5 Fast Steps to Ensure Online Privacy

By Lee Bellinger / December 26, 2013

5 Fast Steps
to Ensure Online Privacy

Internet Privacy

It goes without saying that Internet surveillance is becoming more common and intrusive.

You still have time to better protect your online activity from being harvested by high tech crony capitalists who work closely with government agencies to betray your trust. There are also financial incentives for nosy advertising agencies, ruthless hackers with too much time on their hands, and many, many others to track your habits. They view your data as their goldmine. Recently, tech analyst firm Ovum described the phenomenon known as ‘Big Data;’ information and statistics collected about online users will be the next step for companies and politicians alike in seizing your assets and sabotaging your privacy.

Lots of Powerful Interests
Have a Big Incentive to Peer into Your Private Life

Private hackers and government snoops are collecting your personal information and overlaying advanced algorithms to predict your lifetime wages, how you respond to private medical concerns, and even for whom you are likely to vote in the next election.
This predatory activity raises questions over who exactly is using such records for their personal gain. The days are long gone when only paranoid nut cases worried about being watched online. Unfortunately, online snooping of everyday law-abiding citizens is now par for the course. If you want to get ahead of the curve in surveillance – and frankly, your assets and your privacy are at grave risk if you don’t – follow these easy steps:
1. Ditch Internet Explorer – Try Google Chrome or Firefox
This is not difficult – both web browsers are quite easy to install and use. Internet Explorer is very convenient because it is preinstalled on Windows PCs, but as a browser, it lacks the ability to implement security extensions effectively and has a history of being generally insecure. Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are as simple to use as Internet Explorer but provide much more security, speed, and even allow for using other valuable extensions to enhance the browser. You can download these at www.google.com/chrome and www.mozilla.org/firefox. If you’re using Internet Explorer (IE) version 7 or 8, you definitely need to switch browsers – or at the very least update your Internet Explorer. IE has gotten much better over the years, so you can have a bit more faith in the product if you at least ugrade your IE browser.

2. Install the AdBlock Plus Extension
Adblock Plus not only blocks all sorts of advertising on the web, it protects you from sites infested with malware, and from some third-party tracking ‘cookies.’ Although most websites allow Adblock Plus, you may encounter a site that won’t allow you to visit without viewing their ads. In that case, simply right-click the red stop sign in the browser’s toolbar to disable it. You can get it for your web browser here: www.adblockplus.org.

3. Use these Extensions to Stop Data Collectors and Advertisement Tracking
More about those third-party tracking cookies. They can be located and blocked with a simple extension called Disconnect. A similar extension named Ghostery works just as well, but it hasn’t been updated in awhile. Disconnect also shields you from social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google, which use your browsing activity even while away from their site to collect data about you. Get Disconnect or Ghostery for your web browser: www.disconnect.me and www.ghostery.com/download.

4. Browse the Web Securely with SSL
Any computer between you and the website you’re visiting can see your activity and information being transmitted. Simply using https:// – also known as SSL – instead of the standard http:// will encrypt your information and ensure no one is snooping on your connection. Many online retailers use SSL for transactions but using it for casual browsing can’t hurt and might even prevent your identity from being stolen. There is even an extension to automatically browse securely through SSL: www.eff.org/https-everywhere.

5. Anonymize your IP with the Tor Project
Using Tor to browse the web anonymously can help prevent special types of IP analytics and statistics programs from analyzing your activity. This can work in conjunction with the Disconnect extension because each time you load a web page, your IP, which is your Internet Address, switches to the IP of a different Tor server. Imagine the privacy advantages of your identity changing each time you visit a store. You can download Tor here: www.torproject.org/download/download-easy.html.en. Absolute Internet privacy is a thing of the past, if it ever existed at all. However, these 5 basic precautions can help you and your loved ones achieve a much lower profile than 99% of everyone else.

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