Have you ever tried to shop for someone special online only to worry that they will sit down at the computer and find your browsing history? Do you have small children who don’t need to see where their christmas presents are coming from? If so I have a short tutorial for you that will allow you to surf the web in privacy. If you need to make certain your browsing history goes unnoticed for any reason follow these steps to a safer nights sleep. Here are the top browsers in use and just follow the directions for yours.
- Chrome – Click on the wrench in the far upper right of your screen, then “New Incognito Window.”
- Firefox – Click on “Tools” then “Start Private Browsing.”
- Internet Explorer –Click on the tools cog in the far upper right of your screen, then “Safety” and “InPrivate Browsing.”
- Safari – Click on the settings cog in the upper right corner of your screen, then “Private Browsing.”
While this wont keep hackers, the government or anyone else from tracking your IP address, these tips can do wonders for the secret shopper who needs to keep gifts a secret. But if your in the market for something more high tech and also anonymous, try one of these platforms.
A Web proxy is a way to hide your IP address from sites you visit, making browsing a safer experience. Unless you try a proxy that has been set by hackers to steal your information. So try and stick with the more well known proxy servers like HideMyAss.com or Anonymouse.org
For a step up in anonymity protection, you can use Tor. Tor is a free open network originally developed to protect government communications. Recommended by the privacy advocacy organization the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Tor browser works with Firefox and lets you turn it on or off depending on when you need anonymity.
Tor works by routing your traffic through a series of servers, operated by volunteers around the world, before sending it to your destination. This makes it very effective at hiding your IP address.
However, it has limitations. First, because of the number of servers your data passes through, Tor can be quite slow. And while data is encrypted between the servers, it is unencrypted when it leaves the last (exit) server and is passed to the website you’re visiting. So anyone operating an exit server can see IDs, passwords and any other data you send unless you have a secure connection with the website you’re visiting (look for the “https” in the URL).
Another option is a VPN. For the most secure connection, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the way to go. It creates an encrypted connection for all traffic (including VoIP and movie streaming) between your PC and the VPN server for privacy, and protects your IP address from being transmitted to the sites you visit for anonymity. VPNs will also protect your information while on public networks in hotels and coffee shops. And unlike free services like Tor, VPNs charge a fee that allows them to provide much higher bandwidth. Witopia and Strong VPN have packages starting at $55 per year
VPNs still share some of the same drawbacks as other services. If your VPN keeps traffic logs, those logs could still be turned over to others based on a court order, showing what sites you visited and when. And the data you send to external sites won’t be encrypted unless you’re using a secure connection (look for the “https” in the URL).
For more information visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation here for a little primer on internet and privacy self defense.
And one more tidbit before I go. Here is a link to find out who has been googling you and your information.
- CyberGhost VPN (glossarist.typepad.com)