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How to Keep Your Data Private and Browse the Internet Anonymously

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 (5:00 am) - Score 73,263

At this point we need to mention security because a malicious individual could potentially abuse the proxy they run to gather data about what you’re doing online, so make sure not to enter bank details over an untrustworthy free solution. Likewise many webmasters distrust people who register on their site via a proxy server (Proxies are often used by spammers and trolls too), so don’t be surprised if you end up being banned just for that.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

VPN’s effectively operate like a network within a network. They use public telecommunications infrastructure, such as the internet, to provide individual users with secure/encrypted access to an organization’s network. Remote workers often use VPN’s to connect with their office network while at home and multiplayer gamers can also use it to create a kind of virtual Local Area Network (LAN) between friends over the internet.

But, not unlike a Proxy Server, VPN’s also make for an excellent tool when somebody wants go online and surf the internet anonymously or gain access to UK content/services while outside of the country (alternatively you could use one to access content in other countries, such as Hulu in the USA). While connected through a third party VPN your real connection details would remain almost completely hidden from view and any activity is usually encrypted.

A VPN is normally easy to connect with (i.e. the ‘Network and Sharing Centre’ under Windows Vista/7), often requiring just a username, password and vpn server name (“Domain“). A mix of both free and paid (commercial) solutions can be found online, although there are many different types and they don’t all work in the same way.

windows 7 vpn settings

Most free solutions are slow and quite restrictive, although even some paid services have similar problems. Check the VPN’s usage allowances and maximum speeds very closely as both could hinder your performance and flexibility. A few of the better known services are listed below (unordered).







Anchor Free

At this point it’s worth mentioning that some web-based VPN’s still suffer from a flaw that can expose your IP address unless you disable IPv6 in Windows Vista/7. For example, this affects those who use IPv6 in combination with PPTP-based VPN’s like Ipredator or Relakks. The OpenVPN standard is not believed to be affected. For additional security we’d also recommend changing your ISPs DNS servers (as mentioned earlier).

General Advice

It’s a good idea to avoid downloading and installing Java (i.e. for runtime java web applications) unless you need it, which is not to be confused with the standard JavaScript that a lot of websites use for performing basic functions (supported at default by most browsers). Most people don’t need Java Runtimes anymore and they are usually an optional install.

Sadly some Java based web applications will grab a lot of personal data from your system and the runtimes can even be exploited, unless you keep them updated (usually enabled by default), by malicious websites to install viruses or other nasty malware. Many malicious Trojan and phishing attacks use Java apps as a means to invade computer systems.

Likewise it’s a good idea to avoid installing unfamiliar third-party browser plugins, unless absolutely needed, and especially browser toolbars. Both can leak your personal data and toolbars are notorious for doing it. Just avoid them. Your browser will normally run faster without the extra bloat anyway.

Leave a Comment
9 Responses
  1. Avatar DM says:

    while these are good tips, i just googled my real name today and found my home address in the first page of results from an online electoral roll website (i dont have a twitter or facebook account)

    so be careful what you sign up for under your real name

    1. Avatar Adrian Hawkins says:

      That means that you have allowed your name to be placed on the unedited electoral roll, read the form you fill in more closely and tick the correct box.

  2. Avatar Adrian Hawkins says:

    OpenDNS are now trialing DNSCrypt, I have the beta running on my PC, basically it encrypts DNS so others cannot read what you are visiting.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Is there any performance impact to doing that Adrian?

  3. Avatar Adrian Hawkins says:

    Hi Mark, there are 2 “modes” , as I use it I see no difference whatever. You can run with DNSCrypt and have it fall back to insecure DNS or set up with DNSCRypt over TCP/Port 143 which can slow things a little. They recommend the latter for public outlets, Starbucks etc.

    The system is available for Windows, Linux, Mac and BSD. It’s worth a try,if you don’t like it/feel any benefit it’s easy to remove.

  4. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

    Yeah going to do that, any extra bit of security is good when browsing over a public network.

  5. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

    Similarly another simple way to avoid ISP based censorship/filtering is to install the Opera website browser and then enable its remote compression/cache system – Turbo Mode. This serves the pages through Opera’s servers and, thanks to compression, the ISP isn’t able to detect the compressed version of site as being blocked.

  6. Avatar Bypass bebo says:

    Unblock facebook/youtube/bebo by using proxy0.net

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