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Take Back Your Internet Privacy

internet privacyYou’ve read the news and now you know that data-mining has destroyed any chance of casual internet privacy. How can you combat this and Take Back Your Internet Privacy?

Take Back Your Internet Privacy

The best bet is to shutdown our social media accounts, toss our cell phones in an active volcano, stop using the internet for anything, set up a fake identity and disappear off the grid to live as a hermit in a cave in some forgotten corner of the world. If that is too extreme, there are many things we can do to negate our exposure using tools to help us avoid this monitoring.

Stop Using DNS Servers that Log and Track

Sure the google DNS servers are easy to remember in a pinch (8.8.8.8, 8.8.4.4, etc), but they log everything and tie it to your google account or IP address. Switch to a service that does NOT track you, like OpenNic.

Block Internet Trackers

Use Browser extensions to block tracking cookies and websites that track your web browsing.

Recommended Browser Extensions:

Privacy Badger –  An extension (add on) for Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, Internet Explorer and Safari web browsers, that blocks trackers. Download it from within your browser or here.

Disconnect – Advertisers and other third parties track, clutter, and slow down your web browsing. Disconnect makes the web your business not theirs.

Https Everywhere – HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox and Chrome extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure.

I highly recommended that you use use browser privacy extensions, like Ghostery or Disconnect. Facebook, Google, Twitter, Digg and Yahoo are the big players in the data mining and tracking game. This is how they make their money.

Search Engines

Stop using Google, or at least make sure to log out of Google services before doing any web searches. Google is a one stop shop for many internet goodies: Searches, Voice, Chat, maps, GPS Navigation, books etc, but everything you do is tracked and logged to your accounts. I use Google Chrome for Gmail and Facebook, then I use Firefox (never logged into google, Facebook, or any other site) for searching and maps, etc.

You can make sure that you are logged out of Google by using this link: https://mail.google.com/mail/?logout&hl=en. Save this url as a bookmark or set it as your browser’s start page, to ensure that you didn’t log into Google accidentally.

When I do search what do I use?

I’m a security engineer (aka computer nerd), so I am constantly reviewing the options. If something new comes up or changes, I’m going to update this page. Check back as needed!

StartPage

Startpage.com doesn’t log your IP address or your search history. They are hosted outside the USA and therefore are out of reach of the Big Brother programs of the US Government (So Far…). Here is the link to their Privacy Policy.

StartPage also has links on their main page to add their search engine to your browser and to make their site your browser’s home page or start page.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is all about Privacy and not logging your searches. Read more about their privacy policy: https://duckduckgo.com/privacy.html. You can’t go wrong with StartPage and DuckDuckGo, check them out, use them!

Email

Google’s GMail is not private. All your GMail, your Google searches, Google Voice, Google Navigator and any other Google service is used for data mining and is archived and shared for other nefarious uses.

Go get a Private Offshore (non-USA) email account.

Private and Offshore email services:

I only have real world experience with the first 2 services (StartMail and ProtonMail), but the other’s in this list had been considered by me previously, but not tested.

Here’s a really good article on the subject of private email, from NetworkWorld.com – “Hunting for an email service with extreme wishlist for privacy and security?

Need more privacy? Use Encryption!

How to Encrypt Your Emails

 

VPN Services

A virtual private network (VPN) is a encrypted tunnel across a public telecommunication infrastructure, such as the Internet, to provide individuals with secure access to resources.

EarthVPN does NOT keep logs of user connections or activity. This means you can browse the web across an encrypted tunnel and browse in relative privacy.

TOR and TAILS

Tor

Use Tor when you browse the Internet (or any sites you want to remain private)

What is Tor? Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security known as traffic analysis

Tails

You can take it a step further, by using a Tails bootable live CD (OS on a CD or DVD ROM). Boot your computer off the TAILS disc and take advantage of TOR and some good browser security tools! Even if a site tries to infect your with malware or track you, when you reboot, all that junk is gone!

No matter what you do to remain private and avoid digital monitoring, you can never be 100% sure. The only way to avoid it is to go old school and stay clear of the internet, social media, and digital communications. Turn off location on your cell phone, or better yet, get a burner and leave your everyday phone at home, and use a stand alone GPS for your navigation needs!

Maybe using a typewriter, handwritten notes, and face to face meetings are the safest, but with drones and cell phones, that can be activated remotely to bug a room or eavesdrop on a conversation, if you want to take back your internet privacy, you have your work cut out for you!

 

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