33. How to hide web-surf habits
By Mark Alberstat
Every time you surf the Internet for a recipe, a new program or that Cuban
beach resort you heard about, other computers on the net are trying to
find out your personal information. There are ways, of course, to keep
that information personal, but to protect your privacy a few steps have to
Programs that surreptitiously monitor your Internet activity get loaded
onto your computer in a variety of ways. Some come through simple webpage
applications such as Java applets or VBScripts. Through these tracker and
snooping programs, companies can find out your IP address, thus letting
them know, roughly, where you live, what your internet surfing habits are,
including personal interests, your e-mail address for spammers to purchase
and even some more personal information which could lead to identity
Programs or services that protect your identity while online do so in two
basic ways. The first is encryption and the second is IP redirection.
Encryption is a great way to send secure e-mail but you can still be
tracked as you surf the net. IP redirection simply covers your IP address
in a myriad of other numbers and fake addresses. Your true IP address is
still there but is so covered up few programs would bother to dig it out.
Most of the services out there protect your identity by, basically,
sacrificing their own. When you use their services, you actually surf the
web through their machines. You make a request to retrieve a web page,
their server retrieves it from the site and then passes it along to you.
The IP address that the requested site sees is the service's address, not
One of the more popular sites for anonymous surfing is
This is a redirecting site that features an easy to use address bar on
their home page for you to use as a test bed for their product. You will
need to agree to their terms of service but after that, surfing without
being known, through the Megaproxy toolbar, couldn't be easier. If you
decide to pay for their services, you can sign up for a variety of
www.anonymizer.com offers a
similar surfing bar on their site which,
retails their two software packages. The cheaper of the two packages is
for anonymous web surfing. The other package, which costs about three
times as much, offers a much wider range of services including, anonymous
e-mail, chat and newsgroup activity. Both products are for Windows-based
Web Tunnel is another package to cover your tracks. The producer,
Primedius, is covering the marketplace well with both Mac (OS X) and
Windows versions. You can download a trial version of this software from
their homepage or purchase differing levels of Web Tunnel, depending on
the amount of megabytes you intend to pass through their filters on your
rounds of daily surfing.
Using both encryption and redirection is WebSecure from Freedom software.
Although this package has the hefty yearly price tag of $59.95 US. It is
probably the most thorough Internet privacy software in the marketplace
today. This software package can protect you from all types of security
holes, including Java applets and ActiveX controls. It is, however, only
for Windows users and there is no indication of a Mac version on its way.
Using these software packages, or surfing the net through these sites' URL
bars, will help protect you from electronic prying eyes. However, nothing
is perfect. The next time you look for a recipe on the Internet, you
could be giving away more than just a few cookies.
The following are a few links to the products mentioned above:
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Originally published 2 May 2004