What about computer privacy?

Actually information about you could be found, there are plenty of people who act professionally as internet detectives and for a fee find out everything there is to know about someone based on what they do online, trust me it’s pretty easy to do (especially when people know what to look for or are willing to pay for information), you would be supprised how much information you can find about people if you read between the lines on their publically available websites, especially people who use social networking websites and personal blogs. As for your lack of doubt that people would do lookups on exactly who you are it has become common practice for potential employers (even potential boy/girlfriends) to check out a person on the web based on what they know to see what kind of person they are.

The point of privacy you seem to be overlooking is that if a paedophile can find out where a 14 year old lives from reading their online activities (which seems to be happening on a more frequent basis than ever before) then it could quite easily happen to the rest of us. To round things off I will leave you with the thought that there are plenty of people who want to find out information about individuals either to sell or exploit, while most people are either ignorant of privacy or simply don’t care (because they realise exactly how hard it is to control information on the web) if you really believe that you are anonymous on the web, you are quite nieve.

Thanks Topunit but what if I want to remove for instance… all tracks from Adobe Reader or from WinZip? What about Windows tracks? Or the tracks of the countless programs on my computer?

AlexDawson, I’m quite naive too. :frowning:

It does not really matter if you are the nieve sort of person, just as long as you are aware of the risk factors and take basic precautions such as only putting things online if you expect other people to see them (no matter where they are going). The web is a big public area and if you don’t want people to know about it, dont broadcast it, it’s supprising how much people give out on the web over a period of time! :slight_smile:

All you can do is improve your privacy to keep as private as you can.
IMHO if you sign up for sites such as facebook and such you lose your privacy since you expose yourself in a webpage to the entire world.

Privacy is a very serious issue to me, which is why I’ve built quite an arsenal of software over the years to address the issues raised here. If you’re extremely careful, it is possible to sever the link between your online personae and yourself (before you start to go snooping on me to get my information and prove me wrong, know that I don’t really classify Sitepoint as a place where I need to be anonymous :p)

Here’s what you can do to make a private “bunker” for activities where you would prefer to remain anonymous:

The first thing that you need is some Virtual Machine software with snapshot capability (VMWare comes to mind). Set up a clean install of an operating system of your choice. Make sure that you completely update the system, and install a firewall with HIPS technology (such as Comodo). Set all of your defenses to high.

Next you need to seed the system with the proper software. Start by installing the most recent version of Firefox. Turn off history, the cache, password remembering, etc. Set cookies to delete on browser shutdown. Install these addons:

  • Adblock Plus
  • BetterPrivacy
  • Controle de Scripts
  • FormFox
  • Greasemonkey
    [list]
  • Meta refresh blocker Greasemonkey script
    [/list]
  • IDND
  • IsAdmin
  • Locationbar2
  • NoScript
  • RefControl
  • X-Forwarded-For Spoofer

Configure all of them to be as anal as possible (if you don’t know what options to set, you really shouldn’t be doing any of this in the first place).

Install TOR with the Torbutton Firefox extension. Do not apply any speedup scripts to TOR if you want anonymity.

Take a snapshot of the VM. Set the software to revert to the snapshot on every shutdown. Make sure that whenever a new Windows, TOR, or Firefox patch is released, you install it in the VM and take a new snapshot.

If you’re REALLY anal, you can set the VM to bridged mode and insert a Linux gateway between your system and the Internet. Then, set firewall rules to only allow access to the TOR nodes via the guest system. This would involve updating the list of TOR nodes by hand in your Linux gateway whenever you get a connection timeout (ouch!)

If done correctly, this will completely eliminate all web profiling software. It will mask your IP address from the website owner. It will leave your ISP powerless to supply any information. I can’t stress this enough: these tools are worthless if you don’t fully understand what they do.

There are only three failure points in this system:

  1. If your VM manages to get infected with a virus, you may be compromised until you shut it down. If you actually did set up the Linux gateway, then this failure point only applies to a specifically targeted virus (you must be doing something really, really bad if this bites you). Also, if your VM software has an exploit, this virus could potentially break free.
  2. If the TOR network is ever compromised, the system will fail. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, but it’s probably the weakest point.
  3. Physical compromises. You can use a quantum cryptography anonymity network from 2086; it doesn’t matter if some guy is watching you through your window! :lol:

Nothing is ever bulletproof, but it can sure come close! :wink:

See, I can understand why some people would want to do that, but to me it just seems extremely paranoid, and not worth it.

You can never leave your ISP powerless to supply information, since you have an account with them, they control your connection, and they know who you are.

To Tarh - man you are so inside that privacy subject that you impress me. Thanks, I appreciate it.

Right. What I meant was, you can leave your ISP powerless to supply any useful information. :wink:

My guess , im not sure about it , the only way to complete erase anything you do when you are surfing and whatever you have in your pc , is destroying the hard drive , we see this in 24 and i think is the only way , im not talking about anything data you may left in other sites . What do you guys think ?

If you’re talking about making data unrecoverable from a hard drive, the accepted standard is to write patterns of bits over the data seven times (to cover all the cluster tips). There are simple and free programs which will erase files for you that way, instead of the standard Windows delete (which just marks those bits as unused).

However, if you go to a forum and type in your name then some data about you (name and IP address) are on two computers, erasing data from your own hard drive wouldn’t completely solve the problem.

I once saw a hacker who took a picture through pc cam and posted on internet somewhere. Of course, the guy in the picture never knew that someone was taking the pic in his underwear…funny as hell.

This is a good topic as I’m starting a new school program that focuses in “Information Security”. I think this will be even more hotter topic and $$$$ job down the road.

Well :slight_smile: better use some magnificent program like Mil Shield or Webroot Washer. They really clean everything. Destroying the hard is not a decision :frowning: but it sounds funny.

Oh Hell… dont tell me bro… I am unplugging my cam :wink:

You may be interested to learn about ClickJacking. :slight_smile:

There are always some privacy issues completely out of our hands. For months after I was looking for work there were various companies I had never contacted sending me emails containing random junk mixed in with personal details ripped directly from my CV.

It’s very frustrating when those who you have to trust just sell you out. :mad:

you could use a proxy, i think

If you ask me, i would say ‘it is not possible’. you can do it if you don’t use internet, but once you are connected you are sharing.

I still think that the computer or internet privacy is possible thing but it’s really sophisticated subject and also very interesting.

This is something everybody wants to have privacy. But once your online there is no privacy and that is a fact.