5 tools to protect your privacy online

privacy

Every day it seems we hear more news about our online privacy being compromised and violated.

More than 2 years ago, we already were warned that companies and governments are gathering unprecedented amounts of data about every click, link, and status update you make. Google, for example, builds an online profile on its users, keeping track of our searches and the sites we visit.

Some very useful tips from Simon Black of SovereignMan.com, Feburary 15, 2013:

Online privacy is becoming more important by the day. And nobody is going to give it to you, you have to take steps yourself to secure it.

Below are five different tools and services that will get you started. You can set up most of the tools below in 5 minutes. Each of them will go a long way in securing your privacy online.

1. Tor Browser

Tor is a great weapon in the fight for online anonymity as it allows you to surf the web without giving up your location and other personal data to the websites you visit.

The Tor Browser Bundle is the easiest and most secure way to get started; simply download it, and start surfing the web with the Tor Browser. It’s available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Learn more about and download the Tor Browser Bundle here

2. Duck Duck Go

If you want privacy, don’t search with Google.

Google store all of your searches to customize ads for you, but even worse, they can hand over the whole list of searches to any government agency that are curious about what you’ve been looking at for the last couple years.

A better alternative is Duck Duck Go, a completely anonymous search engine that does not store any information about you or your searches. The search results are essentially identical to Google’s, so there’s no loss of quality.

Search with Duck Duck Go here

3. HTTPS Everywhere

HTTPS Everywhere (S is for security) is a plug-in for Firefox and Google Chrome that tries to force a website to connect in secure mode, thus encrypting your traffic with the website you are visiting. This makes your browsing more secure because it prevents eavesdropping thieves or state-mafia from intercepting your unencrypted Internet traffic.

Download HTTPS Everywhere here

4. Cryptocat

Cryptocat is an encrypted chat that beats Facebook and Skype when it comes to security and privacy. If you want to chat in private then this is one simple solution. It’s also open source, which means you can see the full code and be sure there are no government “backdoors” built in.

Read more about and download Cryptocat here

5. Silent Circle

Silent Circle is a new player on the market, but it is founded by “old” players in the security and encryption industry. One of the founders, Phil Zimmerman, is also the creator of PGP, one of the most-used encryption platforms in the world.

Silent Circle is a suite of products offering:

  • Encrypted email
  • Encrypted video chat
  • Encrypted phone calls
  • Encrypted text messaging

Silent Circle is the only service on this list that is not free. But having the gold standard of encryption may be worth it for you.

Read more about Silent Circle here

I’ve already started using Duck Duck Go as a search engine. Alas, Silent Circle does not yet offer encrypted e-mail service, but the site does say it’s “coming soon”.

~Eowyn

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8 responses to “5 tools to protect your privacy online

  1. Thanks Dr. E,

    The “great eye, lidless, wreathed in flame” searches relentlessly. Perhaps these tools can act for a time as elvish cloaks, to give us advantage.

    Like

  2. http://www.startpage.com is another good search engine. They don’t store any info and use a proxy server.

    Like

  3. Some additional Tips and information for you and your readers, Dr. Eowyn. First the Information:

    Curiously, TOR seems to get a large amount of funding from the state department (see here: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=459224 ) it is also notorious for use by pedophiles and other nasty nasties. The question remains if TOR is just a compromised network that acts as a honeypot for datamining, or a legitimate project. The funding coming from the state dept. is creepy enough that I personally don’t trust it.

    Secondly, There is a new extention called Ghostery (.com), which may be good to utilize. (I do not know who is backing it, however.)

    I don’t know if you know much about the HOSTS file, but if you don’t it might be good to look into it, it is not a firewall, but it can be useful for filtering and redirecting things. (see here: http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm and http://someonewhocares.org/hosts/ personally I prefer the second one, but be warned it may block some social networking items, best to edit your HOSTS file manually, rather than download one, and to also set it’s file properties to “read only” after you’re done. You can edit it with notepad or a similar text editor.)

    Also I would reccomend utilizing virustotal.com to scan files, or suspicious URLs, it will typically scan a given file with 40 or so different anti-virus programs, making it that much easier to know what’s infected and what isn’t. Whats more, Virustotal is free.

    Finally, you and your readers may benefit from a look through Gizmo’s Security List (found here: http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/probably-best-free-security-list-world.htm )and Chiron’s guide (here: http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/how-harden-your-browser-against-malware-and-privacy-concerns.htm ) The only things I’d advise against here, is the jondofox and jondo program, for the fact it is Java (and java has horrible security problems.) and the comodo DNS server in their browser (as an aside when installed it doesn’t *have* to be implemented, the program just bothers you about doing so.) for personal reasons, that is I frankly don’t trust comodo with monkeying with my DNS settings, especially since if that messes up, it can cause some connectivity problems that are difficult to fix.

    Hope these will be of use.

    Like

  4. Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this valuable post!

    Like

  5. Kule stuff. Thanks.

    Like

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