If you want to be anonymous in real life, buy a big coat. Online, and for your PC, it’s more complex. Why do it? To shore up your identity, safeguard data, secure eCommerce and give peace of mind.
Better Anonymity with wpCop.com
UPDATE: Feb 2013
This guide is old. The theory is good but the practise is worn.
For up-to-date advice please check out my new site wpCop which, while niche targetting WordPress security, also covers the bases for PC, web and server security.
- risk.wpcop.com considers the risks we face
- pc.wpcop.com looks at device security techniques
- web.wpcop.com shows how to surf safely and anonymously
If you’ve got any security-related questions, pop by the the wpCop forums.
Hope that helps.
This guvGuide helps you find the level of anonymity to suit you, to take control of your identity, to enjoy faster, safer surfing and, in Part 4…
A comprehensive guide, spread over 5 posts:-
I’ve endeavoured to make this guide as comprehensive as possible; detailed, yet bulleted. But hey, if there’s something missing, you’ve got a suggestion, or a disagreement, please leave a comment below, and we’ll improve the guide. Tx.
As with cookies, as we turn our attention to measures that can help with anonymous surfing, we must each consider our online habits, our level of online experience and the degree of user experience – or interaction – that we require. This is because, if we wanted total security and no risk, we would be left with a bland, yet perhaps still fulfilling experience. On the other hand, if we threw caution to the wind, risking all, we may have an improved experience, but perhaps with dashed anonymity and, if we haven’t follows the steps in Part One, a box full of viruses.
For most, there needs to be a balance somewhere between risk and interactivity. Hopefully this guide will help you to find your balance.
Most commonly, it is employed to assist user experience, by adding user-page interaction. For instance, on Guvnr.com, it is employed:-
- to clarify website navigation; for example, highlighting the menu above as you cursor from tab to tab
- to present content in more readable chunks; for example, with the “accordion” style sections of content that you can browse between on various sections of this site
- to save you time; for example, so that when you type a phrase into the search box, there is an instant dropdown of search results, rather than you having to await a fresh page to load
- to save you time; for example, loading a panel, instantly populated by content, when you click on the “tags & categories” button in this site’s blog section, rather than you having to await a fresh page to load
- to save you time; for example, loading panels, instantly populated by content, when you click on any of the homepage links on this site, rather than you having to await a fresh page to load
Sounds cool. So what’s the risk?
- overall, it’s the most popular browser and is related to the most popular OS, Windows
- it’s the easiest to hack
Microsoft has this technology called ActiveX and, to make that more effective, IE has a few added file system commands which other browsers don’t use. These file system commands can be manipulated by an unscrupulous web developer, in rare cases, with unsavoury results. I could go on, but we’d be here all day. However, let me just say, there have been two major scares with IE7 in the last 6 months. Or was it 3? Well, it was at least more than any other browser had.
So all the other browsers are safe?
You’re having me on.
Look. Here’s the deal. This is what you have to read…
Any web browser can be exploited, potentially. Internet Explorer is widely considered, amongst the web security industry, to be the most vulnerable, for the reasons above. It’s still a difficult hit, these days, for very frequently updated browsers. And in reality, an actual attack more generally relies on the web user doing one of the following:-
- surfing for porn
- surfing for warez
- online gambling
So really, it’s about user discretion, common sense.
If you prefer to surf CNN, Barclays Bank and the Church of England, you’ll most likely be fine.
If you want to be really safe – sorry Bill – bin Internet Explorer and surf safer with an alternative browser. The safest of all is Firefox, for the simple reason that there is an add-on that can be used, called…
The NoScript Firefox Add-on
A lot of people have downloaded it. In fact, 37,884,458 people. (I just looked.)
I’ve just downloaded and installed it myself. Here’s some detail…
NoScript is easy to configure. At the bottom of my browser window, there’s a little icon which, when clicked, allows me to quickly enable scripting for the particular page. There’s an options box too, detailing, for example:-
- allow sites opened through bookmarks (favorites)
- forbid Flash (which can be damn annoying, not that it’s a threat)
- a whitelist edit box (sites to allow)
- lots more
I’m impressed. I’ll put together a guvUtorial about this plugin, but don’t wait up.
- Tools > Options > Content > Advanced to change some other settings that I wouldn’t really bother changing
Internet Explorer 7
- Tools > Internet Options > Security > Custom level > Scripting > Active scripting > [check] Disable
- … or you can [check] Prompt to be asked to allow scripts per site
Internet Explorer 6 – if you’re using that browser, you should go to Windows Update and upgrade to IE7 (or bin it altogether for Opera or Firefox!)
- Using the same method, you can also use the parameters: -disable-images, -disable-java, -disable-plugins, -disable-popup-blocking, -start-maximized
And if NoScript wasn’t available?
For the record, my advice would be:-
- swap IE for Opera, Firefox or Chrome, which are smaller security risks
- remember what Kevin Mitnick said in The Art of Deception, “…the gravest security risk of all [is] human nature.”
Nearly there! Tomorrow, in Part 5, we’ll carry out the single most important task to attain web anonymity, by setting up the proxy server. Join me for that, with a special guvUtorial video, so you can see just how easy it is to do.
Jump to another section of the anonymity guide:-