Online privacy and security tools

We all know of the threats to online security and personal privacy. What tools do you use to protect yourself? What strategies have you tried? Let us know below. We’d like to compile a list to publish on our website based on suggestions from you.

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Here are some things I use:

  1. I run a domain name server on a local computer and update it from the list of ad servers on yoyo.org every week. I also run a web server on the the same computer which delivers a one pixel image as a response to a request for one of the ad servers. I originally did this because I have a slow internet connection and wanted to stop unnecessary traffic. Now I get quite annoyed when I’m away from home and get adverts on my phone.

  2. I registered a domain name with a service which allows email aliases. Now every time I want to register for something I create a new alias and use that. If I start to get spam at the address I can create a new one for the service and delete the old alias without having to change other things.

  3. I use a VPN for almost all my internet traffic. The most annoying thing about this is that many web sites determine the language you will get from the country of your IP address, not from the language settings in your browser. I find the idea that your location determines what language you want to use very arrogant.

  4. I don’t use social media. I’m too old for that.

WIlliam

Could be an interesting thread. I’ve long run lots of browser profiles, one for Facebook, one for Amazon, individual profiles for specific projects that may require extended authentication to services such as AWS or Google Cloud. For years, that helped greatly with tracking, but less effective today. Seems the trackers have moved to Browser Fingerprinting. As I move to a new notebook computer, considering moving some of those browser profiles to their own virtual machine or container, also reduces threat-surface for the host OS.
Seems segmentation is the best we can hope for. Using a VPN will hide activity from ISP (or employer), and provides a new geographic location, but otherwise, if it’s carrying all traffic, then the only thing we’ve accomplished is changing location, and instead of worrying about our ISP selling our data, we have to worry: do we trust the VPN provider (unless of course we’ve setup our own VPN host). Still, it can be useful for one-off activities, (if we also use a virgin browser/OS fingerprint), like doing research on a topic you don’t want added to existing tracked profiles. This use is of course extremely limited since any use of existing accounts could tie it back to established profiles.

Here are a couple of the things I do.

  • Brave is my primary browser (after disabling their crypto ads feature). I like having tracker blocking by default without needing a bunch of add-ons.
  • I use Startpage or DDG for search engines. Again, no tracking and no filter bubble, which I feel gives better search results anyways. (I don’t always love the quality of the search results, but both are useable.)
  • NextDNS on my home router and all devices. This is sort of like a cloud-based PiHole. Using a service like this has some of the same issues as a VPN; less worry about my ISP but now I need to trust NextDNS. For now I’m comfortable with that tradeoff. I love being able to filter ads and trackers at the DNS level, especially for my family members who don’t understand / care much about these kinds of things. They all enjoy the lack of ads and how it speeds up internet surfing.

Anyone have thoughts on @dancingFish’s point about browser fingerprinting? That’s not something I know much about but sounds like it’s worth looking into.

I use MalWareBytes and it does stop attacks on a regular basis while browsing online. I have Windows Security but only because I have not built a new Linux machine. Cannot stand MS.

I know I need a PW Manager if there are any recommendations.