When you surf the web it is possible to learn information about you even when you don't want to advertise who you are. This is true even if your system contains no virus or malware software. Specifically information that is easily available online includes your IP address, your country (and often more location information based on IP address), what computer system you are on, what browser you use, your browser history, and other information. It gets worse. People can get your computer's name and even find out your name if your machine supports programs like finger or identd. Also, cookies can track your habits as you move from machine to machine.
How do people get this basic information about you?
When you visit another web site, information about you can be retrieved. Basically, information is intercepted and used by others to track your Internet activities.
How do you stop this from happening?
First of all, it is possible to serf the web anonymously and thereby stop leaving a trail for others to find. Note that this is not fool-proof, but it makes it much harder for people to know who you are. There are products called anonymous proxy servers that help protect you. The anonymous proxy server replaces your Internet address for its own. This has the effect of hiding your IP address and making it much harder for people to track you.
How do I get an anonymous proxy server?
There are many vendors who sell anonymous proxy servers. There are also free proxy servers available to you. Two such products are ShadowSurf and Guardster. Guardster (http://www.guardster.com/) offers various services for anonymous and secure access to the web, some paid as well as a free service. ShadowSurf (http://www.shadowsurf.com/) ShadowSurf provides anonymous surfing at their site for free. Go to it and you will find a box to enter a URL that you want no one to track. There are many others, but here are two that are frequently used.
Another interesting product, given the recent news about the Google search engine filtering its findings for the Chinese government, is Anonymizer (http://www.anonymizer.com). This company, among others, recently (Feb 1st, 2006) pressed that it "is developing a new anti-censorship solution that will enable Chinese citizens to safely access the entire Internet filter-free" (http://www.anonymizer.com/consumer/media/press_releases/02012006.html).
Does an anonymous proxy server make you 100% safe?
No. Still, you are much better off if you use such technology.
What other things should I be concerned about when trying to keep my private information private?
Wishing you happy and safe surfing!
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