No matter what you do on the Web, you’re probably being monitored or tracked in some way. Though most sites claim they are tracking for advertisement purposes (yeah, like that justifies anything), the days of having a private, anonymous life online are over. Having Web privacy isn’t about doing sketchy stuff on the Internet – it’s about safety and the right to not have your personal life exploited. Even in today’s world of Web tracking, you can take certain steps to reduce or even stop this madness.
Ghostery tracks Web bugs (these are tools used to collect your data that are invisible to you while browsing) and gives you the lowdown on how exactly the bugs affect you. By assembling a list of these naked-to-the-eye trackers, users can suddenly learn everything about them. Click a “bug” on the outputted list, and suddenly you are able to see privacy policies for sites linked to the tracker, and how it’s working to get your information. Ghostery lets you choose how much of your information you want to give away and how much you want to hold back by enabling you to block “bugs” across the board, or one at a time. This is the tool for those who want to be in the know more than those who want to set it and forget it.
Ever hear of the super-cookie? As you know, cookies can be used to track you, but super-cookies (or LSO Flash Objects) are harder to delete, and almost impossible for many users. LSO Flash Objects are a great tool for those who want to track your Internet shenanigans so they can sell you products. BetterPrivacy, however, auto-deletes these super-cookies every time you shut down your browser (just install the add-on and you are set).
3 HTTPS Everywhere
First, get Firefox … because we’re writing Google Chrome out of the picture and we’re still sketched out by Internet Explorer due to its history of security leaks. Now get the add-on “HTTPS Everywhere.” The problem with many websites is that it can be very hard to tell when their security is working or not, or if it has any at all. By using the “HTTPS Everywhere” add-on, you will know that you are being redirected to a working HTTPS (secure) connection. HTTPS will always bring you into a site securely without reverting you to the not-so-secure HTTP and leaving your personal data/info all over the place.
It takes a bit to get used to it, but Tor is one of the most secure ways to keep your Web browsing secure. Traffic surveillance is essentially shut down by Tor’s ability to “onion route” the user. I would try to paraphrase what onion routing is, but Wikipedia says it best: “Onion routing refers to the layered nature of the encryption service: The original data are encrypted and re-encrypted multiple times, then sent through successive Tor relays, each one of which decrypts a “layer” of encryption before passing the data on to the next relay and, ultimately, its destination.” Once you get Tor up and running and figure out how to use it (there is plenty of helpful information on the site TorProject.org), you’ll feel a whole lot better about your bizarre late-night Internet DuckDuckGo searches.
1 Use DuckDuckGo Instead of Google
Google has gotten sketchier over the years and the company has even admitted that there is “no real money to be made” on Web searches alone. This is why Google pushes Gmail, Google+ and all that other Google nonsense on you, and tracks you to boot. Wait, they track you? Yep. It’s time to leap into the future here, folks. DuckDuckGo.com may seem different at first (it is) but it’s actually very clear, concise and some would argue an even better search engine than Google. DuckDuckGo was a small startup that promised not to track its users first and foremost. It is a stellar search engine, and one that keeps you completely anonymous and secure. Besides, if you decide you want to use Google for maps or Google image search, simply type “!g” before whatever it is you’re searching for on DuckDuckGo and it will redirect your search to Google. With tons of additional add-ons, DuckDuckGo is the browser for those who don’t want their searches recorded for advertising purposes, or other villainous scum tactics.