For those living in reality, it has been known that since the 90′s under President Clinton, programs such as Echelon monitored nearly every phone call, fax, and email in the United States.
Sites like Facebook have been known to record users web history even when they are logged out. Google has had to pay out millions for its privacy violations such as disabling privacy settings on Internet browsers to allow them to track you. Google Street View cars used to take pictures for Google Earth were caught stealing passwords and information from home computers it drove past. The list of privacy violations by U.S. intelligence groups and their corporate front groups are too many to list.
Good Internet security is not about “having something to hide.” It is simply about protecting your personal information from groups who wish to use it for reasons you may not want. What good are passwords if your information is not truly private? Here are 5 easy steps everyone can take to increase their privacy.
1. CHANGE YOUR SEARCH ENGINE!
Use Startpage! Startpage removes all identifying information from your query and submits it anonymously to Google so you get Google search results without having your information mined. Your IP address is never recorded, your visit is not logged, and no tracking cookies are placed on your browser.
2. DELETE FLASH COOKIES REGULARLY.
Most people are familiar with cookies, small pieces of data sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser while a user is browsing a website. Many are unaware that Flash also leaves cookies on your computer. Bookmark http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/sett… to view and delete Flash cookies regularly.
3. USE A NEW BROWSER.
Two preferable browsers for everyday use would be Mozilla Firefox and Opera. Add-ons or Extensions can be added to these browsers to increase privacy such as Ghostery, to block web bugs, pixels and beacons that are included on web pages, and Facebook Blocker, which blocks Facebook from viewing your browsing history.
4. USE CRYPTOCAT TO CHAT!
PeerBlock lets you control who your computer “talks to” on the Internet. By selecting appropriate lists of “known bad” computers, you can block communication with advertising or spyware oriented servers, computers monitoring your p2p activities, computers which have been “hacked”, even entire countries! Edit the settings to allow your favorite sites and block others!
No one can be totally private on the Internet but with these beginner steps, you can start to stop your information from being sold to the highest bidder.
For more advanced and secure systems make sure to check out The Tor Project. The Tor Browser is one of the best tools used by everyone from media to law enforcement to massively increase privacy when browsing the Internet.