With all the news from the NSA in recent months, and all the reports of that agency spying on pretty much everyone, friend and foe alike, concern for privacy has become more pronounced than ever. It’s always been important, of course, it’s just that these days, there’s a very real, tangible reason to take it seriously because they really are spying on you.
If you’d rather they didn’t, and want to take steps to make it difficult, if not outright impossible to do so, then you’re in luck, because there are a number of simple,straightforward things you can do to make sure you keep you and your online activities anonymous.
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing online, privacy is your right, not just an abstract idea, and the desire for it has nothing to do with what you may, or may not be doing on the web. Here’s how you can reclaim yours:
It starts with a good firewall. Most computers come with some basic firewall software already included as part of the Operating System. That’s a good first step, but there are better options available. One especially good free one is Zone Alarm. Highly recommended, but of course, if you’d rather have something even more robust than that, there are paid options available that will server you even better. Mostly it comes down to how important you regard the issue of privacy.
Proxy servers reroute your web traffic to another location before heading to its final destination, essentially making you appear to be somewhere you’re not, and thus, making it harder to track you. Proxies come in two flavors, the basic proxy, and the virtual private network. You can find free services of both varieties, with the primary difference between the two being that the VPN encrypts your traffic, while the basic proxy does not. This makes the basic proxy ideal for basic web surfing, while the VPN is more useful for activities of a more sensitive nature. In either case, if you’ve ever bemoaned the fact that you couldn’t access your Netflix or Amazon Prime account while traveling, this is a simple way around that.
Consider TOR to be a VPN on steroids. Rather than simply one redirect, TOR redirects your traffic through a series of relays, making you virtually impossible to track. Note that TOR made the news recently because the NSA took note of them, and has begun flagging anyone who performs web searches for TOR for greater scrutiny. You don’t have to do an internet search though. To get there, you can just click this link: https://www.torproject.org/
The letter S at the end of HTTPS stands for secure socket layer. That’s the encryption protocol used by eCommerce sites around the globe to secure financial transactions. Did you know that you could get secure socket layer protection every time you surf, and on every site you go to? You can if you download the browser extension, “HTTPS Everywhere.” Do a search on it and add it today for immediate protection.
Change Your Search Habits
This is probably the biggest, hardest change to make, because everyone is so accustomed to reaching for Google when they want to search for something. The problem, of course, is that Google retains records of your search information. You can get around that by using a search engine that does not maintain such records. Try DuckDuckGo, for example.
Privacy is a right, but it’s not automatic, and it is not guaranteed. You actually have to take steps to guard yours. The ideas above will put you firmly on that path.