Sunday, August 25, 2013

Private Internet Usage… Possible?

Private browsing
Internet Privacy

The term private Internet browsing encompasses a wide array of precautions that Web surfers can take to ensure that their activity on the Web cannot be traced. Motives for private Internet browsing are plenty, with both privacy and safety at the forefront of many Internet users' minds. Whatever the inspiration for browsing anonymously may be, the bottom line is that many people want to avoid leaving tracks behind. Is it even possible to keep all your web usage private? Most, if not all, of us would say no. With immediate access to social networking sites and email, it's easier than ever to dig up dirt on you on the web. While you might not be able to keep all your online activities private, there are a few ways to keep some of your personal information safe.

Useful Advice 
Search engines like Google and Bing track log and track your usage data and search histories. If you can break old habits of looking up quick facts and questions on these sites, experts recommend users to switch to sites like DuckDuckGo and Blekko. You can set privacy settings to disable the sites from tracking your data and DuckDuckGo in particular promises to not track or sell users' data. A few other good alternative no-risk search sites include ixquick.com or startpage.com.

Websites can take advantage of the cookie feature in popular browsers such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari to track what you're searching online even if you enable "private browsing" or "incognito mode." You might want to consider using Firefox 21, which provides only limited data to vendors, or Opera, which claims that it doesn't share or collect personal information. Surfing the web using HTTPS, an encrypted form of HTTP, is also a good idea. Using this should prevent communications from being intercepted. Unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots can pose serious security threats. There are several tips to stay safe in these locations. For example, when you connect to a new network, you should define it as a public network to Windows. Use a third-party VPN product that will create a virtual private network between your machine and their network. This virtual tunnel protects you against anyone who might try to intercept your Web session.

Be Real
Wiping out your Gmail account would not happen; there are other less headache-inducing options to secure your data as opposed to setting up an account with a different service. If your email system supports it, enable encryption for your messages as they're saved and sent. In general, think twice about what you send over email; do you really need to share your credit card number? You should also consider setting up two-factor authentication for your email.

Let's face it: you're not going to cut yourself off completely. It's unrealistic to expect users to stop using Internet service providers like Microsoft and Apple altogether, or to disconnect from Facebook or Twitter. You're also probably not going to ditch popular services from Skype to YouTube just to make sure that your web usage isn't being monitored. Even if you do switch to lesser-known alternatives, you'll have to convince family and friends to switch over with you. But if you want to make the change, there are alternatives like Pidgin.im and Vimeo in place of Gchat and YouTube.

For the many of us who find this too troublesome, it's important to be aware of what you put in your search engines or share across video services. Consider setting up a two-factor authentication for your Facebook account and don't share sensitive information, like personal phone numbers, over sites such as Twitter. Scrapping your smartphone will be a start, but nobody's going to do that. However, it's true that mobile apps and services do gather a fair amount of personal information on you. Out of 65,000 apps analyzed in a 2012 study, 18.6 percent can access a user's address book, 41.4 percent track location, and 42.5 percent don't encrypt data. While this is poses obvious risks for users, it's not necessary to stop using your smartphone. There are plenty of mobile security apps that support web protection. Even if you know your internet usage isn't completely private, you should take steps to secure sensitive information to help protect yourself against attacks.

1 comment:

  1. This has made me re-think some stuff. If you don’t want to get your information stolen easily while on free Wi-Fi then you need a VPN. Go here to see the best ones compared to each other http://thebestproxyserver.com/

    ReplyDelete