There are TONS of unfavorable individuals and agencies tracking your Internet activity DAILY, waiting to “get” you.
Things are getting ridiculously out-of-hand. This is not your ordinary blog post, but a rant on why you should start taking precautions to protect your privacy on the Internet because it’s getting bad out there.
In case you haven’t become aware, the Protect-IP act is circulating through the white house and is a dangerous threat to the Internet as we know it. I won’t go into detail on that act because it deserves a totally new post of it’s own.
I will tell you however, why your Internet privacy is important, and how the government has unlimited plans to destroy your rights to privacy by using lobbying, corporations and sneaky bills that many people are too “busy” to pay attention to. Does The US Patriot Act ring any bells?
Here’s a true story.
I got a call from a client last week. The person was upset because their Internet connection through Time Warner wasn’t working. That’s not the worst part. The reason her Internet wasn’t working is because Time Warner received a notice from the MPAA (Movies and Pictures Association of American – or something like that) that she was downloading movies using torrent software and her connection was “quarantined” until she contacted the MPAA. What upset my client so much is the fact that she doesn’t even have torrent software installed on her computer (I advise all my clients to avoid this software), and all of her movie viewing is done by DVD rentals, Netflix and Hulu.
Time Warner cable never contacted my client to inform her of any “violations” and simply shut off her Internet without warning. She only realized it was off because she noticed it wasn’t working and called in. I advised her to contact the MPAA phone number given to her, and upon calling she listened to a prerecorded message advising her connection could have been compromised, and to create a password for her WiFi after removing any copyrighted movies (if any) from her computer.
The morale of the story is these huge conglomerates that provide Internet service are becoming quick to shut off your Internet with no warning, no judge, and no jury. Additionally, they are also snooping on your Internet usage, browsing habits and are turning your information over to third parties. If just an accusation by the MPAA police can cause your Internet to be shut down without legal process, its time to start taking your Internet anonymity seriously.
Here’s are several must-use tips to protect your Internet privacy:
Take precautions to secure your wireless connection
Your wireless connection needs several things to be secure. First, it needs a strong password. Second, it needs a good encryption type (avoid WEP). Third, it should be isolated from the rest of the outside world, as hackers and sniffers are abound. Learn more steps to secure your wireless connection here.
Use a secure proxy for internet browsing
You have absolutely no privacy at all when you’re using your Internet browser. Your IP address is like your physical address. It is a unique identifier that can lead back to your connection, at your home or workplace. An IP is automatically assigned by your ISP and it’s tracked by several companies and untrustworthy individuals.
Additionally, each website you visit can possibly store (log) your IP address. What to do? Use HideMyAss! It is a proxy service that “disguises” your true IP and it works with your current browser. Just click this link to visit HideMyAss and search anonymously to your heart’s content!
DON’T install peer to peer applications
This is my number one suggestion to clients regarding Internet and Privacy. Installing a Peer to Peer file sharing application on your computer (such as the defunct Limewire) opens up your computer to various attacks, not to mention the snoopers are checking these sites for the IP addresses of people who download copyrighted music and movies. So if you install Peer to Peer applications and use them to download, your IP is exposed the whole time and you just might get that call from the MPAA, or the RIAA–your connection may as well be rudely interrupted.
Lock down your firewall
The [Windows] firewall running on your computer is not enough. You will need a good software or hardware firewall that’s configured to block incoming packets from any unknown sources, and to prevent applications on your computer from sending out information without your authorization. Firewalls are not simple to configure for this purpose if you aren’t technically savvy in that area, so contacting a professional will go a long way regarding Internet and privacy for you.
A virtual private network is one of THE best ways to protect your Internet privacy and to keep your IP hidden from unscrupulous folks and snoopers. When using a VPN service, your computer connects to the VPN server, then connects to the Internet from that server–your IP address then effectively becomes the same as the VPN service (for the most part).
Additionally, the VPN server encrypts your data so anyone trying to “read” it can see nothing in particular, other than the fact that data is being transmitted. VPN is very effective when using “free” hotspots such as hotels and coffee shops, that threaten your privacy as well as increase your chances of being hacked. VPN service can be used regardless of where you live and I personally recommend services outside of the US if you are tired of draconian US laws and privacy issues.
That’s about it for now, I could go on with some more tips on hiding your identity online, but I’d have to charge you. Put these tips into practice and protect your natural-born rights to privacy.
Jarvis Edwards – TekTime IT Consulting LLC