Privacy on the internet is becoming a bigger and bigger topic to many. Different web sites are collecting so much information about you and selling it to other companies or just collecting it on their servers. Your private information is stored on Facebooks servers, Google tracks every search you do and tracks which web sites you visit. Gmail.com and Outlook.com also store emails. And with companies like Facebook changing their “Privacy” policies to allow them to do more with your information you are right to be concerned. There have even been stories of hackers being able to log into secure accounts by answering security questions they got from the person’s public Facebook page.
So What Can I Do About It?
I am going to talk about two things to help your “trail through the internet” stay private to you. One free option is DNT (Do Not Track) feature in internet browsers and the other is private Anonymous VPN service which cost money.
Do Not Track
“Do Not Track” is a new feature Microsoft built right into Internet Explorer 10 and is turned on by default, but there are other ways of getting DNT as well. Microsoft has received a lot of “hate” from companies for this because advertisers may not be able to track your “internet trail” and post you advertisements based on what web pages you visit. Microsoft is taking a public stance on several ways of increasing your internet privacy. Before you start using Do Not Track you need to be aware this is a request to the web page and doesn’t mean it is completely private. You should learn about its restrictions.
You can visit a web page by Microsoft to learn more about Do Not Track and if you are successfully using Do Not Track. Visit their Do Not Track page for more information. This page also assists with the FireFox Do Not Track.
Private Anonymous VPN
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. A very simple explanation of VPN is a private “tunnel” from your computer network to another network making the path between private or hidden.
When you surf the internet from your house you are given an IP address by your internet service provider. If required to by the government, the internet provider could provide them with a log trail of all your internet activity by this IP address. When you are connected to a private VPN, you have a private tunnel to the VPN service. From there the VPN service gives you another IP address to surf the internet with. The great thing here is that good private VPN services don’t keep logs of what IP address you used or logs of your activity. This way if the government told the VPN service company to give them your “internet trail” they would have nothing to give. In addition to this, some private VPN services are located out of the United States which may provide an extra buffer.
This may sound somewhat complicated, but it basically consists of you double clicking their VPN program icon on your desktop. That is it!
What Private VPN Services Do You Recommend?
There are many VPN services available and they all don’t provide the same layer of privacy. When I was researching these services and trying to find good ones, I came across a web site that actually reviewed these services already, but their focus is on privacy and not quality of service. The author of the web page contacted different VPN service companies and asked them two questions:
1- “Do you keep ANY logs which would allow you or a 3rd party to match an IP address and a time stamp to a user of your service? If so, exactly what information do you hold?”
2- “Under what jurisdictions does your company operate and under what exact circumstances will you share the information you hold with a 3rd party?”
You can read the authors findings by visiting their page titled Which VPN Service Providers Really Take Anonymity Seriously?
What if you want to block these types of services or certain web sites from your employees using them? We have a solution for you; just give us a call at 406-414-0532.
If you have questions regarding your internet privacy please contact us. Our managed IT service customers can also contact us any time to discuss their specific company’s privacy.