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Tiger Privacy: How to Surf Privately

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IIt's not easy to surf the web privately today, but it is still possible. The best privacy software is open source so it's free. That's good, since "security" software without source code isn't secure.

Whenever possible replace http with https in any URL. A URL is the address for a page, usually from link or jump point. By the way, you can be pretty be sure your connection is being monitored if you get a very slow https connection, but the same URL with http is fast. Since web servers handle both at about the same speed, a difference big enough to see means someone else is in the middle.

Always use a web proxy. When you visit a web site the web server thinks you are using the proxy machine. Your real location is hidden. The best web proxy right now is tor. Part of it installs on your own system. But most of it is a network of little proxies scattered around the planet, all working together to protect your privacy. Tor passes your web traffic from system to system, both sending your request to the web site and returning the site's pages to you. To find you, an attacker would have to peel away each of those systems like the layers of an onion.

Tor comes with another little web proxy that runs on your own system called privoxy. Make sure you set your browser to use privoxy/tor for https (SSL) and ftp. The ftp protocol doesn't work through privoxy, but this will still help you stay private.

Your address online is a number called your IP address. One way web sites get your IP address even through tor is to get your browser to run some malicious code. In your browser, turn off all code from the web that runs automatically on your machine. This includes javascript, java, ActiveX/DirectX, etc. You can turn them back on temporarily when you actually need them and are willing to expose yourself.

Finding all the places in your browser that enable remote control and turning them off is not easy to do. In Firefox you can try the noscript (switchproxy) plugin. A better approach is to use a web proxy that runs on your own system and allows only non-executable html to pass. If the bad code never gets to your browser, your browser can't run it.The best choice today is muffin with its PlainHtml filter. Your browser talks to muffin. Muffin talks to Privoxy. Privoxy talks to tor. Warning: Muffin can leak dns information, that is, information about which sites you contact.

Of course if you don't want to be tracked at all, turn off cookies. If you're really hardcore, turn off images in your browser so it's even harder for someone to expose you by cracking your system. No images also means no image-based web bugs. Muffin's PlainHtml filter already tries to block other web bugs.

The bad guys are spending billions to track you. It's not easy to surf privately, but you can still do it with a little work. And it's all free.

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