Safe(r) Surfing

I don’t do a whole lot online that really warrants anonymity, but I still don’t care for the idea of being watched.  Further, I’m no fan of the growing trend of linking logins, such as the ubiquity of Facebook, or of browser tracking.  Just because I’m not doing anything wrong doesn’t mean I don’t want privacy.  Regardless of the existence of darknets and freenet I don’t think there’s a way to really hide online if the right (or wrong) people really want to find you – but there are definitely ways to make it more difficult.

  1. Use Firefox (or, conversely, Chrome) and not IE.
  2. Install the Adblock Plus addon for Firefox.
  3. Install the NoScript addon for Firefox.  This one’s a pain in the ass to initially configure, but soon you’ll get used to it and find approving (and not approving) sites will become second nature.  NoScript not only covers your tracks, it prevents other nasties like malicious code execution and cross-site scripting.  You’ll be amazed to see just how many connections you’re actually making when you hit a single site.
  4. Install and use HotSpot Shield, a free IPSec VPN solution that masks your originating IP address and encrypts your traffic.  Bonus:  although HSS is ad-revenue based, you’ll never see a single banner pushed from it if you have the aforementioned Adblock Plus installed.  Good times.

There are other paid options for online anonymity as well as TOR – which is almost unbearably slow in its default configuration, not to mentioned riddled with its own dark corners and dangers – but the above represents the easiest free as in beer way to cover some of your tracks online.

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