Oxymoron: Internet privacy

by fmhilton

I’m sure you’ve heard or read about the NSA’s incredible massive database of information that they’re gathering on every single American from emails, phone calls and other sources.

You’re worried about that, with real cause. You didn’t expect that to happen, did you? That your information would end up in some huge database, just waiting to be possibly used against you.

Sure, I know what the NSA and it’s legion of defenders will say: “Oh, we’re not collecting it for that! We’re just protecting you from the boogeyman.”

You want a bridge? I’ve got one to sell you if you really, truly believe that pack of lies.

It’s illegal and unconstitutional in the United States.

Just because the officials in charge of the government’s massive spying operation say it’s ok, it is not, nor will it ever be.

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution says so:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

But enough ranting on that.

What I’m doing today is giving out some information about how you can reduce your footprint on the Internet to potentially lessen the amount of information the NSA and others (like Google) can gather. It’s not foolproof, and I’m not claiming these programs will do it all, but they’re certainly worth the effort to get.

I’ve been getting proactive on this for the past 4 years. I’ve known that my privacy is not going to be intact while on the Internet, so I’ve been installing some programs on my browser and computer to clean up the tracks I do leave while on. If you’re concerned as I am about this, you’ll do it, too.

First up: get a good AV program. Avast is probably one of the best going, and it’s constantly updating. Every time you log on, it updates.

Secondly, get this program: CCleaner. It is designed to clean up whatever cookies and tracks you’ve made while on the Internet, and it wipes the slate clean from your computer so that those tracks do not affect your machine.

From the CCleaner site:

CCleaner is a free, powerful but lightweight, utility that removes the unwanted files that accumulate on all computers running Microsoft Windows. This includes temporary files, broken shortcuts and registry entries for programs that are no longer installed. Additionally, the program removes cookies, browsing history, and temporary internet files from your browser, eliminating many security threats in the process.

I highly recommend it. It’s free (as are all the programs I’m citing today). Once you get it, the program should be run after every single session on. You’ll be amazed at how much junk you collected while on-line. I usually get about 50mbs of crap right off the computer by running it every time.

Third up: NoScript. This program prevents ad scripts from running while you’re on a site. It’s a very good thing to have because nosy advertisers do not have the chance to possibly inject something into your machine, and it’s been known to happen.
As this blurb says:

NoScript works by automatically preventing scripts from executing on the websites you visit. If you click on the little NoScript icon in the lower right corner, you’ll be able to see what scripts are being prevented and decide which you want to allow and which you want to exclude for security reasons.

A bad script inserted into your registry is actually a virus or trojan..or something worse. Just what you don’t need to do is totally reformat your computer because there was a bit of malware in that script that you didn’t know was in your computer. It ruins your day and your wallet, not to mention your computer.

The last program that I just installed myself in my browser is Ghostery, which lists all the various advertising trackers, loggers, and other devices that companies have been using to keep tabs on you while scanning your browsing habits. It runs while you’re on, and every time you go to a site, it will list every single tracking program that site uses.
As the site information states:

Ghostery™ sees the invisible web – tags, web bugs, pixels and beacons. Ghostery tracks the trackers and gives you a roll-call of the ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers, and other companies interested in your activity.

I’ve formatted mine to block everything and everyone. As a result, I have found that the amount of spam email in my mail program so far has dropped by 80% in about 3 days. That’s how bad this tracking stuff is.

So there you have it. I’m not saying (again) that this is going to cut off the supply of information to unintended sources completely, but at least it’s a start.

Your computer will appreciate it, too. A clean machine is a happy machine!