Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Collection of Software Tools for Protecting Privacy on the Web

This is a collection of software that we can use to protect privacy and maintain anonymity when browsing the Web.

  • Tor browser. Stated on its web page, "it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked." However, the web may appear to be much slower if Tor relays serving you are slow.
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation's HTTPS Everywhere. A web browser add-on that rewrites HTTP requests from your web browser to HTTPS requests. Stated on its web page, "On supported parts of supported sites, HTTPS Everywhere enables the sites' HTTPS protection which can protect you against eavesdropping and tampering with the contents of the site or with the information you send to the site. Ideally, this provides some protection against an attacker learning the content of the information flowing in each direction — for instance, the text of e-mail messages you send or receive through a webmail site, the products you browse or purchase on an e-commerce site, or the particular articles you read on a reference site.
  •  HTTP Cookie removers.  There are a number of web browser add-on's to remove HTTP cookies, e.g., Ghostery.
  • Flash Cookie removers. There are a number of web browser add-on's to remove Flash cookies, e.g., Better Privacy.
  • Web browsers in private or incognito mode. Modern browsers support "private browsing", e.g., Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Internet Browser, and Microsoft Edge.

Note that the level of privacy and anonymity provided by the above are different. Tor browser perhaps provides the best level of privacy and anonymity, albeit at the cost of higher latency and lower throughput. HTTP and Flash Cookies removers makes trackers, such as, online advertisers' job of tracking an individual web visitor more difficult; however, both operators of the web sites you visit and you internet service providers (ISPs) can still track you, i.e., they know which IP address the traffic is originated, and they both know which pages you are visiting if the traffic is a HTTP session, and the site operators know which page you visiting even if the traffic is a HTTPS session. For the part of web sites supporting HTTPS, HTTPS Everywhere prevents your ISPs' from eavesdropping on which pages you are visiting on a site; however, the web site operators can still know which IP address the page visits are originated and which pages you are visiting.

If you have anything that you want to add, please share with me.

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