Guide To Anonymity And Security On The Web
Note this guide is primarily for computers running Windows
and GNU/Linux - sorry MAC users, but some of the info is still
relevant for you. If you use a MAC and can recommend free protection
software and other precautions for OsX, please email us.
As more and more of peoples' activity happens online, including
communicating, buying goods and travel tickets and banking, it's
become more critical that people be careful how exposed themselves
on the web.
Browsing The Web
Be aware that when you browse the internet, it's fairly easy
for the police or other authorities to get access to your logs
from your web provider, which can be used to track your activities
and communications. For all operating systems (Windows, MAC and
GNU/Linux) the recommended web browser to use - as opposed to
MS Internet Explorer - is Mozilla
Firefox, which has higher security and is better able
to block malicious software. But this is just the first step in
Facebook and Myspace - run by corporations, your
activities and IP address details are more or less open slather
for surveillance, and such websites can be used to build up a
picture of your associates and activities in a transparent way.
Incredibly these sites are moving in the direction of offering
users the service of tracking the GPS of their mobile phones -
so your friends can see where you are. But who in their right
mind would want a website continuously revealing your whereabouts?
Another factor in web security is having all the relevant protection
on your computer. This includes a firewall, anti-virus, ad-ware
blockers and IP blockers for bit torrent. For a list
of free and recommended software for Windows see the list
You are more exposed to surveillance through email than you may
realise, especially if you use Hotmail, Yahoo, Googlemail or any
of the other free commercial web email accounts. Think about it
- your personal messages are sitting on some computer somewhere,
and possibly in a country where authorities can get free access
to your data (and that includes Britain). For that reason it is
recommended that you use an email account which does not log IP
addresses of its clients - so it is hard to work out where you
are connecting to your email account from - and one which encrypts
your personal information on its server. Two websites which offer
this for free are Aktivix
but these are only really available to activists: you either need
two friends who have already got accounts to get one, or apply
for one yourself, but you may need to convince them that you are
an activist who needs this sort of security. For more info about
high-security web browsing and email see below.
One easy way to increase the security of your PC is to remove
Windows and use GNU/Linux
- SchNEWS recommends Ubuntu.
For starters it can't get the vast majority of computer virus's
because they are written for Windows. Also GNU/Linux computers
automatically are set up with the ports closed - which is what
a firewall does (though you can still have a GNU firewall which
gives you more control over ports). In general a computer with
GNU/Linux is harder to hack than one with Windows because of the
underlying file system and access rights.
Free Security (Windows)
AVG is free anti-virus software. Does what it says on the tin.
Go for the free version once you're on the webpage.
Alarm (follow link, then go to bottom of the page)
A Windows firewall that blocks intrusion attempts and protects
against Internet-borne threats like worms, Trojan horses, and
spyware. It will also track IP addresses and tell you what the
intrusion attempt was for. Disable the Windows firewall, and install
Zone Alarm instead.
Ad-aware is a free multi spyware removal utility designed for
all Win9x / ME / NT40 / W2000 / XP platforms. It scans your system
for components of known spyware parasites and lets you remove
them safely. Should be updated and run regularly.
Blocks access to your machine by thousands of sites who are trying
to steal your imformation. Best used in conjunction with something
like Ad-aware which you can use to scan your machine for spyware
nasties. Should be updated regularly.
If you are downloading bit torrents, you are advised to also run
an IP blocker such as Peer Guardian. It monitors who is trying
to download off your computer - because let's face it anybody
could be downloading from you - and has a database of IP addresses
which it prevents from accessing your computer. These IP addresses
are from known surveillance sites and corporations tracking who
is pirating their media. This could help you from getting busted
for torrent piracy.
browsing and Email
Hide My Ass is a free proxy to surf the internet anonymously whilst
hiding your IP address. Proxy to bypass restrictions, blocked
websites, hide your browsing history and protect your identity
IDsecure & IDseal is a way to maintain your anonymity when browsing
and sending email. IDzap encrypts all data going to and from your
browser, so your information remains private, and it even replaces
URLs and site names in the browser's history with nonsense character
strings. IDseal email is so secure that even the IDzap people
cannot read your encrypted email. You may read basic details on
the open source cryptographic engine combined with 128 bit SSL
encryption and how it all works here www.idzap.com/howidsealworks.php
Anonymizer.com provides a secure tunneling service. This creates an encrypted connection
between your system and the Anonymizer.com servers, allowing you to send e-mail, post
messages to newsgroups, and browse the Web anonymously without even your ISP being able
to snoop on what you're doing. Anonymizer.com's encrypted URL option encrypts Web
addresses in your browser's history list.
Anonymiser also offer a Privacy Diagnostic test
for you to see how vunerable you are. It can show your IP Address,
Hidden Tracking Files, the contents of your Clipboard, your hack
& exploit Vulnerability (this test managed to create a new directory
on my desktop with various files from my system inside !), Browser
& OS information, my Geographical Location and details of my Network.