Security, ad-aware, zone alarm, IDzap, anonymizer
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Guide To Anonymity And Security On The Web

Note this guide is primarily for computers running Windows and GNU/Linux - sorry MAC users, but some of the info is still relevant for you. If you use a MAC and can recommend free protection software and other precautions for OsX, please email us.

As more and more of peoples' activity happens online, including communicating, buying goods and travel tickets and banking, it's become more critical that people be careful how exposed themselves on the web.

Browsing The Web

Be aware that when you browse the internet, it's fairly easy for the police or other authorities to get access to your logs from your web provider, which can be used to track your activities and communications. For all operating systems (Windows, MAC and GNU/Linux) the recommended web browser to use - as opposed to MS Internet Explorer - is Mozilla Firefox, which has higher security and is better able to block malicious software. But this is just the first step in internet security.

Facebook and Myspace - run by corporations, your activities and IP address details are more or less open slather for surveillance, and such websites can be used to build up a picture of your associates and activities in a transparent way. Incredibly these sites are moving in the direction of offering users the service of tracking the GPS of their mobile phones - so your friends can see where you are. But who in their right mind would want a website continuously revealing your whereabouts?

Another factor in web security is having all the relevant protection on your computer. This includes a firewall, anti-virus, ad-ware blockers and IP blockers for bit torrent. For a list of free and recommended software for Windows see the list below.

Email

You are more exposed to surveillance through email than you may realise, especially if you use Hotmail, Yahoo, Googlemail or any of the other free commercial web email accounts. Think about it - your personal messages are sitting on some computer somewhere, and possibly in a country where authorities can get free access to your data (and that includes Britain). For that reason it is recommended that you use an email account which does not log IP addresses of its clients - so it is hard to work out where you are connecting to your email account from - and one which encrypts your personal information on its server. Two websites which offer this for free are Aktivix and Riseup, but these are only really available to activists: you either need two friends who have already got accounts to get one, or apply for one yourself, but you may need to convince them that you are an activist who needs this sort of security. For more info about high-security web browsing and email see below.

GNU/Linux

One easy way to increase the security of your PC is to remove Windows and use GNU/Linux - SchNEWS recommends Ubuntu. For starters it can't get the vast majority of computer virus's because they are written for Windows. Also GNU/Linux computers automatically are set up with the ports closed - which is what a firewall does (though you can still have a GNU firewall which gives you more control over ports). In general a computer with GNU/Linux is harder to hack than one with Windows because of the underlying file system and access rights.

Free Security (Windows)

AVG
AVG is free anti-virus software. Does what it says on the tin. Go for the free version once you're on the webpage.

Zone Alarm (follow link, then go to bottom of the page)
A Windows firewall that blocks intrusion attempts and protects against Internet-borne threats like worms, Trojan horses, and spyware. It will also track IP addresses and tell you what the intrusion attempt was for. Disable the Windows firewall, and install Zone Alarm instead.

Ad-aware
Ad-aware is a free multi spyware removal utility designed for all Win9x / ME / NT40 / W2000 / XP platforms. It scans your system for components of known spyware parasites and lets you remove them safely. Should be updated and run regularly.

SpywareBlaster
Blocks access to your machine by thousands of sites who are trying to steal your imformation. Best used in conjunction with something like Ad-aware which you can use to scan your machine for spyware nasties. Should be updated regularly.

Peer Guardian
If you are downloading bit torrents, you are advised to also run an IP blocker such as Peer Guardian. It monitors who is trying to download off your computer - because let's face it anybody could be downloading from you - and has a database of IP addresses which it prevents from accessing your computer. These IP addresses are from known surveillance sites and corporations tracking who is pirating their media. This could help you from getting busted for torrent piracy.

Anonymous Internet browsing and Email

www.hidemyass.com
Hide My Ass is a free proxy to surf the internet anonymously whilst hiding your IP address. Proxy to bypass restrictions, blocked websites, hide your browsing history and protect your identity online.

www.idzap.com
IDsecure & IDseal is a way to maintain your anonymity when browsing and sending email. IDzap encrypts all data going to and from your browser, so your information remains private, and it even replaces URLs and site names in the browser's history with nonsense character strings. IDseal email is so secure that even the IDzap people cannot read your encrypted email. You may read basic details on the open source cryptographic engine combined with 128 bit SSL encryption and how it all works here www.idzap.com/howidsealworks.php

www.anonymizer.com
Anonymizer.com provides a secure tunneling service. This creates an encrypted connection between your system and the Anonymizer.com servers, allowing you to send e-mail, post messages to newsgroups, and browse the Web anonymously without even your ISP being able to snoop on what you're doing. Anonymizer.com's encrypted URL option encrypts Web addresses in your browser's history list.

Anonymiser also offer a Privacy Diagnostic test for you to see how vunerable you are. It can show your IP Address, Hidden Tracking Files, the contents of your Clipboard, your hack & exploit Vulnerability (this test managed to create a new directory on my desktop with various files from my system inside !), Browser & OS information, my Geographical Location and details of my Network. www.anonymizer.com/snoop/test_ip.shtml

 
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