As of this writing, the U.S. Congress has voted to gut the FCC privacy protections of U.S. Citizens and allow ISPs or any internet service provider to sell your internet usage information, to anyone, without your consent or knowledge. President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law in the near future. So now the question is, how do you keep your internet usage private now that ISP’s can sell your browsing profile?
Here’s what you can do to protect your browsing privacy and security.
If you are willing to PAY for services, a number of VPN systems can do the job nicely like Cloak or if you have scripting experience, you might check out Algo.
If you do not want pay to exercise your right to privacy and security there are other good options.
My recommendation would be to use TOR technologies. The TOR Browser is great for people that are not ‘tech savvy’ or just want the most straightforward easy solution. For users that want to go the extra mile, you can run an entirely secure and private operating system called Tails.
The TOR browser is FREE for Windows, Macintosh and Unix users. The TOR Project does not currently make APPs for iOS and Android operating systems, however free browsers are available for these platforms such as Onion Browser for iOS and Orbot for Android among others. The “problem” with the APP clients is that these programs are not created by the TOR Project and don’t necessarily have the same code review.
Install the TOR Browser as you would any other browser like FireFox or Chrome and you are ready to go. The pre-configured settings are very good for the average user. If you want even more security, just use the security slider to adjust settings easily.
If you would like to have a wholly secure operating system, Tails is a free Unix based system that can run off of your computer or just off of a USB thumb drive.
I personally feel discouraged that our traditional values of protecting citizens’ personal property will now no longer extend into the modern day use of our home internet usage nor the ability to protect our identities from social engineering. It is clear that we will have to go to additional efforts to educate and protect ourselves, our family and fellow employees until respect for the liberty, privacy and security of the common citizen is at least as important as corporate profits to our legislators.
Common questions about how to keep your internet usage private:
What should do you do with your current browsing history?
Your browser’s history is not related to this action. Your ISP can make a log of your internet activity even if you clear your history or do not enable cookies.
Clearing your browser history helps only if your computer is stolen or used by other people or in rare cases infected with malware.
Should you clear your cache?
Clearing your cookie cache is a good regular activity, however this only protects you from malware and bad web servers (cross-site scripting). This will do nothing to limit your ISP’s ability to log your traffic to and from the internet.
What else should you do to keep your internet private?
In the long run, it is important that we elect leaders and communicate to those leaders that the personal privacy and internet security of U.S. citizens is important and ask them to one again allow the FCC to limit the ability of ISPs to spy on their customers and sell customer information without prior agreement.
Secondly, vote with your wallet. If you can find ISPs that will commit to keeping your data and activities private, use those companies.
How to keep your internet usage private on phones and tablets?
Phones, tablets and laptops can be used in many locations and therefore often connect through various ISPs. Many people use only WiFi while others use a mobile carrier or both. These devices are especially open to tracking and require end users to get good security awareness training.
Take the next step to protect yourself
Make sure your security and digital freedoms are not compromised. Educate yourself with a Security Awareness Class, or if you are a more advanced IT pro, I recommend a Security Engineering class such as CompTIA Security+.