Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Protect Your Privacy while Surfing the Web

Hi all,
Today's class covers increasing your privacy while surfing the web.
Normally, every website you go to is recorded and can be monitored. When you go to a website with SSL (https), the content of the page is kept private, but the website address is still in the clear.
This tutorial will use TOR (The Onion Router) from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF is an organization dedicated to protecting the rights of computer users from big corporations/government.
TOR is software you install that can direct all your internet traffic through a series of anonymous proxies to make it harder for observers to correlate a browser with the website it's going to. The Onion in the name refers to the many layers of proxies your web access goes through.
TOR is not foolproof, but greatly increases your security online. You can find more information here

Two things to note about TOR:
1) If someone has access to your computer, they can still see what websites you went to.
2) Because TOR goes through several redirections to hide your identity, it will slow down the speed at which pages load.

TOR can be used with any web browser, but Mozilla Firefox makes it very easy (and is a superior browser) so this walkthrough will refer to it.

Step 1: Install Firefox
Download and install Firefox here

Step 2: Install TOR
Download the TOR (The Onion Router) bundle here
Install all components.

Step 3: Install the Switchproxy Firefox plug-in
Go here to install SwitchProxy for FireFox
Click Install Now, and after the counter ticks down, click Install
After installation, restart FireFox
There should now be a new toolbar that starts with Proxy: None. Click Add on that toolbar
Select Standard (not Anonymous, that's for something else) then Next
Use the following settings:

Proxy Label: TOR
Manual Proxy Configuration: selected
HTTP Proxy: localhost Port: 8118
SSL Proxy: localhost Port: 8118
FTP Proxy: localhost Port: 8118
Gopher Proxy: localhost Port: 8118
SOCKS Proxy: localhost Port: 9050
SOCKS v5: selected
No Proxy for: localhost,

Hit OK

Step 4: Using it
For protected website access, change your Proxy dropdown to TOR and hit Apply (you must hit Apply for it to take effect)
For unprotected (but faster) access, change your Proxy dropdown to None and hit Apply

You can use TOR with any application that supports proxies (Internet Explorer, instant messenger, etc), just use the proxy settings above.

Note that with this setup, Google will sometimes display in a different language, because it may think you're coming from a different country. To always get it in English, use this link: http://www.google.com/ncr

That's it. Let me know if you have any questions or problems.


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