Online privacy is becoming more important by the day. And nobody is going to give it to you, you have to take steps yourself to secure it.
Below are five different tools and services that will get you started:
1. Tor Browser
Tor is a great weapon in the fight for online anonymity as it allows you to surf the web without giving up your location and other personal data to the websites you visit.
The Tor Browser Bundle is the easiest and most secure way to get started; simply download it, and start surfing the web with the Tor Browser. It’s available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Note: Tor is packaged for Debian. Use that. For Fedora, the following will work
Fedora 16/17 and EL6 packages
For Fedora 16, Fedora 17, RHEL 6 (and clones), use following repo file – substitute DISTRIBUTION with one of the following: fc/16, fc/17 or el/6 according to your distribution.
name=Tor experimental repo
name=Tor experimental source repo
The keys’s fingerprint should be (for RPM-GPG-KEY-torproject.org.asc above, yum will ask about the fingerprint):
3B9E EEB9 7B1E 827B CF0A 0D96 8AF5 653C 5AC0 01F1
Once you have the repo file, install Tor using (yum will ask about the key’s fingerprint the first time):
yum install tor
Start Tor using:
service tor start
2. Duck Duck Go
If you want privacy, don’t search with Google.
Google store all of your searches to customize ads for you, but even worse, they can hand over the whole list of searches to any government agency that are curious about what you’ve been looking at for the last couple years.
A better alternative is Duck Duck Go, a completely anonymous search engine that does not store any information about you or your searches. The search results are essentially identical to Google’s, so there’s no loss of quality.
HTTPS Everywhere is a plug-in for Firefox and Google Chrome that tries to force a website to connect in secure mode, thus encrypting your traffic with the website you are visiting. This makes your browsing more secure because it prevents eavesdropping thieves or state-mafia from intercepting your unencrypted Internet traffic.
Cryptocat is an encrypted chat that beats Facebook and Skype when it comes to security and privacy. If you want to chat in private then this is one simple solution. It’s also open source, which means you can see the full code and be sure there are no government “backdoors” built in.
Read more about and download Cryptocat here
5. Silent Circle
Silent Circle is a new player on the market, but it is founded by “old” players in the security and encryption industry. One of the founders, Phil Zimmerman, is also the creator of PGP, one of the most-used encryption platforms in the world.
Now, Tod, Cryptocat, Https everywhere and Duck Duck Go are all available as Firefox plugins. Firefox is fairly stable — at least in Linux, I don’t use Windows if there is an alternative — and should be used for must stuff.
The other reason to use Firefox for serious work is that the best free bibliographic system available — zotero — is best used as a firefox plugin — that will talk with Libreoffice or Word. And for most basic statistics, I recommend sofa statistics. If Sofa Statistics cannot solve your problem, then you need to buy a couple of books and learn R. Rkward is useful for managing datasets, but you will probably spend most time in the command line.
Unfortunately Google is useful. It plays nicely with Android (unsurprisingly) and having things like the address book in the cloud and access to google drive and games (entanglement and angry birds). And google docs is probably the best general tool we have at present for team projects. So Cinnamon is useful — because you can access the google products through it. But you need to know that everything you do is being stored there. And the NSA is not interested in your angry bird scores, but your comments at those “hate sites” listed in under politics.
As far as useful blogging tools are concerned, I find that firefox plays nicely with wordpress, and there is a plugin that works with your wordpress.com account. I find firefox a little faster than cinnamon. However, the websites look better in cinnamon.
It’s one of those balance issues. We need to not have the state poking everywhere, and the widespread use of encryption is to be encouraged. But we also need to be able to open things up when necessary. Using two browsers — one for confidential tasks, and one for collabration — makes sense.