Isn’t that the parent’s plight? Well, I’m not talking about quiet time while you go potty…this is privacy internet style!

Remember when the internet was a lawless landscape where anything could happen? Hahaha…just kidding, it’s still that same place. Except the players have changed some. Back in the day, you had to worry about hackers legit finding your computer and messing things up. They could get into your computer and copy files, find out passwords, steal your photos (in case you had some of THOSE on the drive)…hell, they could even turn your computer into a zombie server that would process data while you were away from the computer! Hey, those passwords weren’t going to brute force themselves!

You still have to look out of all of that and more, now! Don’t even get me started on ransomware and doxxing. Nope. Well..okay, just a little.

SUPER BASIC PRIMER ON RANSOMWARE AND DOXXING

Ransomware is malware you can pick up from various infected sites that will go in, and encrypt your entire hard drive then give you a message that says for X-number of dollars they will give you the key and you can get your stuff back. Even the FBI says to just pay them, as the encryption they use is too strong for even the FBI to break.

Doxxing is even worse. This is where someone goes and hacks into as many areas of your life as they can to dig up as much personal information on you as possible and then post it for the world to see. You know, basic information like account log ins and passwords, SSN, phone number, address, location of employment, mother’s maiden name, bank you do business with, routing and checking account numbers if possible, etc…you get the idea. The information is dumped out there for every troll with a keyboard and a bad attitude to come at you, brah. Or, it’s sold to the highest bidder.

That’s what it’s called from the hacking side of the coin. It’s the illegal side. We see it for what it is. It’s immoral, mean-spirited at best and evil at worst.

But, when your ISP does it, it’s called business as usual!

That’s right folks, you have had very few privacy protections when it comes to the internet. The Obama administration tried to fix some of that (not nearly enough in my book, but I digress). Today, our illustrious government bottom-feeders undid the fix before the fix could be totally implemented. Basically, what it means is that your ISP can collect any and all information on you at all times wherever they can…and sell it to the highest bidder without ever telling you or asking your permission. You supply the information, they collect the dollars.

BUT WHAT CAN I DO? I’M ABOUT TO TELL YOU!!

So, here’s what you can do to help stop your ISP from collecting so much data about you! (And Google too, because screw those guys!) Seriously, every site that has Google analytics code embedded in it…is tracking everything you do there. EVERYTHING. Just sayin’.

First off, you’re going to want to change browsers. It doesn’t matter if you currently use IE, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, they are all watching you. In fact, I’m being watched as I type this. And if I didn’t have my laptop’s camera covered, I’d shoot the bird to it just in case. 😀

Browser: 

You’re going to want Tor.

From the site:

The Tor software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.

Tor Browser lets you use Tor on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux without needing to install any software. It can run off a USB flash drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained (portable).

This also means you can use it on public computers. You know, like when you check your email at the local library. Seriously, don’t check your email on a computer at the local library. Not without wearing a condom first.

https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en

Search Engine: 

Forget Google. Remember DuckDuckGo!

They don’t track you. And, you can add it as a Chrome extension if Tor is too daunting for you right now.

https://duckduckgo.com/

I know what you’re thinking. “But, Scotty, what about my phone?”

I hear you. And frankly, it’s a nice phone. Not sure why you want to show it to me while I’m in the middle of…oh wait. Oops! Now I get it. Privacy on your phone!

That one is a little harder, BUT, Tor is available. I’ll post the links below.

Mobile version of Tor: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.torproject.android

Mobile Browser: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=info.guardianproject.orfox

Now to REALLY get down the rabbit hole. VPNs! 

It stands for Virtual Private Network. Companies who have employees teleworking use them all the time. It makes it harder for hackers et al to steal commercial secrets and slows down corporate espionage. And the good news is, you can use one yourself! And they aren’t all that horrible to set up.

Here’s a link that can help you set one up in 10 minutes or less:

10 Minute VPN Setup

There are more options out there. These are a few to get you started. And seriously, you wouldn’t let a perfect stranger have access to your information for free and then sit back while they sold it…so don’t let someone YOU pay, do the same to you!

Get involved. Too many laws are being made by people who either don’t understand how things really work, or are getting bank from companies that don’t have our best interests at heart. I’ll leave you with this. This was an esteemed legislator from Alaska a few years ago, fighting e-commerce because he had an internet get stuck in a tube with a video or something…

 

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