I want to alert you to a nasty new bill that is custom-made for being quietly “slipped” into law in the middle of the night. It’s more proof that you can’t let your guard down when it comes to protecting your privacy, anonymity, confidentiality, and desire “to be left alone.”
Fortunately, you can be vigilant and defend yourself and your family from attacks on your Internet privacy. And later in this email, I will give you three fantastic strategies that, when used individually or together, provide significant Internet security.
The National Sheriffs’ Association says it “strongly supports” and endorses a proposed federal law that requires Internet service providers to store the logs of their customers’ online habits for one-and-a-half years. They say this will make their job easier – just in case you commit some kind of unknown and unpredictable crime in the future.
Sounds like unlawful searches without “probable cause” to me. Fourth Amendment anyone?
Similar legislation has been slowly percolating through Washington since 2005 and recently made another appearance on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Let’s hope the embattled Republican majority says no. Overbearing government goons aren’t the only ones to fear here – you must also be cautious about mentally unstable people with computer skills.
Check out this little horror story: In 2008, the Kostolnik family moved into a new neighborhood. While moving in, their 4-year old wandered next door to Mr. Barry Ardolf’s home. Ardolf brought the child back to his parents, and then kissed him on the lips. The Kostolnik’s were unsurprisingly concerned about the inappropriate kiss and filed a police report against Mr. Ardolf. He was not happy the police paid him a visit.
Over the last couple of years, Ardolf hacked into the Kostolnik’s WEP encryption-protected Wi-Fi, and set up fake email addresses and a Myspace account under Mr. Kostolnik’s name. And then, he posted child porn onto the Myspace account and also emailed the pictures to the employees at Kostolnik’s office. But there’s more…
Ardolf sent death threats to Vice President Joe Biden and other politicians from Kostolnik’s email account. This time, the secret service, not the police, made a visit… to Mr. Kostolnik. Luckily for Mr. Kostolnik, the authorities found evidence that proved Mr. Ardolf was the guilty one and gave him 18 years in prison. But there’s still even more… during the investigations, authorities also found evidence that Ardolf had committed a similar crime against another family – simply because they parked their cars in front of his house!
Vigilance and Concern over
Your Privacy is ABSOLUTELY Justified!
First, lock your home and business Wi-Fi with a strong and “padded” (long length) password. Use the WEP encryption feature. Ardolf definitely had it out for the Kostolniks; hopefully you never have an enemy like that. And DO NOT use “password” or “123456” as your password. Likewise, don’t use your phone number, home address, family name, or anything easily guessable. We’ve issued an informative Executive Bulletin on password privacy which you can find here.
For other potential security weaknesses: Consider using the free, open-source Firefox web browser from Mozilla.com. Then, include the optional “HTTPS Everywhere” add-on and “HTTPS Finder.” These add-ons, also free, automatically encrypt web communication with the websites you visit if it’s available as an option. HTTPS Everywhere was co-created by The Tor Project and Electronic Frontier Foundation. Here’s how you do it:
Sadly, many websites don’t offer web encryption (HTTPS), and those that do don’t set it as the default. This means, without “HTTPS Everywhere” and “HTTPS Finder” working together, you have to manually test and set the encryption feature on each website you visit. It’s simple to do. Just type an “S” after the “HTTP”, changing it to “HTTPS” in the browser url. But it is a tedious, extra step for each website you land on. With a HTTPS Everywhere and HTTPS Finder combo, it gets done for you – without any thought on your part.
This May Not Be Enough to Protect
You from “Guilty-Until-Proven-Innocent” Invaders
An encrypted HTTPS connection obscures and protects the data sent between your computer and the website you’re on. Someone snooping on you may not be able to see what you’re doing on that site. Perhaps you’re entering your password and account information on your broker or credit union’s website. Maybe you’re filling out an insurance form. The encryption hides and protects the data flow. But it doesn’t necessarily hide your IP address. So, it doesn’t give you anonymity. For that, you’ll need one of the following two tools:
1) Proxy Server: According to anonymous-proxies.net: “A proxy server is a computer that offers a computer network service to allow clients to make indirect network connections to other network services. A client connects to the proxy server, then requests a connection, file, or other resource available on a different server. The proxy provides the resource either by connecting to the specified server or by serving it from a cache.”
In other words, you’re essentially surfing the Internet through the proxy server’s computer.
Therefore, the proxy server’s IP address is exposed, not yours. This gives you anonymity, potentially even from your ISP. But, it might not encrypt your data. Snoopers, crooks, and eavesdroppers (especially at public Wi-Fi’s like a cafe, airport, or hotel) may be able to capture what you’re doing.
Plus, unscrupulous or disgruntled employees at the proxy server’s company may be able to log, record, and view what you do online. In fact, there’s one data breach called a “Man in the Middle” attack that works like that. It compromises your information en-route.
2) VPN – Virtual Private Network: A VPN uses a different kind of technology and security system, which offers both privacy and anonymity – even from your ISP. Originally, VPNs were created to allow corporate employees, who were traveling on the road or stationed in satellite offices, to use the Internet to securely connect to the corporate information system. The technology, simply speaking, creates an encrypted “tunnel” over the public Internet and securely connects the user’s computer to the corporate server. When you use a commercial VPN as a retail subscriber, you use a similar encrypted tunnel to securely connect to your VPN provider’s computer servers. This gives you privacy and security.
Next, you use the VPN’s servers to surf the web. This is essentially the same function you get with a proxy server; the VPN’s server IP address is exposed, not yours. This gives you anonymity, along with privacy and security. The encrypted tunnel is an important feature because VPNs are known to provide robust protection against “Man in the Middle” attacks and even disgruntled employees, since the encryption makes the data a useless, garbled mess to anyone without the key to decode it.
If you travel to areas of the world where the government limits the Internet, both proxy servers and VPNs can be used to by-pass those restrictions, although not always trouble-free. A VPN provider that seems to put consumers first and stands on the correct side of privacy, security, and confidentiality is perfect-privacy.com:
“Perfect Privacy provides you with… encrypted access to a variety of anonymization servers on different continents. Every one of these servers encrypts all of the Internet communications you desire… and removes your private information that normally links everything you send or receive to your personal identity…
Our servers are used by many people… from businesses who need to protect confidential company information, to individuals who think that adults need no supervision and that it is not the business of Internet service providers, email services, web servers, and authorities to store and observe each and every one of their movements on the Internet…
Perfect Privacy is a 100% initiative of private and sovereign individuals from different parts of the globe, dedicated to clear a way out of the ever-increasing infringement of privacy on the Internet.”
Take advantage of these privacy and anonymity services. Many are free, and even Proxy Server and VPN services are less than $200 a year. That’s pretty affordable insurance against mentally deranged neighbors and authoritarian government lackeys who hell bent on striping you of your natural rights as a responsible and self-reliant individual!