Ever feel like someone was watching you? In truth, someone WAS watching.
With only meager imagination you might even describe him: “He walks with a stoop, his eyes are coal pits.”
When you find out what he has stolen from you, you might call him a “foul and loathsome sybarite.” You might even think if you ever catch up with him what you would do to this creature, a man so totally corrupt and hypocritical, someone you’d look upon with disdain, with the feeling one has seeing a cockroach just before stepping on it–because when his midnight shift is over, he leaves his dark computer post and stairs give way onto a lighted street. He moves around a corner, allowing him to blend anonymously and with impunity into a crowd, and to forget that he is no better than the common thief.
Hackers who call themselves “researchers” are all about us. I got a call last week from the Philippine Islands 9,259 miles away and it sounded like someone across town. This sweet voice came from a woman working for a company offering web site and marketing expertise for book authors.
How in the world did their researcher in Asia learn I had written an unpublished book? And here’s the kicker. They even discovered my secret fiction pen name, Donald Bruce, named after my twentieth Scottish grandfather, Robert De Bruce, the brave liberator of Scotland and fourteenth century king.
Like many people, I surf the Net. Whenever you do that you leave yourself open to being snooped upon by web sites.
They can track your online travels, know what operating system and browser you are running, determine your machine name, peer into your clipboard, uncover the last sites you have visited, examine your history list, delve into your cache , examine your IP address (Internal Provider) and use that to learn basic information about you such as your geographic location and more.
To a great extent, your Internet life is an open book when you visit
the web. Don’t believe me? Click onto:
This page reveals your IP address and machine name.
That’s just a start. Click onto links on the left side, such as “Exposed Clipboard,” and “Geographic Location.”
You’ll see just a small sampling of what web sites can learn about you.
LEARN TO SURF
The best way the ensure web sites can’t gather personal information is to surf the web anonymously. Use an anonymous proxy server to sit between you and the web sites you visit.
When you use an anonymous proxy server your browser doesn’t contact a web site directly. Instead, it tells a proxy server whose site you want to visit. The proxy server then contacts the web site, and when you get the web sites page you don’t get it directly from the site. It is delivered to you by the proxy server. Your browser never directly contacts the web server whose site you want to view.
The web site sees the IP address of the proxy server, not your PC’s IP address. It can’t read your cookies (a small file or part of a file stored on a World Wide Web user’s computer, personal information such as a user identification code, customized preferences, or a record of pages visited.
They can’t see your history list, examine your clipboard and cache because your your PC is never in contact with it. You are able to surf anonymously without a trace.
Here’s how you access an anonymous proxy server:
1) You can run client software on your PC, which does the work of contacting your server for you.
2) Or you can visit a web site which does the work of contacting the server
To avoid paying for software, go to Anonymizer.com
In the box at the top of the page, type the name of the site you want to surf, and you will head there anonymously. The proxy server will grab the page for you. You can also download a free version that runs as a toolbar in Internet Explorer. Surf as you would normally, and you’ll visit those web sites directly. When you want to visit a site anonymously, click on a button and the anonymous proxy server will do the work for you.
A fuller version of the program is available on a subscription basis for $29.95 per year or $9.95 for three months. It blooks banner ads, stops pop ups, encrypts the URLs you type so that they can’t be read by your ISP or network administrator, and adds a few other features as well. I don’t find the extra features worth the money, but if these kinds of things are important to you go ahead and spend the money.
GET SOFTWARE FOR ANONYMOUS SURFING
If you prefer to install software, get Steganos Internet Anonym 5 (http://www.steganos.com/en/sia). In addition to anonymous proxy serving, it kills pop ups and manages cookies. You can try it for free, but if you want to keep it you’ll have to pay $29.95.
This article was written by Don White following a reading of a fantastic book that I highly recommend, even if you are barely computer literate:
Windows XP Hacks by Preston Gralla, O’Reilly & Associates, 2003