I live in Toronto, Canada, but when I travel the Internet, for all intents and purposes I live in White Plains, New York. So is this magic; do I have the power to teleport (sort of, beam me up Scotty), or have I mastered a paranormal skill?
I wish! But being in one place and appearing to be in another place on the Internet, is magic, of a sort.
I’ve been surfing the Internet since day one essentially, and during that time I’ve become increasingly concerned with protecting my privacy, and anonymity, while surfing the Internet.
If you consider this slightly paranoid behavior, well …. you’re right. But, as I’ve said here numerous times – “ …. we all need to become infected with a mild case of paranoia when using the Internet. Being paranoid, suspicious, and untrusting while surfing the web, might not make you invulnerable to malware infections or worse, but it will certainly reduce the odds enormously”.
Other than my personal concerns, there are more obvious reasons, you may have, for anonymous surfing, including – surfing in internet cafes, public terminals in libraries, or hotel business centers.
In fact, you may want to surf anonymously on any PC where you don’t want to leave traces of your private surfing activities to ensure protection from snooping web sites, annoying advertisers, employers, or curious family members.
Most typical PC users are amazed at the amount of information their browser provides to web sites they visit. For example, the information below is available to every web site I visit. I have X’d out certain parameters for privacy purposes only.
Your computer is connecting to the internet at xxxxxxx, xxxx, in the xxxx, with an IP address of 24.xxx.xxx.xxx
Your User Agent is being reported as: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:188.8.131.52) Gecko/Firefox/3.5.3
Your Referrer is being reported as: http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&client= ient=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en
Your IP Address is 24.xxx.xxx.142
Your Host Name is d2xx- xxx.xxx.xxx.cable.net
Actually, this is mild, depending on the web site, considerably more information, about you, can be captured.
Hotspot Shield, is a free solution which uses both a proxy server and encryption technology, which can increase security (particularly at off site locations), and protect your privacy as well, by effectively hiding your IP address .
According to the developers “Hotspot Shield creates a virtual private network (VPN) between your laptop or iPhone, and our Internet gateway. This impenetrable tunnel prevents snoopers, hackers, ISP’s, from viewing your web browsing activities, instant messages, downloads, credit card information or anything else you send over the network”.
Upside: I’ve been using this application for some time now, and it does exactly as it says. Despite the fact this is a proxy service, I find no slowdown in accessing sites, pages, or streaming content.
I’m satisfied with its performance – it works well, and is easily turned on/off via the system tray icon. Incidentally, Hotspot Shield was named as one of the best free applications of 2008 by PC Magazine.
Downside: This is an ad supported application and it puts banner ads on every web page that you view.
Fast facts: Ensure you are private, secure, and anonymous online!
Secure your web session, data, online shopping, and personal information online with HTTPS encryption.
Protect yourself from identity theft online.
Hide your IP address for your privacy online.
Access all content privately without censorship; bypass firewalls.
Protect yourself from snoopers at Wi-Fi hotspots, hotels, airports, corporate offices.
Works on wireless and wired connections alike. Provides Unlimited Bandwidth.
Works on the PC and the MAC, including new operating systems (Windows 7 and Snow Leopard)
Recommendation: If you’re looking for a free application which will keep your web surfing private, Hotspot Shield is definitely worth a look.
System requirements: Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows Vista, and Windows 7
Download at: Download.com
If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.