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The words “privacy” and “internet” are sort of an oxymoron because it’s incredibly hard to be truly safe and anonymous on the internet. ISPs, browsers, and websites are constantly monitoring everything people do online and collecting their data. Cybercriminals should also be a major concern to everyone as they’re always looking for new victims to target.

That said, unless someone’s a person of interest to government organizations or crime syndicates, they can achieve a robust level of online privacy. Check out these 5 ways to safely and privately browse the internet.

Why is More Privacy a Good Thing?

Browsing the internet and using apps generally means giving up a lot of personal data. That’s because governments, ISPs, browsers, websites, and apps are constantly monitoring what people are doing. With websites, for instance, this is done via cookies and trackers.

 

People have always been generally aware that their data is being gathered by companies, usually for either service improvement or ad purposes. But recently, it’s become apparent that companies and app developers are privy to people’s personal lives to an alarming degree.

Many people might reiterate that “nothing to hide” mantra for why they freely give away all this information. Explaining why that statement is heedlessly naive may well fill a whole book, so here are two short but powerful reasons instead:

– Online security has become directly linked to physical security. Nevermind the people potentially spying over a webcam or smart home camera. Stalking and swatting are two other real-life consequences. Jameson Lopp can certainly attest to that after being swatted and threatened numerous times by an anonymous attacker.

– The copious amounts of data breaches occurring every year is a testament to the fact that companies cannot be trusted with everyone’s personal data. The information they collect is extremely valuable to criminals, and they will go to great lengths to get it.

How to Stay Safe and Private While Browsing the Internet

1. Use a VPN

VPNs are constantly being mentioned these days, but what is a VPN, and how does it actually work?

Virtual private networks provide a way to have a private connection over a public network. The technology utilizes what’s called an encryption tunnel to make data hard to get and unreadable. It also sends the connection through a VPN server which replaces a device’s IP address and changes its owner’s location.

This all means that a person gains both privacy and security while browsing with a VPN turned on. Just keep in mind that this does not protect against malware and a compromised computer or device will still send unfiltered information to attackers.

2. Go Incognito

Browsing in private or incognito mode provides a modicum of privacy by preventing the browser from saving that session’s browsing history. Chrome has also recently added a feature that automatically blocks third-party cookies in incognito mode – but not all trackers. Making this great when combined with other privacy and security steps.

3. Don’t Log Into Anything

Naturally, this advice cannot be applied to everyday browsing as logging into an email or other accounts is sometimes necessary. This is especially true during work hours. There are times when logging in isn’t necessary, however.

 

Following privacy measures, like using a VPN, is canceled out when someone logs into their accounts, instantly identifying them. VPNs will keep the connection secure from outside threats like SSL-stripping, and incognito still means browsing history won’t be saved. 

4. Avoid Too Many Extensions

Extensions can be convenient and incredibly helpful, but they can also be a siphon for browsing data and personal information. It’s not that the extensions themselves are necessarily dangerous – though some are malware in disguise. Instead, it’s that they can be weak links in a browser’s security infrastructure. 

Extension developers don’t always keep up with security updates for their products, and some get abandoned entirely. Cybercriminals take advantage of those weaknesses to infiltrate people’s browsing sessions through their extensions.

This doesn’t mean they should be avoided altogether, as that’s not always possible. Do take care by properly vetting and managing extensions to ensure they remain safe to use.

5. Try a Privacy Browser

Privacy browsers are becoming more and more popular thanks to their focus on the user’s need for protection rather than their corporate greed. Browsers like Tor, DuckDuckGo, and Brave, block all trackers and don’t collect browsing history. Each privacy browser has its own list of beneficial features but the Tor browser warrants a special mention.

Tor utilizes a network of servers to anonymize a person’s browsing session. It sends their network requests through a series of “nodes” which replace a device’s IP address. Keep in mind, however, unlike a VPN, Tor does not anonymize any other online events, like apps, nor does it encrypt the connection.

Final Thoughts

It’s not fair that these are the lengths needed to ensure online privacy and security. Things are looking up, regulation-wise, but the reality is that privacy declines as technology improves. Already there have been major issues regarding the IoT and home smart devices being abused to spy on people.

[Source: This article was published in thebuzzpaper.com By Devashish Pandey - Uploaded by the Association Member: Clara Johnson] 

Categorized in Internet Privacy

A recent research paper has reaffirmed that our internet history can be reliably used to identify us. The research was conducted by Sarah Bird, Ilana Segall, and Martin Lopatka from Mozilla and is titled: Replication: Why We Still Can’t Browse in Peace:On the Uniqueness and Reidentifiability of Web Browsing Histories. The paper was released at the Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security and is a continuation of a 2012 paper which highlighted the same reidentifiability problem.

Just your internet history can be used to reidentify you on the internet

Using data from 52,000 consenting Firefox users, the researchers were able to identify 48,919 distinct browsing profiles which had 99% uniqueness.

This is especially concerning because internet history is routinely sold by your internet service provider (ISP) and mobile data provider to third party advertising and marketing firms which are demonstrably able to tie a list of sites back to an individual they already have a profile on – even if the ISP claims to be “anonymizing” the data being sold. This is legally sanctioned activity ever since 2017 when Congress voted to get rid of broadband privacy and allow the monetization of this type of data collection.

 

This type of “history based profiling” is undoubtedly being used to build ad profiles on internet users around the world. Previous studies have shown that an IP address usually stays static for about a month – which the researchers noted “is more than enough time to build reidentifiable browsing profiles.”

It isn’t just our ISPs and mobile data providers that are siphoning up browsing history and using it for fingerprinting purposes, though. The authors noted in the abstract:

“[…] we observe numerous third parties pervasive enough to gather web histories sufficient to leverage browsing history as an identifier.”

These third parties include obvious players with a lot of insight into internet traffic such as Facebook and Google. All hope is not lost, though. In their user-facing recommendations section, the researchers commented:

“Until the state of the web has improved, the onus of ensuring privacy often falls on the user.”

Reidentification is a provable, real problem on the internet that internet users need to prepare for. It’s unfortunate that the internet infrastructure isn’t set up to respect privacy, and it’s unclear if it ever will be.

[Source: This article was published in privateinternetaccess.com By Caleb Chen - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jasper Solander]

Categorized in Internet Privacy

 Threat intelligence firm KELA shared a list of more than 900 Pulse Secure VPN enterprise server usernames and passwords with ZDNet, which a hacker had posted on the dark web in plain text.

The usernames and passwords, as well as IP addresses, from more than 900 Pulse Secure Virtual Private Network enterprise servers were posted in plain text on the dark web by a Russian-speaking hacker, first reported by ZDNet.com, which obtained the list with help from threat intelligence firm KELA. 

The list contained Pulse Secure VPN server firmware version, SSH server keys, all local users and password hashes, administrator account details, previous VPN logins with cleartext credentials, and session cookies.  

The authenticity of the list was verified by multiple cybersecurity sources. Further, the list was published on a forum frequented by popular ransomware threat actors, such as REvil and NetWalker. 

 

 

The leak was first discovered by researchers from Bank Security, which observed that the VPN servers listed by the hacker were operating with the firmware version that contained the CVE-2019-11510 vulnerability patched by Pulse Secure in early 2019. 

The Department of Homeland Security and other security researchers have repeatedly urged organizations to patch this critical vulnerability, as hackers continued to target the flawThose targeted attacks continued through January 2020. 

And in April, DHS warned that hackers were using stolen credentials to crack into enterprise networks through the Pulse Secure VPN, even if the vulnerability was patched. 

To find vulnerable VPNs, it appears that the hacker who compiled the list scanned the internet IPv4 address between June 24 and July 8, 2020 and leveraged the known vulnerability to access servers. Then, the threat actor gathered the server details and credentials, collecting the data into a central repository. 

Reviewing the list, it appears that 677 companies failed to patch the Pulse Secure VPN vulnerability. 

VPNs are one of the most common, secure methods used to remotely connect to the network. But as remote connections and telehealth use expanded amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the threat landscape has become much more complex. 

Pulse Secure CMO Scott Gordon told HealthITSecurity.com in March, that in healthcare, providers need to be employing endpoint protection and modern VPN solutions “where you’re encrypting communication session between the device and the data between the practitioner’s devices and application.” 

Since you are now expanding VPN use to more sets of employees contracts and affiliates you should for sure that the VPN software is up to date and current to eliminate the potential VPN vulnerabilities,” Gordon said, at the time. “They’ve essentially broadened the attack surface. Every end user accessing information and resources are now part of their attack surface, and they want to do everything they can now that they've added greater accessibility.” 

To Laurence Pitt, Global Security Strategy Director, Juniper Networks, its unacceptable that organizations failed to patch the vulnerability more than a year after a fix was provided, which allowed for cleartext data dump to occur. 

Further, security researchers have repeatedly provided proof-of-concept data that showed just what could occur if the enterprise left the vulnerability exposed.   

“The lesson learned here? Patch, patch, patch,” Pitt said in an emailed statement. “The data published lists only 900 servers. What we do not know is how many more have not been released – or, which of these could be sensitive servers that are now being poked and prodded in planning for a bigger attack.  

If you are running an older version of code on a service as critical as the VPN is today, then find the latest version and get that upgrade planned, he added.

Healthcare organizations should review insights recently provided by the National Security Agency to better understand the risk and best practice methods to secure VPNs, telework, and other remote sites.

 

[Source: This article was published in healthitsecurity.com By Jessica Davis - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jeremy Frink]

Categorized in Deep Web

Privacy on the internet is very important for many users, to achieve this they resort to TOR or a VPN. ButWhich is better? What are the advantages of using one or the other? In today’s article we are going to see in detail all the advantages and disadvantages that both have.

If we talk about internet privacy, generally the common people do not pay much attention to it. They have all their data in their Google accounts, they log in anywhere, their social networks are not configured to protect their privacy.

We could be giving examples all day. But what can happen if I expose my data in this way? The simple answer? Anything.

From attacks by cybercriminals, to the surveillance of different government agencies, limitation of access to websites, etc. Anything can happen, since information is one of the most powerful tools you can give to a company or individual.

 

When we surf the internet in a normal way, so to speak, we are never doing it anonymously. Even the incognito mode of the most popular browsers is not an effective method to achieve this.

It is precisely by this method that many users decide use a VPN or browse through Tor. The two systems are very good for browsing the internet anonymously, although their differences are notorious and we will mention them below.

Main advantages of using a VPN network

Explaining the operation of a VPN network is quite simple: it adds a private network to our connection. In short, the VPN network takes our connection, takes care encrypt it and then send it to the destination server.

The way it works is too simple, at least in a basic way. Instead of directly entering a website, we first go through an intermediate server and then enter the destination site through this intermediate server.

Using a VPN network is highly recommended for those who connect to the internet from public WiFi networks. Also, one of the great advantages it has is that you can camouflage your real location.

Let’s pretend you are in Argentina, but the VPN server works in the United States. All the websites you access will believe that you are precisely in the United States. Which comes in handy to bypass any kind of content blocking on the internet.

 

Main advantages of using Tor

The idea of ​​Tor is to keep the user anonymous at all times when browsing the internet. To get it, our information passes between a large number of nodes before we can see the website. In this way, it is not possible to determine our location and our connection information such as IP.

Although, it is a reliable system that improves our privacy on the internet. In reality, browsing completely anonymously is not possible and neither is it in Tor. Since, in the final node the data is decrypted to be able to access the site in question. Yes we are exposed although it is much more complicated for them to find out something about us. Tor takes care of that.

When we use Tor, we are much more secure than when using any common browser. But you must bear in mind that it is not an infallible system. Although we will be much safer when visiting websites with secure connections (HTTPS) than in sites that do not have encryption activated.

A very important extra that you should always keep in mind is that: if the website is not secure, that is, it is not encrypted (HTTPS), do not enter any kind of information to it. By this we mean login information, email, bank accounts, credit cards, etc.

Tor vs VPN Which one should you use?

The first thing you should know is that most quality VPNs are paid. In the case of Tor, this is totally free and we will not have to pay absolutely anything at any time.

Another thing to keep in mind is that VPN services do store user data for obvious reasons. Anonymity is lost this way, especially if they had to face the law.

In the case of Tor this does not happen, the only problem with the latter is that the browsing speed is not exactly the bestregardless of the speed of your connection.

The bottom line is pretty simple: If you are an average user who is concerned about how companies use your private data, then it is best to use a VPN network. This will be faster than Tor which will allow us to consume multimedia content without any kind of problem.

In the case of Tor, it is used for those people who need a lot of anonymity on the internet. It is something quite common that we see in people who have to face governments. Like the case of different journalists in Venezuela, to give an example.

The differences between Tor and a VPN network are quite clear. Each one is used for something slightly different, the two promise anonymity. But you must bear in mind that long-term and total anonymity on the internet does not exist.

[Source: This article was published in explica.co - Uploaded by the Association Member: Anthony Frank] 

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Introduction to dark web fraud

Dark web fraud constitutes a global information security problem. The widespread availability of how-to guides providing instructions on how to commit such fraud exacerbates the problem even further.

Before examining these how-to guides in detail, we need to explain the meaning of “dark web.” The web includes two main layers: the surface web, which consists of any content indexed by search engines, and the deep web, which comprises all content that is not indexed by search engines. Content in the deep web can be hidden behind paywalls, firewalls and other types of protection.

 

The dark web constitutes a small portion of the deep web and appeared as a result of the development by the United States of software known as Tor. It allowed internet users to encrypt their location and information they sent and received. This, in turn, ensured their anonymity and privacy. The dark web is often used by criminals for various malicious purposes, such as sales of guns, drugs and other illegal materials. It is estimated that the content available on the dark web constitutes less than 0.005% of the content available on the surface web.

Large volumes of content exchanged through the dark web include how-to guides. According to a Terbium Labs study that covers three major dark web exchanges, 49% of the data sold through those exchanges consists of how-to guides. 

In this article, we will examine the types of how-to guides sold through the dark web. Afterwards, we will discuss their reliability. Finally, we will provide concluding remarks.

Typology of how-to guides

How-to guides can, depending on their purpose, be divided into five categories: account takeover, phishing, doxing, cashing out and synthetic identity fraud. 

1. Account takeover

The term “account takeover” refers to a situation where a fraudster gets unauthorized access to a genuine customer’s account, such as online banking accounts, email accounts and accounts providing access to subscription services. Once the fraudster gets access to a customer account, he or she may use it for various purposes, including but not limited to purchasing goods or services, acquiring more sensitive information which can be used to blackmail the victim and spreading malware to the contacts of the victim.

How-to guides may include detailed instructions on how to use software for automatic detection of vulnerabilities in corporate computer systems. It is believed that such software was used to conduct the British Airways cyberattacks, which enabled hackers to access tens of thousands of frequent-flyer accounts.

2. Phishing

How-to guides may also teach criminals how to conduct phishing attacks. Research conducted by Cyren revealed that 5,335 new phishing how-to guides were made available in 2019 alone. The same research indicated that 87% of the phishing how-to guides included at least one evasive technique, such as content injection, HTML character encoding, and the inclusion of URLs in attachments.Let’s look at those a little more closely. Content injection refers to changing the content of a page on a legitimate website in such a way as to redirect users of that website to a phishing page. HTML character encoding means the inclusion of phishing code in a webpage in such a way as to prevent security crawlers from detecting keywords associated with phishing (e.g., “credit card” and “password”). The inclusion of URLs in attachments is a technique allowing fraudsters to hide links to phishing websites in files.

 

3. Doxing

Doxing is the practice of finding out sensitive information about an individual or organization and making it publicly available with the aim to harass, shame or extort the victim. Doxing how-to guides contain instructions on how to find sensitive information, how to post it in such a way as to prevent the removal of the information and how to obtain monetary gain through extortion.

4. Cashing out

Cashing-out how-to guides contain instructions on how to cash out voucher codes, bank accounts, credit cards, gift cards and other payment methods. In some cases, such guides may provide links to e-commerce websites that can accept stolen financial data purchased through the dark web. In other cases, they describe the steps one needs to take to clone payment instruments, such as debit and credit cards.

5. Synthetic identity fraud

To commit a synthetic identity fraud, one needs to combine stolen information from unsuspecting individuals and combine it with false information, such as dates of births, addresses and names. The resulting synthetic identities are less likely to be detected because of the lack of a clearly identified victim.A report from the US Federal Reserve indicates that synthetic identity theft constitutes the fastest growing type of identity fraud. In 2016 alone, the losses caused by this type of fraud exceeded USD 6 billion. Many how-to guides contain detailed descriptions of methods used to combine actual and fake data in such a way as to mislead the relevant financial institutions into believing that the synthetic identities are genuine.

The reliability of the how-to guides

How-to guides are highly unreliable. In many cases, they provide no useful information and the buyer cannot demand his or her money back. In this regard, Tyler Carbone, a CEO at Terbium Labs, noted: “Ironically, many fraud guides are themselves fraudulent. Bad actors create fake guides, and try to make a profit selling them before buyers catch on.” Of course, this is not surprising as people who teach others on how to commit fraud should not be expected to be honest and ethical. 

Some how-to guides may even include malware to be used by their buyers to commit fraud. Quite often, such malware may actually infect the computers of the buyers. Thus, the buyers who pay for purchasing how-to guides may actually pay for infecting their own computers.

According to the researchers of Terbium Labs, about 11% of all how-to guides are fraudulent. Although the remaining 89% how-to guides contain genuine information about how to commit fraud, many of them contain obsolete data (more than a decade old) or duplicated data (e.g., publicly available data repackaged by the hackers as their own).

Irrespective of the reliability of how-to guides, these materials may provide people with weak computer skills with the opportunity to conduct serious cyberattacks. This is not only because they often contain detailed and simple instructions, but also because they may include ready-made malware that can be used during the attacks and databases of stolen sensitive information which can facilitate fraudulent operations. The average price of stolen sensitive information on the dark web is about $8.50, but one can find such information even at the price of $1.

Concluding remarks regarding how-to guides

How-to guides have the potential to increase the number of global cyberattacks because they reduce the financial and competence requirements required for conducting such attacks. Anyone who can pay about $4 for a how-to guide or about $16 for a collection of how-to guides under a single listing is now able to engage in account takeovers, phishing, doxing, fraudulent cashing-out, synthetic identity fraud and other malicious activities. 

This means that how-to guides can be regarded not only as an information security problem but also as a social problem because their use can lead to the paralysis of the functioning of various social organizations such as governments, hospitals and companies.

 

[Source: This article was published in resources.infosecinstitute.com By Daniel Dimov - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jason bourne]

Categorized in Deep Web

Google, the company that’s making money from ads tailored to your preferences, will finally be more transparent about how ads work. Google, the company that has been involved in various privacy scandals that revealed the novel ways it was tracking your online activity or your location to improve its ads, will tell you exactly how ad tech works. And it’s all happening in Google Chrome, the world’s most popular web browser. It’s not exactly coming from the goodness of its heart. Google still wants to make money off of your anonymized data, and I often explained that the data-for-free-apps trade-off does make plenty of sense for several of Google’s class-leading apps. But competing browsers that offer the user analytics about online ads and trackers, as well as ad blockers that threaten Google’s bottom line, forced Google to rethink its ad-related policies. In recent years, Google announced and implemented several measures meant to allow it to police the bad ads that ruin the internet-browsing experience, and the latest move further complements those efforts.

 

However, the Ads Transparency Spotlight (ATS) comes as a Chrome add-on that you’d have to install from the Chrome Web Store rather than becoming a built-in feature of the browser.

The new ATS add-on was built around an API called the “Ad Disclosure Schema” that allows advertisers to disclose how their ads work. However, ATS will pull information from Google’s ads initially, per ZDNet. Google hopes that other advertisers will expose a similar API/schema for their own system.

The ATS add-on will show you the following information:

  • Detailed information about the ads on the web page, including how many ads are on the page.
  • A list of ad providers responsible for serving the ads on the page. These companies serve ads or provide the ad technology to help ads appear on this page.
  • The reasons why ads are shown on a page. A combination of several factors that decide which ad will be shown on a page:

– Your demographics: May include age, gender, and other information (provided by you or inferred).
– Marketing Campaign: A visit to the advertiser’s website added you to a marketing campaign.
– Your location: General: Broad location, such as country or city.
– Your interests: Topics related to websites you have visited or interests you provided.
– Context: Topics shown to anyone who visits this page.
– Other information: All other reasons.
– Your location: Specific: Your specific location.

Google will also list companies in the ad tech business that deal with social media buttons, web analytics, or tracking scripts. Google will offer links to the privacy policy of each of these countries, where you’ll be able to see what data they collect about you.

chrome-extensions-ads-transparency-spotlight.jpg

Screenshot shows Google’s new Ads Transparency Spotlight for Chrome. Image source: Google

The ATS add-on will not let you take any action against any of the companies, ads, or trackers found on the page. It just presents the information in a neatly arranged format. Should you not like something that you see, you’ll either have to change browsers and/or install programs that can block trackers and ads.

Google did build its own ad blocker in Chrome, a program meant to police the ads that misbehave, and announced that ads would no longer be able to consume resources and drain battery life. Google also announced a new Privacy Sandbox last year that’s meant to add a further layer of anonymity to the data that advertisers collect. Finally, Google last week announced a new Trust Token API tech intended to replace third-party cookies in the future, so the functionality of some websites doesn’t break once the cookies are gone.

Check out the Ads Transparency Spotlight at this linkAnd here is the manual for it.

 

[Source: This article was published in bgr.com By Chris Smith- Uploaded by the Association Member: David J. Redcliff]

Categorized in Internet Privacy

The dark web is essentially pop-up markets packed with drugs, weapons, child pornography, passports, you name it. You can even find counterfeit money or grenades.

SAN DIEGO — You have probably heard about the dark web, in fact, the name itself sparks a lot of curiosity. It is a place where you can buy all sorts of things, from illegal drugs, to passports and even explosives.

Many people think it is not accessible to the average Joe, but that is not the case. Federal prosecutor Sherri Walker Hobson says, “the problem is, not only can anyone do it in America, it is the person next door.”

No one knows that better than 39-year-old San Diegan Sky Justin Gornik. The Clairemont resident was locked up earlier this year for 70 months for buying and selling drugs on the dark web from 2014-2017. Some of the drugs included the deadly carfentanil.

Sherri Walker Hobson told News 8, “In light if the volume of packages he was receiving, they suspected he was likely a dark web vendor here in San Diego.” She went on to say, “I have been a prosecutor for 30 years, and it is shocking to me, we now have the ability to order drugs over the dark web.”

Hobson says patrolling the dark web is not an easy task.

Lance Larson is the co-director of San Diego State University’s Graduate Program in Homeland Security and an expert in both cyber security and homeland security. He says there are three layers to the web.

  • The surface web which is the sites you use regularly. The dot-coms such as Google.
  • The deep web which has data with complex information, legal documents and medical records
  • The dark web

The dark web is essentially pop-up markets packed with drugs, weapons, child pornography, passports, you name it. You can even find counterfeit money or grenades.

Larson says, “we think there is a use by common criminals of the dark web to be able to gather new tactics, or new ways to be able to scam people and to commit fraud."

So how can we go about making sure our personal information is safe? Larson says it is really tough because we give up a lot of info to companies we trust and unfortunately some companies do not have great cyber security practices. He says it is OK to ask how they are protecting your information.

He says some things that are easy to do include locking down your credit report or lock your username and passwords for sites by using multi-factor authentication. This is a security feature that requires more than just a simple password. For example, you would need to receive a text message with a code in addition to a password.

Larson says the dark web can easily be accessed with the proper router. He says “like the onion router, also known as ‘TOR’ without the users browser or history being exposed.” The dark web can also be downloaded to a cell phone.

We asked, is there legitimacy to the dark web? Larson said, “There are some really good legitimate reasons for the dark web. For example, in countries that have a censorship, the dark web allows people in those countries like news reporters to be able to report out and share on what's going on in their country.”

The dark web is so large it is impossible to know how many pages are out there, but undercover agents around the nation are constantly on the lookout. Prosecutor Sherri Walker Hobson says, “people have to think twice before taking something, even if is from your own friend. You can’t be careless anymore. It is like Russian Roulette.”

And just like Hobson, Larson says we can’t arrest ourselves out of the problem. Education is key. 

“It doesn't look like we're going to solve this by taking down dark web websites, here and there. It really comes down to policing our own children and understanding what to look for. Does our neighbor -  are they receiving packages that have things they have purchased on the dark web and reselling in our San Diego communities?”

 

[Source: This article was published in cbs8.com By Stella Escobedo - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jason bourne]

Categorized in Deep Web

If you browse the web in Incognito mode, everything you do is private, right? In a word, no.

Your internet service provider, for example, can still see your activity. This misconception has even turned into a legal battle. A proposed class-action lawsuit accuses Google of tracking users while in Incognito mode, among other things.

If Incognito mode isn’t genuinely private, why use it? I have a few practical uses you’ll want to try.

What does Incognito mode do?

While Incognito mode — in any browser — does provide more privacy than if you’re not using it, it doesn’t live up to the expectations that many have. So, what exactly does it mean to use incognito mode?

 

When you surf the web incognito, your browser doesn’t save your browsing history, cookies, site data or information you enter in forms. It does, however, keep any downloaded files or bookmarks created during the session. Not to mention the fact that your IP address and computer data are still vulnerable to hackers.

Your internet service provider can still see your activity, as can a school or employer providing your internet access or computer.

When using Incognito mode is a good idea

Now, you don’t have true anonymity in Incognito mode, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth using. Here are a few of my favorites.

1. Signing in to multiple email accounts

It’s a pain when you want to check your personal inbox, but you’re logged into another account. Instead of using separate browsers or signing in and out of your accounts, use Incognito mode.

Try signing into your work email using your browser usually, then open an Incognito window for your personal account.

2. Shopping for gifts

Whenever you shop online for a gift, whether it’s for a birthday, anniversary, or Christmas, you want it to be a surprise. Targeted ads can ruin those special moments.

When you shop online, your browser keeps tabs on everything that you look for. Later, you’ll see ads pop-up on other sites that try to get you to come back to make the purchase — even if you already bought the item.

Those ads won’t only be displayed for you. If the person you’re buying the gift for uses your computer, tablet, or smartphone, they will see the same ads. Of course, this is going to tip them off as to what you’re up to. That won’t happen if you shop in Incognito mode.

3. Avoid auto-fill suggestions in the future

Ever need to find instructions for a DIY project on a site like YouTube? The platform is great for learning how to do pretty much anything these days. Need to know how to replace the battery in your car? No worries, there are tons of YouTube videos that will give you step-by-step details on how to do it.

But the need to change your car battery only comes around once every few years. You don’t want to be inundated with suggestions on how to change your car’s battery every time you visit YouTube or any other site for that matter.

 

You can avoid these annoying suggestions by searching in Incognito mode. When your battery dies three years from now, you can do another search for instructions without being bombarded with suggestions.

4. Booking travel

Some travel companies keep track of what you’ve searched for recently and will increase prices the next time you visit the site. If you use Incognito mode, you don’t have to worry about price gouging.

It’s not just the travel industry that does this, either. Many online shopping sites know when you’re stalking an item and could raise the price if you leave and come back later to buy it. Don’t leave it up to chance.

5. Getting out of your bubble

You’ve most likely spent much more time binge-watching TV shows or listening to music in the past few months than normal.

YouTube gives you suggestions on what to watch next based on your viewing history. If you want to step outside of your comfort zone, try searching for new videos in Incognito mode. That way, you’ll get a new perspective on entertainment that isn’t based on your past. You can do the same with your Google searches.

6. View a site as an outsider

Do you have your own website and want to see what it looks like to new visitors? You can check it out in Incognito mode for a fresh perspective.

There are many reasons to use Incognito mode, even though it might not be as private as you’d hope for. Take advantage of these ideas and you’ll never have to worry about ruining the surprise of a special anniversary gift again.

Staying safe online can quickly become complicated. From choosing strong passwords to being careful with what attachments you open to installing the right antivirus software, it’s easy to sink time and money into staying safe.

 [Source: This article was published in foxwilmington.com By KIM KOMANDO - Uploaded by the Association Member: James Gill]

Categorized in Internet Privacy

A VPN, commonly referred to as a virtual private network, is a server that provides you with a safe data surfing experience. Like Avast, a VPN creates an encrypted connection between the device and the VPN platform for protection against hackers. With the growing surveillance and censorship acts, many governments have taken privacy rights from their citizens. More and more internet users are opting for VPNs to bulwark the threat imposed on their right to privacy.

In this article, I’ll elaborate on VPN’s basics and why it is crucial for you to use.


What is a VPN?

When you use the Internet through your device, all your information flows from the Internet to your device. This information is quite easy to intercept for anyone with the right range of equipment. The situation is even more dreaded in the case of public Wi-Fi, where anyone can access your data.

This is when a VPN helps you get rid of the unwanted situation. It forms an encrypted tunnel between your device and the VPN server (a device that can be placed anywhere else in the world). This encrypted information can only be understood by your device and remains ambiguous to all other sources, including hackers, ISPs, and government agencies.

Why you should be using VPN

Here I’ll shed light on the five fundamental reasons you should opt for a VPN when Internet surfing.

  • Your security will be maintained

With the lurking threat of ISPs, government agencies and hackers gaining access to your content, a VPN is the best solution. With the aid of a VPN, you can keep prying eyes away from your content. As all the information is encrypted, it can’t be intercepted by any other source.

  • You can be an anonymous user

Some people consider VPN users as the ones who have to hide something, but, in reality, they are just preserving their right for privacy. Being an anonymous user, your browsing history and personal data will not be visible to hackers, so you are saved from any theft threat.

  • You can save money

VPNs allow you to save a great deal of money. You can subscribe to specific software from other regions’ servers where it’s sold at a relatively lower price. Also, a VPN hinders the use of cookies. Different booking sites therefore cannot skyrocket their rates because you are visiting their sites again and again.

  • You can get access to geo-blocked content

Countries can block content for various reasons, including censorship issues. Opting for a VPN will provide you safe access to normally unavailable sites. With the use of a virtual private network, you can also access popular entertainment sites like Hulu, Pandora, Netflix and more, which are usually blocked anywhere outside the US.

Prevent identity theft

If you’re frequently logging into free or public Wi-Fi then you are in dire need of a VPN. VPNs enable you to confidently use public wifis without the threat of identity theft. Identity theft is a growing concern within the online community. By using a virtual private network your data will remain encrypted and your information secure.

 

[Source: This article was published in shoutoutuk.org By - Uploaded by the Association Member: Robert Hensonw]

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Internet security, like vaccination, should aim to protect the whole herd.

Back in my days as a web developer, we did our development and testing in porn mode. Those outside the industry might refer to this as an “incognito window,” but the phrase “porn mode” is universally understood because usually no one opens an incognito window unless they’re about to load something unseemly.

I remembered that when I read Alistair Barr’s account of his attempt to delete his user data, under the auspices of California’s new Consumer Privacy Act. The process is so cumbersome — it takes more than two hours and requires uploading selfies and a photo ID — that it ends up having the opposite of the intended effect. Instead of granting consumer privacy, the act of submitting a data deletion request draws undue attention to those seeking anonymity.

 

This is where default options matter. If every browser window automatically opened in incognito mode, then it wouldn’t be considered incognito browsing, but regular web browsing. But if only outlaws take the time to safeguard their privacy, then privacy becomes a de facto outlaw product.

Many privacy products are already regarded this way. For example, Tor is a web browser that obscures a user’s internet activity by routing network data through a maze of relays. It’s useful if you’re a whistleblower trying to communicate with journalists, but it can also be used for illicit activity. In 2014, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network found that a majority of suspicious activity reports filed by banks involved IP addresses associated with the Tor network. Today, many financial institutions preemptively block traffic that arrives through Tor. In some cases, banks automatically freeze a Tor user’s bank account. Virtual Private Networks, which hide a user’s activity from the internet service provider, are also frequently blocked. People who go to the effort of protecting their privacy inherently seems suspicious.

But what if we saw privacy protection as akin to a form of vaccination? When we get shots to immunize against mumps or measles, we not only protect ourselves; we protect society as a whole, particularly those individuals who can’t develop immunity. Vaccination is so important that it’s opt-out, not opt-in. Similarly, defaulting to stricter privacy settings would create a safer internet not only for those who adopt them, but for those who, for whatever reason, don’t.

On the internet, data brokers collect information on as many users as possible to generate detailed profiles based on demographics and affinity groups. The more people who cut off the data brokers, the less these companies can infer about any given user. When it comes to consumer privacy protection, setting privacy as the default option protects the most vulnerable members of society.

California’s new privacy law went into effect Jan 1, but will not be enforced until July 1. Compliance requirements are still unclear. The Wall Street Journal suggests that websites with third-party tracking must add a “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” button to their home page, a move that will likely be about as effective as placing your number on the National Do Not Call Registry, or pushing the “close door” button in an elevator.

The only way anyone can really have privacy protections is if everyone has privacy protections. Privacy laws are not helpful if users can only delete their data after wading through two hours of bureaucracy. Companies that profit from massive data collection are rightly optimistic that most users won’t bother with these steps.

    This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

    [Source: This article was published in bloomberg.com By Elaine Ou - Uploaded by the Association Member: Barbara larson]

    Categorized in Internet Privacy
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