it doesn’t mean that you are always being monitored. But it does mean that web and phone companies are now legally obliged to store records of the websites you visit and keep them for 12 months, and must hand the information over to any of the 48 organisations that request it.

And before you think that deleting your internet history will our fox them, think again. That only destroys your copy if the data.

Having said that there are some things you can do to preserve your online privacy:

VPN

The use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is one of the most practical ways you can hide your location online. It acts like a ‘middle man”, requesting the websites you want and sending it back to you. Any websites you visit would then be attributed to the VPN itself, rather than your computer.

Block web trackers

Even with a VPN, your data could still be collected. Even data that does identify you personally is valuable, particularly to advertisers. To stop this going through, you can get a web browser extension such as Ghostery. This will show you all the trackers running on each website, and you can select which ones you want to block.

Use encrypted chat

If you’re worried about your chat logs being accessed, we’d recommend you use WhatsApp or iMessage because they encrypt your conversations at both ends, so the conversation stays between the people that are involved.

There is one drawback though because part of the Snoopers’ Charter allows the 48 organisations to hack into your devices legally. There’s not much you can do to prevent investigators getting from doing this and downloading your data regardless of which encrypted messenger app you were using.

Don’t panic

Even thought this sounds scary, don’t panic about it. If investigators want access to your computer or device, there’s very little you could do to prevent it even before the Snoopers’ Charter passed. We learned through Edward Snowden that this information was being collected illegally, it is the fact that it has become legal which has privacy advocates concerned.

In all honesty, as a personal user, you’re more likely to have trouble from cyber criminals than the Government hacking into your devices.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Source: Transcendit

Google Must Block Privacy Infringements, Say MPs

There has been a lot in the news recently about privacy infringements, and privacy rights. Nowhere, it seems, is this more important than on the internet. Its popularity has made it an instant sounding board for anyone wishing to put their opinion ‘out there’ for all to see.

But this brings problems, as outlined in a recent article by Stewart Mitchell in PC Pro.

According to Mitchell, a cross-party committee of MPs has called on Google and other web companies to block web content that breaches privacy injunctions. The committee was set up to ‘investigate whether new statutes were needed in the light of recently broken privacy injunctions and to discuss controls on the media.’ However, it concluded that better policing of existing media laws (and applying them to the internet) should prevent future breaches.

“The Committee says that major internet corporations [such as Google and other search engines] should take active steps to limit the potential for breaches of court orders through use of their products and, if they fail to do so, legislation should be introduced to force them to,” the committee found in a report.

“In addition, the Attorney General should be more willing to bring actions for civil contempt of court in respect of injunctions being breached online.”

In its defence, Google argued that it was difficult to take information down, but this was rejected by the committee:

“Google acknowledged that it was possible to develop the technology proactively to monitor websites for such material in order that the material does not appear in the results of searches,” the committee argued.

“We find their objections in principle to developing such technology totally unconvincing. Google and other search engines should take steps to ensure that their websites are not used as vehicles to breach the law and should actively develop and use such technology. We recommend that if legislation is necessary to require them to do so it should be introduced.”

The committee has also called for these regulations to be extended to social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and, in time, major bloggers.

The report recommends that, when granting an injunction, the courts should direct the claimant to also serve notice on internet social media content platforms.

You can read the full article here.

 

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.