Tagged privacy

If you haven’t signed up for a VPN service yet, you need to. I’ve been a customer of Private Internet Access for more than a year now, and the annual $40 has been more than worth it.

Here’s a quick list of what I’ve used it for:

  • Tunneling torrents through it
  • Connecting to IRC networks that don’t use SASL and/or mask your IP
  • Watching Netflix outside the US1
  • Connecting securely to public wifi

Especially that last one. Every time you sit down at a Starbucks, a public library, or anywhere with a publicly available wireless network, there could be someone listening in on your wireless transmissions. It doesn’t require much knowhow to pull off either.

Note this matters even more when you log in to websites that aren’t using a secure connection (http://). Your credentials transmit in plain text. That should scare you.

So get a VPN account, set it up, and start browsing securely.

  1. This goes both ways: sometimes you want access to the US catalog from outside the country, and sometimes you want access to another country’s catalog (e.g. Canada’s) from inside the country. 

In light of yesterday’s news about Yahoo and Do Not Track, I’m trying some new search engines out. I have DuckDuckGo as the search engine in my Firefox, and I’ve installed the DuckDuckGo app on my iPhone. Unfortunately, there’s no way to add a search engine to Safari on iOS without jailbreaking, but I’ve switched to Bing temporarily to see how well it works.

So far I really like DuckDuckGo. Its results seem to be on point, and the results are fast and all over SSL. Bing is pretty… mediocre, both in results and in design.

From Ars Technica:

Yahoo yesterday announced that it will stop complying with Do Not Track signals that Web browsers send on behalf of users who wish to not be monitored for advertising purposes.

“As of today, web browser Do Not Track settings will no longer be enabled on Yahoo,” a company blog said. “As the first major tech company to implement Do Not Track, we’ve been at the heart of conversations surrounding how to develop the most user-friendly standard. However, we have yet to see a single standard emerge that is effective, easy to use and has been adopted by the broader tech industry.”

The Do Not Track initiative works by trying to get advertising companies to promise they won’t use use the data they have for advertising… which is exactly what their business model is. Yahoo’s move isn’t a surprise at all, and they’re just doing what Google has been doing.

The only way to try to protect your privacy online is to do it yourself. Install Adblock and Ghostery at the very least. NoScript is another way, but it’s a much more extreme one. The onus is on the user, more than ever, to take privacy into their own hands.