Do you think you browse anonymously? Think again! Nothing is 100% anonymous or secure these days, but sometimes we want or need a little added protection when we are surfing the web.
Criminals and other shady organizations are getting rather creative when it comes to getting and using private information often relayed over digital networks. This is a crime! Unless you are talking about the NSA, most law enforcement agencies wouldn’t even know where to start if you called them up and told them you were hacked. You need to protect yourself.
There are really only a few options when it comes to your internet activity. You can secure your computer with various programs; you can become a ghost and go anonymous or employ a variation of the previous two. Let’s examine these options for a moment.
To Secure it:
- Securing your computer usually involves installing software. This might include things like 1) Installing a Firewall, 2) Installing Antivirus Software, 3) Installing Anti-Spyware Software, 4) Using Complex and Secure Passwords, and 5) Revising the Security Settings of the browser you use.
To “Anonymize” it:
- There are only a few ways to go anonymous, really. You can 1) use a proxy server, 2) you can set up a VPN (which can also be vulnerable), or 3) you can use a Tor browser.
Today, we’ll talk about Tor since it is the cheapest and arguably easiest way to get some protection right away. What is Tor? Tor is software that enables anonymous communication. The name comes from the original software project “The Onion Router,”; a project originally designed by and for defense/intelligence groups at the Navy.
When you anonymously surf the web, your goal is to circumvent the technologies that track your online activity. This will aid in keeping your personal information (such as location, your name, what sites you are viewing, etc.) private. Essentially, who you are and what you are looking at remains hidden.
Let’s talk about the cost. The software can get awfully pricey these days. That is why Tor is such a bargain. It’s free. But when you consider what you might save in regard to stopping a problem before it starts, that’s where the real value is. When you are surfing and your internet connection is open, it creates new vulnerabilities, and this is where browsing anonymously might come in handy.
You might be thinking that you have nothing to hide and only criminals would use such technology. Sure, Tor has been used by groups like “anonymous” and different government agencies. But just because cartels carry weapons doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protect ourselves by having the same powerful tools all the same. The same tools used to spy on you illegally are often the same tools that you can use to stop it from happening in the first place.
So consider how keeping prying eyes from viewing your activity might come in handy. Reasons might include police officers looking to hide their IP address, journalists keeping their sources secret, anonymously reporting abuse or corruption, maybe you want to hide an embarrassing medical condition from advertisers, sharing personal secrets with someone, publishing anonymous posts, or maybe you want to reduce the opportunity to for online stalking. The list is endless when you really think about it.
And that’s exactly what I suggest you do: think about it. Let’s say that you don’t exactly have your computer secured. And let’s say you’re browsing the internet without protection. Let’s also say that a criminal is spying on you (which is a crime – but that’s what criminals do). Since you didn’t secure your computer, it really wouldn’t take much to see which websites you visit, see which ones you spend money on, review some of your chats, and so on. So I could get your financial information, habits, location, where you go to lunch on Tuesdays, what drink you prefer on Fridays, and so on.
If you’re an attractive single lady, I might have to meet you at your favorite place with a drink in hand and talk about all these things we have in common. Don’t worry, I’ll walk you home. I already know where you live.
If you’re a man, I’ll strike up a conversation about all these cool guns I’ve had my eyes on. Wait!! You’ve been looking at them too?!? That’s crazy! So you’re a gun owner, Right? Good thing I already know where you live and when you’re at work.
As a Security guru, I will tell you that I believe everyone should have at least a little security and anonymity. Most would be amazed at how easy it can be to get information from digital footprints. I think it’s safe to say that not everyone has “hacker-level” computer skills, but any method you employ provides just one added layer of protection. Again, nothing is 100%, but every little bit is something more than nothing.
You can learn more about Tor and download it by clicking here.
If you enjoy this, you might also like my article talking about how to “Secure Your Cell Phone.”