By now most people understand that everything they do on-line at work is logged and analyzed somewhere by default. Did you know it's happening to you at home too?
"Oh Homegeek, no one is looking at what I'm doing, I'm not a spy or anything."
I hear this a lot, but you should realize your Internet Service Provider (ISP) logs all your internet traffic (at least all they can see), and likely examines it for certain things in order to comply with legal requirements, or to adjust your speed based on traffic type.
People can find their speeds dramatically reduced when doing certain things, like downloading torrents, because many ISP's throttle all torrent traffic. ISP's can only do this if they are analyzing your traffic.
Well what if you want to surf the web with more anonymity? It's really not that hard to do.
TOR browser. TOR stands for The Onion Router, a service established in the mid 1990's to provide anonymity and privacy to it's users.
The TOR browser funnels all the web surfing you do through the TOR network, vastly increasing your privacy.
You can run TOR browser on Windows, Mac, & Linux, and it's free to use.
Installation instructions for all 3 platforms are found on the TOR browser website below the download links, and they have made them very easy to follow.
So what happens when you use TOR browser? Well it encrypts and bounces your web browsing traffic around a distributed network of
relays run by volunteers all around the world.
By using TOR browser you prevent somebody
watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit.
It also prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, meaning you can access sites which are otherwise blocked. Many people use it to circumvent government controls on access to information in dictatorships.
There are some trade-offs for this level of privacy. Most notably Flash and HTML5 content won't work, so it's not for gaming. This is by design to help keep you secure, although you can deliberately allow them. Just be aware that doing so reduces the effectiveness of the TOR browser.
Speed will also suffer a bit. Because your browsing is being bounced all over the place it's not going to be blazingly fast. It shouldn't be terrible though, especially since you're not accessing things like Flash.
Would I use TOR browser for everything? Absolutely not, in most cases it's overkill. But there are times it makes sense; I might be researching a company's website and not want them to see my connections.
TOR browser won't make you James Bond, but it will offer you some privacy for when you want it.
Shouldn't you be able to choose what's private and what isn't?
-The Home Geek