I recently came across an article about the Tor network: The Tor system: Welcome to the dark internet where you can search in secret
“The Tor Project, a non-profit…exists with the objective of making anonymous web-surfing mainstream…(for) people who have increasing concerns over how their personal information is used. These are innocent family people who are not guilty of anything. [They use Tor] because they don’t want themselves or family followed around by councils or the police.“
Legislators, self-appointed censors, and others who want to restrict, monitor or ban certain online activities claim that there are Internet/Web users who abuse secure systems for criminal purposes. I would argue you could say the same thing about guns, knives or baseball bats, yet legitimate, law-abiding citizens of many countries carry with them guns, knives or baseball bats or have them in their homes.
There are many very easy technology solutions for people who want some added assurance that every click they make on the Internet is not being monitored or is a bit more secure from prying eyes. Some of these solutions are Tor, HTTPS Everywhere and DoNotTrackMe.
Let us start with Tor:
Tor software “protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network…it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.”
What is the Tor Browser Bundle? Where can I get it, and How does it work?
The Tor Browser Bundle is software that works, according to their website, “on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux without needing to install any software. It can run off a USB flash drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained.”
ONLY download and install the Tor Browser Bundle (TBB). The instructions are given in text, video and screenshots. Browse them carefully before you start. THEN read carefully the full list of items under “Want Tor to really work?”
“You need to change some of your habits, as some things won’t work exactly as you are used to.”
Once TBB is installed, and before you run it the first time, restart your computer. Do not open any of your Internet/Web apps such as your email or web browser. THEN open the Tor Browser Bundle. You will be using the world-wide Tor Network for deeper security and anonymity. Tor is “industrial strength” web browsing, however, you do not always need it to enhance the security of your browsing experience.
For example; the “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) helps to “secure communication over a computer network, with especially wide deployment on the Internet.” Web browsers do not usually use HTTPS unless a web site specifically demands it such as a bank or government web site. It is a good idea to use HTTPS at all times to make for more secure browsing.
With HTTPS in mind, consider installing another good security application called HTTPS Everywhere, which forces “the use of HTTPS encryption with major websites that support it.” HTTPS Everywhere is an extension for Firefox and Chrome web browsers.
How does it work and why do I need it?
Answers to these questions can be found on their FAQ page.
Firefox or Chrome web browsers are considered by many to be more secure than Internet Explorer for Windows or Safari for Macintosh. It is always a good idea to have at least two web browsers available for use since the same web sites may sometimes be seen differently with different browsers.
Firefox Web Browser:
Firefox is found at their download and install page.
After you download and install Firefox open the HTTPS Everywhere web site. Click on the Install in Firefox link and allow the browser to install the extension. You should then restart Firefox for HTTPS Everywhere to be active.
Google Chrome Web Browser:
The Google Chrome download and how-to install web site.
Install HTTPS Everywhere in Chrome at the Google Chrome website. Click on the green Add to Chrome install button in the upper right corner.
Since Internet Explorer is considered unsafe for secure web browsing, it is not recommended you use it for any reason. There is a version of HTTPS Everywhere for IE if you absolutely insist upon using it.
DoNotTrackMe is another very good extension to have for online privacy. “DoNotTrackMe automatically blocks all tracking requests made by the websites you’re visiting. DNTMe also blocks annoying pop up ads, and loads certain websites up to 4 times faster.” (Read their website for more details.)
Where can you get DoNotTrackMe?
Their Free Download page has a button in the upper right hand corner. Click it and it will start to install on your browser. You may need to restart your browser for it to work.