Do you care what other people know about your web-browsing? If it bothers you that governments around the world are collecting huge quantities of information and that the UK government has implemented the Investigatory Powers Act that places it in the forefront of this movement, then you may like to do something to protect your privacy.
Here are a couple of ideas to get you started.
Virtual Private Network
The first and simplest step is to use a virtual private network (VPN). This is simply a protected connection between your computer and a server somewhere on the internet that prevents others from inspecting the data that flows along it. This is useful for protecting you when using public WiFi as well as evading your internet service providers automatic logging systems. I should emphasise that it is not cart blanche to do whatever you wish on the internet – it is privacy protection but not anonymity.
VPNs are a service that you buy from a commercial supplier. Here are a range of VPN suppliers for you to choose amongst.
Securing the last lap
While your VPN will secure your connection between your computer and the VPN server, the final section between the VPN server and the website you want to visit may still be insecure. This happens because your VPN pipe is only protected as far as the VPN server. After that the protection is managed according to the website’s choice of protocol.
To secure this final leg for websites that offer it, there is a useful addition to your browser called HTTPS Everywhere. This does just what it says: encourages a secure connection whenever the website supports it. You can install this addition to your browser from this website.
The next step in complexity is to use TOR. The heart of TOR comprises a network of servers who bounce your internet traffic around between them until it reaches its destination. This is rather similar to constantly changing your car during a journey in order to through-off pursuers. Despite high-profile attacks on the TOR network by governments, TOR still appears to be effective in making one reasonably anonymous. However, the longer journey taken by your data means that your browsing will be slower.
There is more..
There are numerous options that you could take to protect yourself but they begin to be more complex. If you want to have even more anonymity online, then the latter details of this article may be for you.
I will be updating this page shortly with further privacy suggestions over time.