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Internet Searches:  Not Private? (Read 37301 times)
Pleonasm
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Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Jan 24th, 2006 at 11:52am
 
CNN reports (20 JAN 2006) that Google has received a subpoena from the US Justice Department to provide “1 million random Web addresses and a list of all Google searches from any one-week period.”  Google is resisting this request, but “other, unnamed Internet search firms had agreed to turn over the requested information” to the government.

Most users don’t know that “The Internet's top four search engines, Google, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL, state in their privacy policies that they automatically record information on user searches, including Internet browser and language, computer IP addresses, unique cookie information, and the URL of the page requested.”

What’s a person to do?  Surf the web confidentially, using a tool such as Total Net Shield (https://www.anonymizer.com/consumer/products/total_net_shield/) by Anonymizer.  I have used this for about two years, and it work quite well.  Total Net Shield runs invisibly in the background, compressing and encrypting all HTTP and HTTPS communications to/from the Anonymizer proxy server which masks the user’s identity to the world.

Sources:
   http://money.cnn.com/2006/01/19/technology/google_suit/?cnn=yes
   http://www.anonymizer.com/consumer/media/press_releases/01232006.html
 
 
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Rad
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Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Reply #1 - Jan 24th, 2006 at 6:36pm
 
timely post.

i used to use a freebie anonymous web-surfing service, altho only when i really "need" to:

https://www.megaproxy.com/freesurf/

anonymizer also offers a similar product that costs only $30. (vs $100 for industrial-strength one you mention)

http://www.anonymizer.com/consumer/products/anonymous_surfing/

i bet their sales sky-rocket. might be a good time to buy stock in that company.

there's a freebie link in the top-right corner of their home page:

http://www.anonymizer.com/

they also have a free toolbar:

http://www.anonymizer.com/consumer/products/privatesurfing/download.html

UPDATE: okay, i downloaded & installed the free toolbar. it pretty much suks. too limiting, and slow.'

do you find the service slow? laggy?

they also offer a free 7-day trial download:

https://www.anonymizer.com/consumer/index.html

7 days seems kinda skimpy.

look at the picture of the guy in that link. what do you think he's watching?

which browsers are supported?
 
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MrMagoo
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Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Reply #2 - Jan 25th, 2006 at 10:00am
 
Since most home users use a dynamic IP address and most ISP's flush their DHCP records occasionally, it's not like the search engines are spying on you.  It is impossible to use any compouter anywhere without leaving tracks.  Still, I use an anonymous proxy if I'm doing something on the internet I'd like to keep to myself.
 
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Pleonasm
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Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Reply #3 - Jan 25th, 2006 at 12:55pm
 
Rad, you are correct:  the free Privacy Toolbar service offered by Anonymizer is slow.  My understanding is that the queries submitted by way of this option are placed “at the end of the queue” with paying customers receiving priority.  In years past, Anonymizer inserted a random delay when using the free service, although I don’t know if this is still their practice.

In contrast, Total Net Shield is not slow.  In fact, on a subjective basis, it appears to actually speed the Internet connection by about 5% to 10% - despite the fact that my Internet traffic is passing through the Anonymizer proxy server.  The only explanation I can offer is that Total Net Shield not only encrypts all client/server traffic, but also first compresses it before transmission.  I suspect that doing so yields a higher effective bandwidth.

Total Net Shield is independent of the browser.  The company says “Anonymizer software will work with any browser except AOL.”

The less expensive Anonymous Surfing product by Anonymizer hides your IP address – but unlike Total Net Shield – it does not encrypt the contents of Internet traffic to/from your PC.  Thus, someone could still intercept your Internet communication packets and monitor your activity.

Anonymizer offers a free fourteen day trial period for Total Net Shield.  Personally, I encourage everyone to try it.  As a US$100/year subscription service, it is not inexpensive – but, that equates to about a quarter of coin per day:  quite a value, from my vantage point.

* * * * * * * * * *

MrMagoo, I agree that there is no need to be “paranoid” about the Internet search engines spying on you.  However, there is also no reason not to take reasonable precautions to ensure your privacy.  If protecting your Internet privacy was very complicated or if doing so had some other significant disadvantage, then there might be a reason to ignore the issue.  But, a few simple steps – like using Total Net Shield or a similar product – solves the problem.  So why not be confident about the confidentiality of your Internet usage?

Additionally, of course, it is also wise to erase (and not just delete) the history and traces of your Internet activity on your PC.  There are many tools in this realm.  Personally, I use the CyberScrub Privacy Suite (http://www.cyberscrub.com/products/privacysuite/index.php) to accomplish the objective.

* * * * * * * * * *

If a user has nothing to hide or to be ashamed about in using the Internet, then is there any reason to mask one’s identity?  I would answer “yes!.”  Privacy is a fundamental human right, and we ought to guard, protect and nurture it “just because” it is the right thing to do.

P.S.:  Rad, maybe this thread merits “sticky status” on the forum for a while, so as to raise awareness of these concerns among the readership?
 
 
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Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Reply #4 - Jan 25th, 2006 at 1:41pm
 
Pleonasm

Who is to prevent the US Justice Department from subpoenaing the records for the Anonymizer proxy server?

Unless they delete all records and thoroughly wipe their memory after each usage--will there not be a record of the connection between you and the proxy server--the two systems do have to communicate with each other--so IP addresses must be used and *linked*?

I'm not familiar with using Anonymizer--but, it seems it only shields you when online--but, will have a record of the internal interactions between you and the sever--Yes/No?
 

No question is stupid...but, possibly the answers are Wink !&&
 
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Pleonasm
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Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Reply #5 - Jan 25th, 2006 at 2:37pm
 
Good observations, NightOwl.

When using an anonymous proxy server to mask your Internet identity, it is essential that the provider of the anonymous proxy server be trustworthy.  Otherwise, you have simply substituted one problem (e.g., an ISP or search engine “snoop”) for another (i.e., a proxy server “snoop”).  For example, there are many free public anonymous proxy servers available.  The difficulty, of course, is that you don’t know whether such servers are protecting your privacy, or whether they are a vehicle for compromising your privacy.  If the proxy server is logging and monitoring your Internet traffic, you have caused more harm than good.

I don’t want to appear to be posting a commercial for Anonymizer, but they are the oldest and the largest firm providing privacy solutions for consumers and corporations.  That does not guarantee their trustworthiness, of course, but it makes it highly likely.

In conversation with technical support at Anonymizer (which, by the way, is excellent), I learned that Anonymizer does not write any of the Internet traffic that passes through its servers to disk:  everything is processed in memory.  With millions of customers, the chances that one specific Internet trace would exist for any meaningful duration is minuscule.  A government agency could in theory demand that Anonymizer provide its records; in practice, however, Anonymizer has no records to provide because of how it runs its own operation.

It might help the reader of this thread to explain a bit about how an anonymous proxy server works.  Using a telephone analogy, let’s say that Abe wanted to request information from Charles.  If Abe calls Charles directly, then Charles can easily know the identity of the caller.  Alternatively, Abe can accomplish his objective in an indirect manner.  Abe can call his trusted friend Bob, who then places Abe on-hold, picks up a different telephone line, calls Charles, gets the requested information, hangs-up with Charles, picks-up the telephone with Abe, and then provides Abe with the desired information.  From the perspective of Abe, the net result is the same in either case:  he gets the information he requested.  However, in the latter situation, Charles can’t possibly know that it is Abe requesting the information, since Charles only communicates with Bob.  To complete the analogy, substitute “PC user” for Abe, “anonymous proxy server” for Bob, and “website” for Charles – that’s how it works.  Now imagine that there are thousands of such simultaneous conversations occurring, all mediated by the anonymous proxy server (“Bob”):  in this many-to-many mapping, there is logically no method to “link” or associate the requestor (“Abe”) of the information with the provider (“Charles”).

NightOwl, I’m unclear what you intended when you asked, “… Anonymizer … seems it only shields you when online”.  Yes, the entire function of Total Net Shield is to mask the identity and the contents (using encryption) of your Internet communications – thus, it is a “online” solution.  Total Net Shield (once installed and configured) operates seamlessly in the background, so there is no repetitive login, start-up, or other “hassle” involved.  Just launch your browser, and surf the Internet as you normally do with confidence in your confidentiality.  I recommend that you test the product yourself, which can be cancelled in fourteen days if not satisfied.

P.S.:  To see your own IP address and its Internet connection routing, visit http://network-tools.com/.
 
 
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Pleonasm
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Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Reply #6 - Jan 25th, 2006 at 5:01pm
 
A reader of this thread might be interested in Scroogle (http://www.scroogle.org/), a “Google scraper” search engine that works like Google but doesn’t track the user.

Also visit the “Google Watch” organization (http://www.google-watch.org/) which monitors Google’s privacy actions.
 
 
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Rad
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Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Reply #7 - Jan 25th, 2006 at 6:19pm
 
Stick-i-fied.
 
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Pleonasm
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Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Reply #8 - Jan 30th, 2006 at 5:04pm
 
Interested readers of this thread may also wish to look at the Microsoft article “How to Clear the Windows Paging File at Shutdown” (Article ID 314834).  The document describes a registry tweak to force Windows to erase “the Windows paging file (Pagefile.sys) during the shutdown process, so that no unsecured data is contained in the paging file when the shutdown process is complete.”  In the absence of so doing, “third-party programs can temporarily store unencrypted (plain-text) passwords or other sensitive information in memory” that could be retrieved.

I have used this feature of Windows for about two years with no issues.  The only disadvantage is that it increases the time it takes to shutdown the PC.

Reference:  http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=314834
 
 
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Pleonasm
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Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Reply #9 - Feb 1st, 2006 at 7:13pm
 
Anonymizer deserves a medal for its actions to protect privacy . . .

Quote:
ANONYMIZER TO PROVIDE CENSOR-FREE INTERNET TO CHINA
Free anti-censorship program scheduled to launch by end of quarter.

San Diego, Calif. February 1, 2006

Anonymizer® Inc., the leader in online identity protection technology and software solutions, today announced that the company is developing a new anti-censorship solution that will enable Chinese citizens to safely access the entire Internet filter-free, and also free from oppression and fear of persecution or retribution. This new program expands upon Anonymizer's history of human rights efforts which provide a censor-free Internet experience for those in oppressed nations.

Anonymizer's new anti-censorship solution for Chinese citizens will be available before quarter's end. The solution will provide a regularly changing URL that users can access to open the doors to unfettered access of the World Wide Web. In addition, users' identities will be protected from online tracking and monitoring by the Chinese government.

"Anonymizer is not willing to sit idly by while the freedom of the Internet is slowly crushed," commented Lance Cottrell, president and chief scientist, Anonymizer Inc. "We take pride in the fact that our online privacy and security solutions provide access to global information for those under the thumb of repressive regimes."

The communist government has taken a hard line against freedom of the press and access to information on the Internet. Google and others have been forced into a box by the Chinese government's strict requirements, but Anonymizer stands firm on the issue of protecting civil liberties. The company has been protecting basic liberties for more than a decade. It enabled safe Internet communications for families split on either side of the Kosovo conflict; it was used previously by the Voice of America to ensure that news Web sites were not blocked by the Communist government in China. Anonymizer also works in conjunction with the Voice of America today to bring safe Internet access to Iranian citizens.

Source:  http://www.anonymizer.com/consumer/media/press_releases/02012006.html
 
 
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Pleonasm
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Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Reply #10 - Feb 2nd, 2006 at 2:02pm
 
The following is a listing of resources related to the anonymous use of the Internet.

Quote:
Here are some current proxy services which make anonymous surfing possible:
    * Cotse
http://www.cotse.net/
    * The Cloak
http://www.the-cloak.com/anonymous-surfing-home.html
    * Anonymizer
http://www.anonymizer.com/
    * IDzap
http://freeregister.idzap.com/register.php
    * Mega Proxy
http://www.megaproxy.com/
    * @nonymous
http://nonymouse.com/
    * Guardster
http://www.guardster.com/
    * Proxy Web
http://www.proxyweb.net/
    * SnoopBlocker
http://www.snoopblocker.com/
    * Proxify
http://proxify.com/
    * Bitesize Work
http://www.antiblock.tk/
    * proxy spinner
http://www.metaspinner-media.de/mdsme/mdsme-docs/proxy.shtml
    * The Virtual Browser
http://www.thevirtualbrowser.com/
    * NoMoreLimits
http://www.nomorelimits.net/

Anonymous Web Proxy Server Lists
These websites maintain frequently updated lists of anonyous proxy
servers on the Internet.
    * http://www.anonymitychecker.com/
    * http://tools.rosinstrument.com/proxy/
    * http://www.atomintersoft.com/products/alive-proxy/proxy-list/
    * http://www.findproxy.com/index.html
    * http://www.cybersyndrome.net/pla.html
    * http://www.multiproxy.org/anon_list.htm
    * http://www.proxz.com/
    * http://www.publicproxyservers.com/page1.html
    * http://www.proxy4free.com/page1.html
    * http://www.stayinvisible.com/
    * http://www.samair.ru/proxy/
http://www.tech-faq.com/anonymous-surfing.shtml

Anonymous Browsing Quick-Start Page, includes search boxes for:
Anonymizer
Guardster
ProxyOne
ProxyWeb
SnoopBlocker
WebWarper
ProxySpinner
PinkBanana
Anonymouse
ChronicPulse
Proxify
http://www.space.net.au/~thomas/quickbrowse.html

URL Encoder (no ads)
http://www.urlencoded.com/

Anonycat Web Proxy
http://anonycat.com/

Anonymouse
http://anonymouse.org/

Go Proxy
http://www.goproxing.com/

Mr. Privacy
http://www.misterprivacy.com/begin_anonymous_surfing.htm

Proxy7
http://www.proxy7.com/

My Shield
http://www.myshield.com/

Proxy MXDS
http://proxy.mxds.ch/

Pure Privacy
http://www.pureprivacy.com/

RRDB
http://www.rrdb.org/rrdbproxy.php?l=en

Shadow Browser
http://www.shadowbrowser.com/

WebWarper
http://webwarper.net/

. . .

The Cloak
https://www.the-cloak.com/login.html

Proxify
https://proxify.com/

ProxyOne
https://www.proxyone.com/engine/freeproxy.php

ProxyWeb
https://www.proxyweb.net/

SnoopBlocker
https://www.snoopblocker.com/

My Shield
https://www.myshield.com/

Shadow Browser
https://www.shadowbrowser.com/

Guardster
Encrypted SSL Proxy Subscription
http://www.guardster.com/

Practical Privacy Guide:Anonymous Surfing
Method #1: Anonymizer
"pay service allows FTP and HTTPS"
http://www.all-nettools.com/privacy/anon.htm

Source:  http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=566720

The caution stated in Reply #5 in this thread is worth reviewing before using any anonymous service or product.
 
 
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Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Reply #11 - Feb 2nd, 2006 at 5:17pm
 
I've been using Proxomitron for some time now which can help.  Also, some firewalls now have some sort of web blocking and referral settings.
 
 
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Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Reply #12 - Feb 2nd, 2006 at 8:14pm
 
Pleonasm

Quote:
I'm not familiar with using Anonymizer
--but, it seems it only shields you when online--but,
will (Anonymizer) have a record of the internal interactions between you and the sever--Yes/No?


Quote:
NightOwl, I’m unclear what you intended when you asked, “… Anonymizer … seems it only shields you when online”.

What I was asking is if Anonymizer keeps a transaction record on its server of your interactions with Anonymizer--If *yes*, then the government can subpoena those records.

Using your *telephone analogy*:

trusted friend *Bob* (Anonymizer) knows that *Abe* asked for information from *Charles*.

The government now gives Bob *truth serum* (a subpoena) and Bob now reveals that Abe wanted information from Charles--and what information was requested!

Now if *trusted friend Bob* has a *short term memory* problem and cant remember anything after the finish of the transaction of delivering the requested information from Charles to Abe--then the *truth serum* will not be a problem, being as Bob no longer remembers!!!!

Is that how Anonymizer works?  Does Anonymizer keep *no* records of any transactions made through it's server?

Or, does it just make you *anonomous* while online--but a record is kept on its server of what you requested and from whom?

Does that make sense?
 

No question is stupid...but, possibly the answers are Wink !&&
 
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Pleonasm
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Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Reply #13 - Feb 2nd, 2006 at 8:55pm
 
NightOwl, Anonymizer maintains no log or history file of the user's interaction with its proxy server.  As described in Reply #5, however, a trace of a user's interaction might exist for a brief duration in memory before being overwritten by another entry – a function of the total amount of traffic passing through the server at one time.  Stated differently, Anonymizer does not systematically retain user interactions.  To continue the telephone analogy, "Bob" does indeed suffer from a "short-term memory deficit."

The caution that you are raising is a good one, NightOwl, and it corresponds what I was attempting to communicate in Reply #5 when I wrote about the dangers of using an anonymous proxy server run by a company or individual whose trustworthiness is unknown or uncertain.  If "Bob" didn't suffer from a "short-term memory deficit," then "Abe's" interaction would still be anonymous to "Charles," but the confidentiality of the "telephone conversation" would be partially compromised because "Bob" would know and remember who you "called" and when.

Another facet of the telephone analogy that I didn't include is this:  "Abe" and "Bob" are talking on a secure telephone line, which precludes anyone from listening to their conversation.  Total Net Shield by Anonymizer encrypts all of the traffic (HTTP and HTTPS) that passes to and from your PC, and in this way prevents your ISP (or anyone else) from intercepting and examining the transmissions.

A critical fact to consider is this:  you simply don't know if anyone is "snooping" on your Internet communications.  Maybe it's not occurring.  Or maybe it is.  You just don't know.  At a minimal cost, however, Total Net Shield provides confidence that your activities are private and confidential.  I encourage you to give it a try.
 
 
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NightOwl-
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Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Reply #14 - Feb 3rd, 2006 at 1:44am
 
Pleonasm

I'm trying to recall--you sign on here as a *Guest* because you do not wish to report an email address to the forum registration process--is that correct?

Or does Anonymizer somehow prevent you from signing on as a *Member*?

More generally, will Anonymizer prevent one from accessing websites where you have an account name and password, or does the masked IP address and encryption have no effect on such issues?
 

No question is stupid...but, possibly the answers are Wink !&&
 
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