March 12, 2016 at 6:27 pm #47832
Some already know about how much data is collected as a result of Google (and other) search engine use. For those that don’t, be aware that every search on Google is entered into multiple databases. News accounts of recent high profile crimes have highlighted just how quickly “officials” can learn what a person has been searching on their computer, for example. Are you searching highly illegal things? Probably not. None the less, through the use of database technology, a “composite” picture of a person can be rather well constructed simply by the kinds of things clicked as “Like” on Facebook, terms searched on the popular search engines (Google being only one of them), etc. Even your email is highly tracked, if you get one from a company with which you do business, and therefore “trust.” Most people have no idea just what happens, even with an “innocent” email.
For example, Lehman’s was recently provided elsewhere in the Forum, and it appears to be a reputable business. I’ve already ordered from them. And I agreed (knowing full well what that really meant) to receive emails from the about sales, etc. Be aware, this is merely an example, NOT a criticism of Lehman’s – I consider them to be a very nice source, and have no problem doing business with them. With that said, an email just received from them yesterday morning is an outstanding example of what’s really in emails from companies and organizations. That email advertises a number of things, and offers a 10% discount on orders over $50. Great – no problem. So far.
I happen to use an excellent (and free) email program created by the same folks that created Firefox (Mozilla). Thunderbird can be used with virtually ANY email provider, including AOL, Yahoo, even StartMail (more on that below). If you’ve got one of those “web based” email providers, you do NOT have to go to their site to get your email. You can have it downloaded directly to your Thunderbird email program, along with any and all other email sources you’ve got. Not only is it convenient, but it also keeps you far safer “out there” on the internet. Think of it as putting on your internet protection before engaging. Opon opening yesterday’s Lehman’s email, I could see virtually NO significant content – just a bunch of rectangles connected together, each with a little symbol where all the graphics in the email would go – if I allowed Thunderbird to download the full email, instead of disallowing .html and remote content. [Remote content? That simply means that when you click anywhere in the email, it goes back out over the internet to retrieve the email. Alternately, it also means that what you see in the email is NOT part of the email, but is actually pasted into the email separately from the company – if you’ve got your email program set up to receive everything in the email, and even execute commands that are embedded in the email that you know nothing about before hand. That’s how viruses and other malware are so successful.]
By mousing over each of the incomplete advertising sections, at the bottom of the email page, Thunderbird shows me the ultra-long coded URL to which I’d be connected if I clicked on one of the ads that interested me. The email is full of many, many of those different URLs just in that one email. No problem, it’s just Lehman’s, right? Probably. But if Lehman’s can do it, so can (and does) everyone else, including those that think we’re a bunch of potential right wing domestic terrorists and that they need to know everything about where we go, what we say, what we’re interested in, etc.
But it gets even more interesting. If you click on one of those Lehman’s ads in the email, it will open your browser and go to a page for that particular product, discount, etc. Convenient – thank you Lehman’s. But look up at the URL window at the top of your browser. That ultra-long URL that showed up in your email program is NOT the URL you ended up visiting at the Lehman’s site. Your data was collected, and THEN they referred you to another much shorter URL, specific to the product you wanted to get more information about. So why the ultra-long URL initially, with all the seemingly random numbers, letters, and other characters? It’s coded information, showing such things as who the email was sent to (you), which email campaign it was, and exactly which part of the email advertising you clicked on. They now know whether you’re interested in buying pine tar soap, or just getting a 10% discount. Innocent and safe? Sure – from Lehman’s. It helps them target their advertising. BUT exactly the same process is also used by other organizations for far different purposes.
And search engines? They do the same thing – collect as much data about you as they can, including what your IP address is, what operating system you’re running, and as much other data as they can extract from your computer when you go to their search page and do a search. And no only do they catalog your search terms, they keep track of WHICH search results you visit (as do those pages once you get there). As Sir Walter Scott said over two centuries ago, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive.” A tangled World Wide Web indeed.
What to do? Disconnect from the grid, go live out in the woods 100 miles from anyone else, and cover your tracks so you can’t be followed. And don’t communicate with or visit anyone the entire rest of your life.
Or, short of that, start using Thunderbird (there are a few others that do as well, I’m just not familiar with them enough to recommend them), and use it for receiving ALL of your email, whether AOL, your cable company, Hotmail (Microsoft), Yahoo, Earthlink, GMail (Google), whoever. Set your privacy controls and then you decide whether you want to open the rest of a particular email or not (it give you the option with one simple click of your mouse at the top right corner of a semi-blocked email).
Now about search engines. Anyone who’s seen the Powerpoint slide presentation leaked by Edward Snowden that shows which companies are being used by NoSuchAgency to track people’s behavior, knows full well that Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, and many others are “liked” by that agency – they’re very user friendly to Big Brother. So forget Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines, and quit clicking on everything you see on the internet. You can generally see exactly what you want with an anonymous search engine. We’ve been using Ixquick (and StartPage) as our search engines for quite some time now. Below is a link as to how they work, their advantages, etc. But basically, they look and feel just like Google – including advanced search capabilities, and results that are returned looking almost exactly like they came from Google (because they DO). The only real difference is that you aren’t tracked – even by the Ixquick/StartPage people, or by the end result page you visit. So – you see a page leading to some site you’re interested in viewing? No problem type in the name of the site in the Ixquick/StartPage search engine, and when the results come up, note the word “proxy” immediately after the page’s ULR in the search results. That allows you to not only be untracked by Ixquick, it also allows you to be anonymous when you get to the site you want to see. Sometimes they’re doing so much tracking that they balk at Ixquick delivering you to their page without all your tracking information available to them, so there may be times when certain content is not shown, and even an occasional page that simply won’t load. That’s inconvenient, but you’ll have to decide at that point if you want to use the page while knowing they’re tracking you, or just skip that page (and thank Ixquick for the “heads up”). Here’s an email notice I got this morning from Ixquick. It seems they’re merging with their other related search engine (StartPage) at the end of this month. You’ll still see the results you’d otherwise get from Google and others (because that’s where THEY get them from).
Finally, though there’s an annual fee involved, you can also get your email through StartMail – the email service by the same people. Just go to the main page at Ixquick and read all the reasons why they’re a great deal by themselves (they’re free, too!), along with a link to learn more about StartMail on that same page. Pretty impressive. This page alone is a great primer on internet privacy.
One more tip. If you use a router in your home, do some research and find out how to change your IP address supplied from your internet provider. Your ISP may tell you that you can’t change it without staying off the internet for two weeks, a month, etc., and that you’re pretty well stuck with the IP address they gave you a long time ago. I learned a couple of years ago that I’d been given false information from multiple past internet service providers, whether through ignorance or intentional lying, the outcome was the same. If you’ve got a router, it’s highly likely you can change your IP address whenever you want by resetting your MAC address in the router with your modem disconnected from both the internet AND power. Once you’ve changed your MAC address using your router and reset the router, THEN power up your modem again. It thinks you’re someone else, and it assigns a new IP address to the “new” person that just connected. Want to check without being tracked and recorded? Check it out at Steve Gibson’s excellent web site (Gibson Research):
Oh – and use Firefox and turn off your cookies in your browser. At least by all means, do not tell Microsoft everything – they know more than enough already. Stay entirely away from Internet Explorer.
Steve Gibson’s site is loaded with privacy information. A great starting place is:
Never use your browser or email unprotected. Always use protection.March 12, 2016 at 7:10 pm #47835
Apple produces the ONLY web browser (Safari) that is set as a default to “off” for 3rd party cookies. They’re also the company going up against FedGov and the media on giving the unlocking technology for iPhones to the US government, which then wants to share that information with other countries. Apple has said they’re willing to work on providing the data WITHIN the San Bernardino couple’s iPhone to FedGov, just not by turning over the key to the kingdom to Fedgov.
I have not been an Apple fan almost forever. But more and more, we’re leaning toward Apple, and will almost certainly replace our Android phones with iPhones when we make our next phone changes. Computers? We’re pretty tied to Windows, but I suspect this “free” (NOTHING is “free” from Microsoft) massive push to Windows 10 will eventually be our tipping point, assuming Apple does not cave in to FedGov. There appears to be far more privacy concern by Apple than any other large company. Take that for whatever it’s worth, or not.March 19, 2016 at 10:43 pm #47917
I’m typing this on my Apple laptop. I have found the Apple products to be stable and secure. Switched out of frustration with Windows issues and have not looked back.
The battle for security that Apple is waging just reinforces that I made the right decision.\April 5, 2016 at 3:24 am #48175
I tried to download tor on my Apple iPad without success. I clear my cookies a lot though. There are sites I can’t get on without leaving a cookie. But it’s ok if I use some sites on the net. It shows how popular they’ve become. Like drudge and Rawles survival blog. Good basic info. I don’t think what people surf on the net really tells a lot about them. It could all be false. This is the age of deception and betrayal…. sayeth Machiavelli.
Go Apple!April 5, 2016 at 4:26 am #48180
I clear my cookies a lot though. There are sites I can’t get on without leaving a cookie.
I agree. In SOME cases there is a way to visit a site without ever being “known” there. Using StartPage (formerly Ixquick – they merged last week) as your search engine, do a normal search exactly as you would with Google. You can use advanced searches including multiple words within quotes so they become a single search term, for example. StartPage uses Google, but never transmits your data (ANY of it) on to other sites. However, IF you click the main search results, you’ll be then going directly to the site, and they know who you are (IP address, operating system, browser, etc., etc.). Instead, look JUST beyond the end of the main title of the search result and you’ll see the word “Proxy.” Click that, and it will be StartPage that will be accessing the site, not you. Some pages won’t come up at all, but most will still come up without some of the advertising content, etc. The ones that won’t come up also “give away” the fact that they’re trying to collect significant information about you, or are using sub-programs (Java, Flash, etc.) to deliver content TO you – which can also be dangerous. So although some formatting may be a bit “off” when using the proxy search available in StartPage, you can usually read what you really came to read, and know that there are NO cookies being delivered to your computer, no IP address collected, etc., – because the web site thinks “you” are somebody else (StartPage).
This is a typical notice you’ll see returned (this one came from the marxists.org web site, which suddenly went “dark” on Ixquick/StartPage a year or so ago, after being highly readable. Apparently they want to know much more about who’s looking at their pages.
The page you requested could not be retrieved by the Ixquick Proxy, as a “403 Forbidden” message was received.
It is possible that the page is not available to anyone. Alternatively, the page may require the use of a certain browser, or cookies, or a password, for access.
Click here to access this page directly.
Only if I really, really want to see a page do I make a risk/reward decision on whether to do a direct access (basically totally “seen” by the page I want to visit). But I’ve also got Firefox set to delete all cookies every time I close the browser. And I close the browser frequently after visiting certain sites (especially banking, etc.), and then quickly reopen the browser to look at something else – then my previous cookies aren’t anywhere to be found by the next site I go to.
If you want a real eye-opener, download a Firefox add-on called “Lightbeam” and start looking at it periodically. It will show how many OTHER sites you’ve connected to, simply by connecting to what you thought was just one site.
One other tip I learned. If your ISP tells you that you can’t really “lose” your IP address easily, or that you’re stuck with it for months at a time (normally that IS the case), it does not HAVE to be true. There is a way you can get a new IP address in just a couple of minutes, any time you want to, and keep it as long or as short as you wish. If you use a router, learn how to go into your router software and change your MAC address manually (simply change the final digit of the MAC address by one digit – say, from a 4 to a 3 – and save the change). First, unplug your modem completely, so you’re not connected to the internet at all. Then reboot your router with your modem unplugged (if you use your cable company for internet access, for example). Once your router has rebooted with the new MAC address, unplug your router, wait a few seconds, then plug it back in. Once it’s completely back running, then plug your modem back in and let it boot back up. I don’t know why it requires the router to be unplugged and then powered up again after having already rebooted (at least mine does), but unless I do that, sometimes my ISP knows who I am and gives me back the same IP address despite the change in MAC address. It’s a tiny additional pain, but well worth it in order to be “someone else” in just a couple of minutes.
Once you’re back on line, you should have a new IP address. Your ISP sees a different MAC address, thinks you’re someone else, so it assigns a new IP address to you. You can check it by going to Gibson Research’s excellent site and using the “Shields Up” option under the “Services” pull-down menu. It will show your current IP address, which you can compare to what you had a few minutes earlier before the change, just to confirm it’s really changed. That way, you don’t “look” like the same person always traveling around the internet, even if you haven’t been saving “your” cookies. Your IP address still goes to sites – and FedGov and Google (among others) love to keep track of that identifier of yours. So keep changing it and you’re that much more anonymous.April 5, 2016 at 9:28 pm #48193
as for apple being safe phone that’s a laugh they admit they hold the keys to backdoor… if they can brake into 1028 bit micro burst transmission your apple product is like opening a door with no lock. ANY back door will be used if you want to know why certain ethnic groups do so well against their competitor http://takimag.com/article/does_israel_have_a_backdoor_to_us_intelligence_steve_sailer/print#axzz44zMa5hht
use credibility filters on this source but have a few nuggets of truth
nothing is safe just more secure than others best is to hide in crowd
new black berry priv once you alter core software/small hard ware issue and dl some kick ass encryption available to only government sources makes it an ok you can probably hide for one-4 calls before tossing sim chip(hides in background app data streams)
law is now in effect i believe hidden in budget bill
apple is security theater just like if you believe google will notify you if being watched by government( you do know what google roots are?)
honestly they can make it up about you and who can deny a lie with official seal?
if darknet sock(ip change) and tor servers they still got guy from silk road (dread pirate roberts) but only one of his multi accounts which later FBI steals cash https://www.fbi.gov/sanfrancisco/press-releases/2015/former-federal-agents-charged-with-bitcoin-money-laundering-and-wire-fraud
then you have to wonder if it is all a lie https://www.rt.com/usa/337321-burner-phones-california-bill/ or just easier to hide in the herd?
April 7, 2016 at 9:29 pm #48213
- This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by namelus.
Look you can “buy” an unlock cause no one abuses back doors in programs
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