Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

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CULater
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Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by CULater » Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:01 pm

Just viewed a piece on CBS News citing a security expert who suggests doing the following to maintain your privacy on the internet:

Step 1. Buy a new computer, not associated with your previous browsing history
Step 2. Buy a mobile hotspot and set that up for use with your new computer.
Step 3. Set up a new fake email address.
Step 4. Buy a new throwaway phone to use when that is required for setup of email, 2-factor auth, etc.
Step 5. Only shop with prepaid gift cards, never use your real credit card.

According to the expert, this will provide you with a platform for anonymous browsing and shopping on-line. No way to associate your activities with you personally. All data gathered about you can't be tracked to you. Guess you could use it for Facebook and other things too, so you leave no tracks that identify you personally on this platform.

Wondering what people think of this approach, and whether there are other approaches that might work as well without the trouble and expense involved implementing this expert's approach.
May you have the hindsight to know where you've been, The foresight to know where you're going, And the insight to know when you've gone too far. ~ Irish Blessing

donfairplay
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by donfairplay » Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:24 pm

These experts come up in the news to give legitimacy to three letter news networks requirement to "do something".

If you're browsing from a mobile hotspot, your browsing history is shared with your ISP. If you're using facebook, you're already being tracked so deleting it might be the only option, but since your data and profile still reside with fb and its advertiser's apps, never signing up for facebook in the first place would be better. Even if you're not using facebook, they have pixel and facebook connect to identify you and track you. Same goes for google analytics.

A new email address? Would that be a gmail address? Not exactly private. And you're still going to have to buy service through your throwaway phone, so unless you're using Heisenberg burner phones every month, you can be identified.

The prepaid gift cards might be the only legitimate idea, if you paid with cash. But think of where are you shipping products you ordered online - to your address? Or to some box in a mail store? Amazon is not going to send you packages there.
Last edited by donfairplay on Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ssquared87
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by ssquared87 » Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:29 pm

Seems too convoluted for me.

Buying a burner phone and hot spot so nobody knows I’m I’m browsing the Bogleheads forum is more trouble than It’s worth.

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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by ssquared87 » Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:32 pm

donfairplay wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:24 pm
The prepaid gift cards might be the only legitimate idea, if you paid with cash.
Even the prepaid gift card is stupid. Once I have the pre paid gift card info, I can determine exactly when and where it was sold, get the video footage from that store and use facial recognition to identify whoever purchased it.

donfairplay
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by donfairplay » Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:41 pm

ssquared87 wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:32 pm
donfairplay wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:24 pm
The prepaid gift cards might be the only legitimate idea, if you paid with cash.
Even the prepaid gift card is stupid. Once I have the pre paid gift card info, I can determine exactly when and where it was sold, get the video footage from that store and use facial recognition to identify whoever purchased it.
This is theoretical, but don't most grocery stores, gas stations, and drug stores only keep a certain amount of months on CCTV? I could use prepaid cards aged six months or more.

It's all defeated if you're buying something from ebay or amazon and shipping it to your address.

Cunobelinus
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by Cunobelinus » Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:28 am

I'm not trying to be obnoxious, but this seems like a 30 second introductory piece on how to act like an whistleblower/activist. Like many things, it depends on why you're trying to remain private. Disclaimer: I am neither a recognized nor self-professed security/privacy expert. I just try to pay attention.

With step 1, you're trying to get around browser/machine fingerprinting. You may have similar luck with buying a separate Network Interface Card (NIC) that, accordingly, has a different hardware (MAC) address, then use software to make the machine look different (think TAILS in a VM or a Live Linux distro). The point here is that if you normally use Windows 10 from a IBM Thinkpad, it won't look like that anymore. You will initially look like a brand new person.. until you start going to the same websites from the same access points and doing the same things.

Step 2, you're trying to not use your regular ISP so that your ISP doesn't see exactly what you're doing. It won't look like you're using the internet from your home or phone or whatever.

Step 3, once you no longer look like you're Person A using Machine A in Residential Address A, you can become Person B. To quote the late 20th century philosopher, Egon Spengler, "Don't cross the streams!" Once you cross the streams, then you have associated B with A and need to start all over. Everything is cross-contaminated.

Step 4, still trying to stay away from anything that is associated with Person A.

Step 5, stop being yourself. But why not use cash?

Regarding your comments, if you're going through this much effort to not be you, it wouldn't make sense to use something like Facebook, which has very effective algorithms at deconstructing your online presence and figuring out who you are, what you do/like, and selling it to make it public knowledge.

Effective? Sure. Realistic for most people? Probably not. You can get pretty good privacy with a lot less effort. Security is like an ogre: it's all about the layers.
1) Use a VPN. Not all VPNs are created equal. This sidesteps your ISP seeing what you're doing online, as well as makes it more difficult (but not impossible) for the folks online to deanonymize you. This does not stop your ISP from seeing that you are using the internet, nor how much bandwidth you're using. So if you previously streamed 2 hours of TV from 7-9pm each night, but now you are using a VPN, then it's pretty easy to match your pattern of behavior and deduce that you're still streaming TV from 7-9pm each night even though it's encrypted and your ISP can't see what sites you're visiting. VPNs became wildly popular in the past few years, and while they're useful, they're not a 100% solution by themselves. I won't use one all of the time.

2) Lock down your computer. Firefox has good extensions for blocking tracking services and/or general privacy (Privacy Badger, NoScript, HTTPS Everywhere, uBlock Origin, Disconnect). Anything Google is collecting data on you. Outbound firewalls can stop resident programs from communicating back with their overlords (e.g., Little Snitch for Mac). Erase all data from the browser every time you close it out. Single task so that you don't leave FaceBook open when you're just surfing the internet. Use different browsers for different functions/websites. Change your default DNS settings (on your router to affect the entire network) to something other than your ISP's: 9.9.9.9 (Quad 9) is an example of an (alleged) privacy-conscious DNS server that doesn't record your online activity.

3) Stop using services that track you. Facebook, Google, et cetera.

4) Pi-Hole your network at home. It can be setup to block advertisements and some tracking mechanisms network wide. Its $35 and was designed to be used to teach kids how to program computers. What I mean is that it's pretty easy to use. When you're not at home, you can setup your mobile devices to VPN to the Pi-Hole so that you can still use the ad-blocking/malicious site blocking features of the Pi-Hole, as well as preventing Verizon/ATT/T-Mobile from being able to track your mobile activity. This, of course, does not prevent geolocation of your cell phone, which is a separate issue.

5) Use a GoogleVoice number (a throwaway number) when you "need" to sign up for rewards programs. Or, even easier, don't sign up. They're "rewarding" you for the personal information you're giving them. Pay to play.

None of these really stop you from being canvassed based on your behavioral patterns online (i.e., you get home from work at 5pm every day and go to BogleHeads.org and ESPN.com immediately -- if you're doing this from a machine running TAILS communicating via TOR to a VPN -- the puzzle pieces can eventually be put together if someone's looking hard enough. This always reminds me of the old saying on the easiest thing to do to be a better driver: fix the nut behind the wheel.

There are many things you can do, those above are just some of the easier things. I am not going to buy a new computer, a mobile hotspot, a new phone, and shop with pre-paid gift cards payed with cash only -- that's unreasonable IMHO. If my life depended on it, my opinion would change accordingly.

Disclaimer: I am neither a recognized nor self-professed security/privacy expert. I just try to pay attention.

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Tue Apr 03, 2018 4:41 am

Allow me to translate:

1. Throw out everything and buy new stuff.
2. Advertisers profit!

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cfs
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by cfs » Tue Apr 03, 2018 5:18 am

Too late, all my/your private life is already out there, move on. Good luck y gracias por leer / cfs
~ Member of the Active Retired Force since 2014 ~

denovo
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by denovo » Tue Apr 03, 2018 5:54 am

This is too much.
"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by oldcomputerguy » Tue Apr 03, 2018 6:01 am

CULater wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:01 pm
Just viewed a piece on CBS News citing a security expert who suggests doing the following to maintain your privacy on the internet:

Step 1. Buy a new computer, not associated with your previous browsing history
But once you use the "new" computer, it will accumulate a browsing history of its own. If you visit the sites you normally visit, then that history will be similar to the old one, so you've wasted the money you paid for the new computer.
Step 2. Buy a mobile hotspot and set that up for use with your new computer.
Mobile hotspots work off of a cell provider. How does one set up a cell phone account anonymously? How does one pay the bill anonymously?
Step 3. Set up a new fake email address.
I'll give him this one. It's silly simple to set up a Gmail address or some such that doesn't leave fingerprints.
Step 4. Buy a new throwaway phone to use when that is required for setup of email, 2-factor auth, etc.
Again, how does one top off the phone when necessary?
Step 5. Only shop with prepaid gift cards, never use your real credit card.
And yet again, how does one "prepay" those "prepaid" cards? Cash?

I assume that this "expert" has some valid credentials in the industry, but I'm not sure that the above list is as effecting in guaranteeing anonymity as he seems to think it is.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

rob65
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by rob65 » Tue Apr 03, 2018 6:11 am

6. Share every detail of your life on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

7. Go buy another new computer.

JoeRetire
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by JoeRetire » Tue Apr 03, 2018 6:41 am

CULater wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:01 pm
Wondering what people think of this approach
I think they forgot Step 6 - make sure your tinfoil hat fits snugly.
and whether there are other approaches that might work as well without the trouble and expense involved implementing this expert's approach.
That depends on your goals.

If you are all that concerned about being "tracked" on the internet you should probably ditch the cellphone and computer, and pay cash for everything.

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Tue Apr 03, 2018 6:59 am

rob65 wrote:
Tue Apr 03, 2018 6:11 am
6. Share every detail of your life on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

7. Go buy another new computer.
:D :sharebeer

JBTX
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by JBTX » Tue Apr 03, 2018 7:01 am

Why would anybody want to do any of this? What is gained by maintaining privacy, even if it did work?

dsmclone
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by dsmclone » Tue Apr 03, 2018 7:30 am

I've frozen my credit and just use common sense online. I really don't know why people are surprised by Facebook. I've always assumed companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc know a lot about me and are sharing that info and I really don't care. The point where I really get concerned is if I start seeing adds for Viagra on my FB feed. Maybe AI is predicting something I don't know yet. :( :(

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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by lthenderson » Tue Apr 03, 2018 9:18 am

I wouldn't do this just for the convenience factor. I like being able to order something without spending ten minutes typing in all the same information over and over and over. Who cares if they get my credit card number? My credit reports are frozen and in less than one ten minute session of typing all the same information, I can cancel my card and get a new one sent to me while the credit card company takes the loss for the fraudulent purchases.

Who cares if Amazon knows my shopping preferences and puts suggestions up or stores it in a cookie so it pops up on another site I frequent? If it isn't my social security number or account numbers, I guess it doesn't bother me. I just fail to see the reason for all the paranoia.

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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by an_asker » Tue Apr 03, 2018 9:47 am

CULater wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:01 pm
Just viewed a piece on CBS News citing a security expert who suggests doing the following to maintain your privacy on the internet:

Step 1. Buy a new computer, not associated with your previous browsing history
Step 2. Buy a mobile hotspot and set that up for use with your new computer.
Step 3. Set up a new fake email address.
Step 4. Buy a new throwaway phone to use when that is required for setup of email, 2-factor auth, etc.
Step 5. Only shop with prepaid gift cards, never use your real credit card.

According to the expert, this will provide you with a platform for anonymous browsing and shopping on-line. No way to associate your activities with you personally. All data gathered about you can't be tracked to you. Guess you could use it for Facebook and other things too, so you leave no tracks that identify you personally on this platform.

Wondering what people think of this approach, and whether there are other approaches that might work as well without the trouble and expense involved implementing this expert's approach.
This sounds like a start up for the plot of the next Bourne series movie. Eagerly waiting for its release :-)

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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by Idle_Hanz » Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:05 am

I'm see a lot of "why does this matter?!" posts.
Here are two videos that explain why someone might want to be concerned with privacy.

Adam Ruins Everything: Free Websites (6m42s)
https://youtu.be/5pFX2P7JLwA

Ted Talks: A Future Without Secrets (15m, Shows how social security numbers can be determined using a photo, an app and some "useless" data)
https://www.ted.com/talks/alessandro_ac ... cy_matters

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:22 am

Idle_Hanz wrote:
Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:05 am
I'm see a lot of "why does this matter?!" posts.
Here are two videos that explain why someone might want to be concerned with privacy.

Adam Ruins Everything: Free Websites (6m42s)
https://youtu.be/5pFX2P7JLwA

Ted Talks: A Future Without Secrets (15m, Shows how social security numbers can be determined using a photo, an app and some "useless" data)
https://www.ted.com/talks/alessandro_ac ... cy_matters
I’m extremely concerned about privacy but I’m not going to run around like my hair’s on fire throwing computers in the trash and buying new ones in the process. Btw, what do you think happens to the HD in your computer when you dump it? Better get the sledge hammer out! After your sledgehammer it, burn it! Just in case.

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Pajamas
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by Pajamas » Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:22 am

There's no privacy on- or off-line at this point. The question is how to deal with that.

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Idle_Hanz
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by Idle_Hanz » Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:42 am

AntsOnTheMarch wrote:
Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:22 am
I’m extremely concerned about privacy but I’m not going to run around like my hair’s on fire throwing computers in the trash and buying new ones in the process. Btw, what do you think happens to the HD in your computer when you dump it? Better get the sledge hammer out! After your sledgehammer it, burn it! Just in case.
I'm not as concerned to go to the lengths in this news piece either. I was just trying to show might people might want to take some very basic measures like not oversharing with social media, using a tracking blocker or even a VPN.

No practical need to sledgehammer/burn an encrypted, rewritten hard drive as far as I'm aware. :beer

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:46 pm

Idle_Hanz wrote:
Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:42 am
AntsOnTheMarch wrote:
Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:22 am
I’m extremely concerned about privacy but I’m not going to run around like my hair’s on fire throwing computers in the trash and buying new ones in the process. Btw, what do you think happens to the HD in your computer when you dump it? Better get the sledge hammer out! After your sledgehammer it, burn it! Just in case.
I'm not as concerned to go to the lengths in this news piece either. I was just trying to show might people might want to take some very basic measures like not oversharing with social media, using a tracking blocker or even a VPN.

No practical need to sledgehammer/burn an encrypted, rewritten hard drive as far as I'm aware. :beer
:sharebeer

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Rob5TCP
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by Rob5TCP » Tue Apr 03, 2018 1:21 pm

As mentioned above, I always use VPN (even though I am directly connected through Ethernet).
I use cookie auto-delete, privacy badger, Umatrix (more for security than privacy), HTTPS everywhere, and
duckduckgo as my primary search engine.

Additional, for my main email account (gmail), I only access through the TOR browser.

My cellphone is a bit harder, but I turn off location (except for the rare time I require it).
I use privacy flashlight, WiFi and Bluetooth turned off (except when required), only a few
apps are allowed notification, and give minimum permissions for most apps.

Twice a year I do a privacy check and run through a bunch of procedures from a checklist
I periodically download.

This is far from perfect, but it makes me a harder target than the next person.
As for inconvenience, occasional it is an issue and I quickly setup a sandbox for that.

I do have a google phone # that I give out to people that I feel might be annoying.
A couple of times a year I dump it and get another one.

My Facebook page has no listed friends - it's only for posting certain information.
I listed myself as a 45 year old woman. My friends all know. Facebook's marketing
has a bunch of useless information. I also close it down when not using and never use
Facebook to sign into other sites. Plus, all cookies are swept as soon as it closes,
Last edited by Rob5TCP on Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Loik098
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by Loik098 » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:23 pm

If you think keeping the mundane details of your life private is extremely serious business......you probably think too much of yourself.

You're just not that important, and nobody outside of friends/family really cares that much about you. Your friends probably don't even like you as much as you think they do.

That said, keeping your financial stuff on relative lockdown is a no-brainer.

Freefun
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by Freefun » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:41 pm

My understanding is that if I wanted to be totally private I'd have to get off the grid and stay off. Not willing to do that.
Remember when you wanted what you currently have?

ssquared87
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by ssquared87 » Wed Apr 04, 2018 10:19 am

donfairplay wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:41 pm
ssquared87 wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:32 pm
donfairplay wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:24 pm
The prepaid gift cards might be the only legitimate idea, if you paid with cash.
Even the prepaid gift card is stupid. Once I have the pre paid gift card info, I can determine exactly when and where it was sold, get the video footage from that store and use facial recognition to identify whoever purchased it.
This is theoretical, but don't most grocery stores, gas stations, and drug stores only keep a certain amount of months on CCTV? I could use prepaid cards aged six months or more.

It's all defeated if you're buying something from ebay or amazon and shipping it to your address.
Correct on both counts. Guess my point is that maintaining privacy these days is extremely hard. For some areas of my life privacy is important, but for others, I couldn't care less. Whether someone knows that I bought a box of Pellegrino at Costco last week though, I'm okay with that info being public. I'll take greater care to protect my financial information though. We need to pick our battles, not fight off every possible issue.

new2bogle
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by new2bogle » Wed Apr 04, 2018 10:33 am

I think most people will be fine with:

1) using a VPN
2) Never use Facebook
3) Log out of gmail when done using

Y.A.Tittle
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by Y.A.Tittle » Wed Apr 04, 2018 10:02 pm

dsmclone wrote:
Tue Apr 03, 2018 7:30 am
I've frozen my credit and just use common sense online. I really don't know why people are surprised by Facebook. I've always assumed companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc know a lot about me and are sharing that info and I really don't care. The point where I really get concerned is if I start seeing adds for Viagra on my FB feed. Maybe AI is predicting something I don't know yet. :( :(
Add Amazon to that list. They know lots about you and, like the others, answer to no one.

For browsing, use Firefox Private Browsing mode. Install AdBlocker Plus, HTTPS Everywhere and Ghostery. Run CCleaner weekly. Search using DuckDuckGo, not Google.

golfCaddy
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Re: Protecting personal privacy on-line - CBS News

Post by golfCaddy » Wed Apr 04, 2018 10:15 pm

I got a good laugh out of this. It sounds like a guide to entering WITSEC.

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