Why are you reading this? It’s because you have visited this website to find out information on survival, disaster prep or to do some product research. Chances are you are reading this from a computer or smart phone which in turn you may leave this website and go buy something with said device or store private information on it. My goal is to inform you on steps you can take to help protect your privacy as well as some not so common precautions you can adopt to remain anonymous while navigating your way to the latest prep gadget on the web.
I relish in my privacy. I like to think I am in control of all things me. But the internet, it’s a digital savior while it spins its villain mustache in the dark corners of the world wide web. Let’s take facebook for example. Do you have a profile picture of yourself on it? Are you using your real name? Seems harmless enough right? I was at a security summit last year and I watched a demonstration of emerging software that can crawl through facebook while also crawling through thousands upon thousands of widely available court and municipal databases and other free online resources and compile a list containing a profile of your personal information right down to your SSN#? It was accomplished by using the profile picture on a facebook account coupled with face scanning technology. Go ahead and google it. When you apply a picture to your profile picture on facebook you are allowing the people at facebook to do whatever they want with it. Each one of us needs to decide what is an acceptable loss of privacy is to us and if we can live with that knowledge about us being in the ether. Simple solution, do not use a picture of yourself on your facebook profile.
How about general web surfage? Try this out. Go to your browser and delete all your history and cookie. Now go to facebook or any news website and pay attention to the advertisements you are presented with. Now go to amazon and start searching for ham radios. Search for as much as you can for 5-10 minutes. Now go back to facebook and see if the advertisements you are presented with have changed. I bet they have. As you surf the web you leave tracks that can be followed to and from where you have been. This can be avoided a few ways. Private browsing can stop surfing info from being saved to your pc. With Internet explorer this can be activated by clicking on tools, then “InPrivate browsing”. Same thing with firefox or chrome. My personal favorite is a program called Tor Park. This is an anonymous browser that allows you to, well, surf anonymously. Not only does it provide a cloak for your surfing but it can proxy your connection to make the internet think your connection is coming from somewhere in Russia or Europe. I prefer Istanbul (Not Constantinople). You can even load the Tor program onto a jump drive and plug it into any PC and run the browser from thumb drive. This way any files related to your surfing will be saved to the jump drive and not the machine you surfed from. More info about it can be seen here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XB_Browser
Finally I’d like to talk about that wireless connection you are using at your house to connect to this article. The very first thing and most important step to take in securing it should be to change the default username and password used to access the router. This is typically Admin:Admin or Admin:Password. These credentials are the first line of defense in protecting your network. Need an example? Go to www.shodanhq.com Remember that mustache twirling villain I spoke about earlier? This is where he hangs out. Let try something fun and disturbing. Go to the search bar and type in webcam. Basically what shodan is doing is sniffing the interwebs for open or unsecure ports and services on your computer or servers instead of looking for webpages like google.. I have been able to connect to webcams from all over the globe ranging from traffic cameras, repair shop security cameras even personal homes and day cares! All this can be avoided by changing default usernames and passwords. Lastly, I recommend hiding your wireless signal. In most home or small business wireless routers once you connect to them you can look for an option that says “disable SSID broadcast”. This just means you are not going to be able to see your wireless connection when you do a search for access points in the area. This does not mean it can’t be seen by someone using a program designed to find your connection (like aircrack –ng) but it eliminates the low hanging fruit that any armature hacker might overlook.
I hope this has enjoyed reading my article as much as I have typing it. It does not take much effort to maintain your privacy as long as you know what’s out there waiting for you and you eliminate that low hanging fruit. A mantra I try to follow I take from the backtrack community, the quitter I become the more I am able to hear. Have a great day.