Privacy

Is internet privacy impossible?

Internet privacy is becoming more and more of a topic of discussion these last few months as issues with Google, Apple and Sony are in the headlines. Privacy advocates are going as far as saying that privacy does not exist, it can’t exist and on the internet privacy is virtually impossible. In some way they are right,  people don’t take the time to read privacy policies, terms of use and any agreements when they sign up to services that they really have no idea where their data is going or what its used for.

Here at Hide Yourself Online we dont agree with this assumption. There are several steps users can take to protect their privacy both online and offline, if you play it smart you can remain totally anonymous by following some simple rules.

It all starts with being smart, if you really need to use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Myspace etc than don’t put all your personal details in your accounts. Don’t use your real name, it is well known that employers are now searching Facebook to find out more about the people they hire. Don’t list your address or phone numbers and don’t go posting private pictures that can be viewed by the whole world. Better yet you should just stay away from these services all together.

There are other steps to take such as privitzing emails, not keeping the same password for all your accounts, forum privacy, instant messaging, wireless internet protection and several encryption methods. The most important factor when protecting your privacy online is a VPN to hide your IP address.

All these things can be explained on our webpage but a good start can be found by reading this page on Internet Security. One important thing to remember though is you must use your brain, most of this is just common sense.

Internet Privacy

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Friday, June 10th, 2011 Internet, Privacy No Comments

Internet Privacy Bill rejected in California for the 2nd time

Bill SB242 also known as the internet privacy bill was rejected 19-17 by lawmakers in California for the 2nd time after coming under heavy opposition by those pesky social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook who want the bill abolished because it will defeat the purpose of their website which is to exploit internet privacy.

The bill would have prevented any website from displaying users personal information publicly and any request to remove personal information would have had to be done within 96 hours or they face a fine of up to $10,000 per offense. It would also allow parents to control the accounts of their children and remove anything personal such as phone numbers or addresses which had been posted publicly online.

The bill has been wildly supported by the Child Abuse Prevention Council, California State Sheriffs’ Association and the Consumer Watchdog association.

It seems that companies such as Facebook are paying off lawmakers in order to reject these bills, because we cant think of any reason why anyone with a child would reject such a bill, it seems insane…

Internet Privacy Bill

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Sunday, June 5th, 2011 Internet, Privacy No Comments

New Private Browsing feature for mobile Firefox users

Mobile phone users with the Android operating system can rejoice today as Firefox releases a new version of its popular mobile web browser that includes the “Do Not Track Privacy Feature” which is already used in its desktop browser. Firefox for Android is currently the only mobile browser that us the do not track feature.

This feature can be turned on in the setting tabs as pictured below. Android users can download the beta application for free from Android.com

Android private browsing

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Sunday, May 22nd, 2011 Internet, Privacy No Comments

Ant Video Downloader addon for Firefox a privacy concern

If you are a user of Firefox and have the Ant Video Downloader add on installed than we strongly recommend you remove it ASAP. The app which has recently been removed from the Firefox website has been found to be secretly collecting data about every website you visit and combines it into traceable data even when Private Browsing is enabled. The add on which had over 7 million downloads with more than 7000 new downloads daily was very popular.

A researcher found the problem in the middle of developing web applications. He discovered that every single HTTP request his computer made was being sent to Ants servers which is owned by a company called Reality Check Network Corp.

The developer Simon Newton was quoted as saying

“”As there is this unique identifier, patterns could be built up about where I go — for example if I use my laptop at work, at a public wifi hotspot, at home or a friends house — that [UUID] and cookie can be tied to all of those IP addresses, building a picture of not only what I am doing online, but where I am doing it from.”

“What alarms me a bit more is that the data that is transmitted about me and my browsing (even anonymously) is going onto servers in New York, USA,” he continued. “What if I were visiting [a] site I did not want anyone to know about? What if the US government subpoena ‘Reality check network corp’ for all information stored on their servers about my IP address, cookie, or UUID?”

Another concern is that Firefox did not check this application carefully enough when it was approved to be listed on their site. Firefox currently has more that 5000 add ons listed and this could be the first of many secretly disguised applications that are tracking the movements and data of its users.

Should you get rid of Firefox? We don’t think that is necessary, but you should always be careful what add ons you are installing. The add on is also available for download on Internet Explorer. If you are looking for an alternative we recommend Download Helper with more than 91 million downloads.

Ant Video Downloader Addon

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Sunday, May 22nd, 2011 Privacy No Comments

Apple responds to fury over location data

Following our recent post on the secret iPhone feature that tracks your movements Apple has finally responded saying they will cease backing up the cache that records the tracking, delete any cache stored when Location Services is turned off and reduce the size of the crowd sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower database cached on the iPhone.

All this they say will be fixed in the next major iOS software update.

They have also responded to a number of questions in this Q&A session they had at this link. A must read for all iPhone users.

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Thursday, May 5th, 2011 Privacy No Comments

Facebook used as a syping tool for the government

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was interviewed by Russia Today yesterday on Facebook privacy concerns, the Arab uprising, social networking, media manipulation and Guantanamo Bay

Assange calls Facebook the “most appalling spying machine” that has ever been invented.

“Here we have the world’s most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations and the communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to US intelligence. Facebook, Google, Yahoo – all these major US organizations have built-in interfaces for US intelligence. It’s not a matter of serving a subpoena. They have an interface that they have developed for US intelligence to use. ”

You can view the entire interview by watching the video below.

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Wednesday, May 4th, 2011 Privacy No Comments

Secret Iphone feature tracks your movements [Update]

As a follow up to yesterdays post on the secret Apple iPhone tracking fiasco, the below video shows its making it onto some of the main stream media outlets. So far Apple has still not responded. We will post another update when Apple does respond to their secret tracking software on the iPhone 4.0.

 

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Tuesday, April 26th, 2011 Data, Privacy No Comments

Search engines may be your enemy without a VPN

An interesting fact for some of you that are not already using a VPN. Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo keep all your search history including keywords, IP addresses, cookies etc. on file for 18 months after you did the initial search. Why do they need to keep this data on file? Well only they really know, but if you are not using a Virtual Private Network to hide your true identity than every search, every page and quite possibly everything you have done on the internet in the past 18 months has been tracked and recorded. Yahoo recently changed its policy from 6 months to 18 months after it changed from 18 months to 6 months a few years back.

It doesn’t stop with the search engines either. Google Analytics tracks every user going to a specific website, what they do on that site, how long they are on it, what pages they visit and when they leave it. It can also pinpoint your location down to a few kilometers as you can see if this screen shot below taken from our Google Analytics of a user in California.

Hide your location with a VPN

From Google we can see your location, browser, network speed, internet service provider, screen resolution and more!

Alot of this information is also used to target advertisers. Have you ever searched for something like “how to hide my ip address” and then suddenly your seeing ads on several sites directed to that previous search? Yes you guess it right; the search engine has stored this information and is now targeting specific ads based on that search from cookies stored in your browser. You are now on their marketing list.

So how do you stop this type of behavior and stop yourself from being tracked? Simple you just need to do a few things.

1. Get a VPN, this is the most important security feature to surfing online, it will protect you by encrypting your connection and also hide your true identity by hiding your IP address. View a list of the top VPN providers here.

2. Use the private browsing features in Google Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer. This will make sure no data, history, cache or cookies are stored on your computer. In Google its called “Incognito Mode” in Firefox its Private Browsing and in Internet Explorer its called InPrivate browsing. If you need help setting them us send us a message on the Internet Security Forum.

3. Not a necessity, but don’t browse the internet when signed into your Google or Yahoo account. Keep 1 browser specifically for browsing the internet and another one for your emails and personal stuff.

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Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 Data, Internet, Privacy 1 Comment

Michigan State Police searching cell phones of citizens

Quite a bizarre story for you today, one so outrageous it doesn’t even sound true, however it was posted at the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) website earlier this month.

According to a complaint filed against the Michigan State Police, the police are using specialized portable devices to search and extract your personal information, videos, call history, emails and messages etc. on your cell phone during random routine stops on the cities roads. The device the police officers are using is called the UFED Physical Pro which are sold by a company called  Cellebrite with a a slogan of “mobile data secured” well not in this case. The device which seems to be made to restore access to phones including a data dump and also recovering the lock and sim passwords does not appear to be made for the purposes of searching private citizens phones but the police are using it for their own purposes in violation of your 4th Amendment rights.

The ACLU has been investigating this case all the way back to 2008 with no success. You can find Information on the ACLU website. Just a thought though, imagine if this hardware and these tactics were used everywhere, including on laptop in airports at road blocks etc, is that a country you would want to live in? Perhaps this is just a trial and its success could see it rolled out in other cities across the USA.

UFED Physical Pro

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Friday, April 22nd, 2011 Data, Privacy No Comments

1000′s of private documents dumped on the street

A reader recently sent me in some pictures of a huge pile of secret and potentially dangerous documents dumped outside a business that had been shut down in his city which appear to be somewhere in France as alot of them are in French. I will post some of the images below but not all of them, they include company documents such as bank account numbers, bank statements, customer data, phone numbers, names and addresses, employee data such as names, phone numbers and addresses as well as resumes and qualifications. There were also purchase invoices, receipts and pretty much every single document a company would have on file dating back to 2003.I have removed some of the sensitive information to protect the employees.

I was quite shocked to see what this anonymous reader sent in, not only at what had been discarded simply on the street but that absolutely no care had been taken to protect their own data. This is just 1 company going out of business, now just think of the thousands or millions that went bust during the 2008 crash, and the ones that will go bust in the new crash, what do they do with all their documents, looking at the pictures below doesn’t it make you wonder?

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Saturday, April 16th, 2011 Privacy No Comments
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    If you are a user of Firefox and have the Ant Video Downloader add on installed than we strongly recommend you remove it ASAP. The app which has recently been removed from the Firefox website has been found to be secretly collecting data about every website you visit and combines it into traceable data even […]