Online privacy & security

Internet-SecurityI mentioned in an earlier post about the whole thing to stay anonymous on the Internet. I had to learn a lot along the way, and sometimes I think I know more than I care to about the whole subject. But it is what it is.

I did decide to make this post about online privacy and security because I know that a lot of my friends don’t have the time or the patience to find out about it. So maybe this will help them some.

I think back about 5 years and while there were the creeps that showed up on posts and comments, the average poster wasn’t too worried about the hackers and data thieves because that was for corporations and government agencies to worry about. I think it’s hilarious that someone was spying on the American government and corporations while they were spying on us. Maybe they should take care of their own affairs first before sticking their faces in our business.

Anyway, now everyone has to worry about everyone else when trying to keep their identity safe. If you are going down this road, then you want to do it as cheap as possible because you might be wasting your money getting protection or buying anonymity that you don’t need.

I think history shows that when it comes to basic security, Apple has a much better record than Windows. But if you’re stuck with Windows, you need to get some good quality anti-virus software. Before you go out and buy anything, check with your Internet provider because they might supply it as a free download and it is just as good as what you buy off the shelf. Just make sure to keep it up to date.

It doesn’t matter if you are an Apple or Windows user; a VPN is well worth the price. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and what it does is to run your location through 100 other servers, making it really hard to find out your connection address or IP address as the techies call it.

Not all the threats to invade your anonymity and privacy come from those we think of as bad guys. If you have a Gmail account or use Google+ there is a lot of information being collected about you through cookies. Google cookies are everywhere on your computer. Check it out and find out for yourself. From what I read, the email messages and attachments become the property of Google after 6 months, so they can sell the information to whoever is willing to pay for it. That personal message you went to your mom has your email address, her email address, and the subject matter of whatever you discussed. You don’t get a free email address and gigabytes of storage for free. It’s an illusion.

Google is an easy target, but many of the free email boxes such as Yahoo are also collecting your personal information.

The answer I found is to see if there are email boxes you can get that will guarantee the privacy of your information because you are paying for it. Just because you pay for an email box does not mean your privacy is guaranteed, so check it out first. Paying for a web hosting service that has email boxes available is another route you may want to take to ensure your privacy.

Before I end this post, I want you to know that many browsers have what they call “private browsing” which is a special browser window that does not store cookies or your browsing history on your computer. But your Internet service provider still keeps a record, so the reality is the private browser window only makes you feel safe and secure.

I know, it’s a pain. Who can you trust anymore to give you an anonymous presence on the Internet?

Anonymous expression online

anonymous computerBefore this whole NSA thing, the Target data breach, and now I find out that there are hackers who can lock down your computer with a password only they know, I was happy going online. I am a poster girl. Not that kind if poster girl. I like to post on the major news sites like Yahoo!, CNN, and MSN. Now I am rethinking putting my identity out there for all to see.

I also like my anonymity and privacy. Think of it as a dressing room. Whatever I am doing in there is my business, no one else’s. When it comes to my online activity, privacy is number one. People hacking into my computer or tracing me through cookies or add-ons is just creepy. But the thing is, I still like to post online. It’s just that I have to be extra careful. It’s a girl thing, you know? I am a woman. I want my voice to be heard as a woman. Just because the government is being creepy doesn’t mean I have to give up my gender identity or my First Amendment rights.

Truth is, I am sick of it. So I decided to start this blog and express my opinions whether anyone likes it or not. I’m independent that way. I can hide my virtual self in a number of ways, limiting any crap from the government and avoid being targeted by any number of special interest or advocacy groups. I think these advocacy groups target women to join more than men. Don’t ask me why I feel that way. I have very strong opinions about some things and realize what I say isn’t going to sit well with everyone.

You have to realize that this approach also has its downside. I have been virtually spayed. Instead of “I am woman” I now have become “I am anyman.” There is a good possibility that any good ideas I have will be lost in virtual reality. And considering the hackers and data thieves out there, all doing it for money, there is a better chance that someone will use my ideas to “generate income.” Yeah, right.
Off my ideas. That thought gets me PO’d at times, but personally I don’t think it’s worth the risk of exposing myself to these same people.

I thought about changing my mind and putting my real identity out there. If I do that, and obviously a lot of people do that if you look at Facebook, Twitter, and a lot of others, then my personal info is out there for potential employers to look at. I have read the horror stories. No thanks. Add them to the government who is always trying to look up my dress and it just doesn’t seem right. Or safe.

Then there are those “Instacheck” database services that you pay to get the dirt on your friends or potential boyfriend. Of course, if they’re popular you can always go to TMZ. But the information they provide is neither guaranteed to be accurate nor up to date. If they put something out there about me that is false, I can’t undo it in the minds of whoever reads it. The damage to your image is done and possibly your reputation as well.

At the beginning of this I mentioned the newest fad among the creeps who lockdown your computer with a password they only know. What I didn’t mention is they hold your computer for a ransom payment. Pay up and you get your computer back. Maybe. Who’s to say they can’t get at the contents of your computer? If you pay the ransom by credit card, they have your credit card number. It seems like a lose-lost situation.

My number one goal is to be financially successful. These lazy, international losers who decide they want to live off my hard work don’t deserve one dollar of my hard earned money. This is very important to me right now, and in the big picture I think there is too much risk to put my face out there.

OK. I agree. There are trade-offs I am making. I have thought about it too much. The more I think about it, the more I think I worry too much. If that’s possible. For now, I am willing to make the trade-offs to keep my name off the grid. Right now it seems to be well worth it.