Open source software such as Tor are not likely to have an explicit govt backdoor, as the developer community would find out. None
of the tools guarantee privacy or anonymity, but adopted in large
numbers they make the job of large-scale snoopers much harder. I
don't think that targeted lawful surveillance would be hindered
significantly by such tools, but large-scale fishing expeditions may
become impossible until the NSA has large-scale quantum computing -
which they may have ... soon?.
Anonymous Web surfing allows a user to visit Web sites without allowing
anyone to gather information about which sites the user visited.
Services that provide anonymity disable pop-up windows and cookie s and conceal the visitor" These services typically use a proxy server to process each HTTP request:. When the user requests a Web page by clicking a hyperlink or typing a URL
into their browser, the service retrieves and displays the information
using its own server. The remote server (where the requested Web page
resides) receives information about the anonymous Web surfing service
in place of the user's information.. Anonymous Web surfing is popular
for two reasons: to protect the user's privacy and/or to bypass
blocking applications that would prevent access to Web sites or parts
of sites that the user wants to visit.
Anonymous proxy servers hide your IP address and thereby prevent unauthorized access to your computer through the Internet. They do
not provide anyone with your IP address and effectively hide any
information about you and your reading interests. Besides that, they
donít even let anyone know that you are surfing through a proxy server.
Anonymous proxy servers can be used for all kinds of Web-services, such
as Web-Mail (MSN Hot Mail, Yahoo mail), web-chat rooms, FTP archives,
etc. ProxySite.com - a place where the huge list of public proxies is
compiled. In a database you always can find the most modern lists, the
Proxy are checked every minute, and the list is updated daily from
various sources. The system uses the latest algorithm for set and
sortings of servers by proxy, servers for anonymous access are checked.
Any web resource you access can gather personal
information about you through your unique IP address Ė your ID in the
Internet. They can monitor your reading interests, spy upon you and,
according to some policies of the Internet resources, deny accessing
any information you might need. You might become a target for many
marketers and advertising agencies who, having information about your
interests and knowing your IP address as well as your e-mail, will be
able to send you regularly their spam and junk e-mails.
Anonymous surfing is a security issue for your computer, as well as a privacy issue for your identity. A web site can automatically exploit security
holes in your system using not-very-complex, ready-made, free hacking
programs. Some of such programs may just hang your machine, making you
reboot it, but other, more powerful ones, can get access to the content
of your hard drive or RAM including passwords, pin numbers and bank account info. Everything a web site may need for that is
only your IP address and some information about your operating system.
Increasingly, consumers appear to be downloading free anonymity
software like Tor, which makes it harder to trace visits to Web sites,
online posts, instant messages and other communication forms back to
their authors. Sales are also up at companies like Anonymizer.com, which among other things sells software that protects anonymity.
This New York Times article on Internet privacyinspired the thought that one good way to protest at least some of the
behavior of an American government acting like a third rate Stalinist
satellite is to make anonymous websurfing the standard.
You don't like
George Bush having the opportunity to spy on you? Make yourself
invisible, even when you surf for groceries. That way, simply using
anonymity software will not be considered suspicious in itself - hey, I
forgot to turn it off! And obviously, the more people who use anonymity
software, the less suspicious its use by any one person.
You might ask: How good is this
stuff? Does George Bush have a backdoor into these programs or their
techniques, rendering them useless against a malicious US
administration? Are they difficult to set up and use? Do they slow down
web surfing and emailing? I don't know. I've been told that PGP is
exactly what it says it is: pretty good privacy, meaning it takes a
very sophisticated computer program a considerable amount of time to
decrpyt. The others are new to me so if anyone has any info please drop
a note in the comments.
My advice if you want to try this, is to first select the free choices. Try one, if you like it, upgrade or use keep using it. If you don't like it, then choose another free one, and give it a test drive. I would also suggest visiting a "Proxy Stealth Test" and find out what private information about you that your browser is providing to the internet sites that you visit. If you pick an anonymizer, then return to the Proxy Stealth Test site to make certain the Anonymizer is truly doing it's job. Good luck.