How to Surf the Web in Private
Last week I had family visit from Australia.
As part of our week together we decided to get a trip in to one of LEGOLAND’s new Discovery Centres.
It wasn’t for us adults…although if you’d seen us there you might think otherwise.
Nonetheless, just before queuing up for the LEGO City 4D Cinema experience, I decided I needed a coffee.
Fortunately in the discovery zone there was a Costa café. Great idea by Costa by the way. Having a coffee counter in the middle of what equates to the Bermuda Triangle for parents is a winner.
I was queued behind a parent who was trying to make the excruciating decision of what blend to have. The barista asked her if she wanted a choice of their special dark roast or another kind of special roast they had going.
The time it took you’d have thought the barista asked which of her children she’d prefer to leave behind.
Ultimately the lady responded with, ‘whichever one is most popular, I’ll have that.’
Sheep Theory 101
Now for me, that line of reasoning in a decision making process is utter insanity. This lady was going to drink a coffee that no one else cared about, and all she wanted was the most popular one.
At first I was gobsmacked. But I quickly realised this was the attitude of a lot of people these days. The ability to make decisions based on independent thought is a skill that’s sadly missing from most people.
The average person is just happy to trundle along with the status quo. They just want to do what everyone else is doing. They just want to be told what to do, not step out of line and hopefully feel like they belong to a group of people like them.
This is what we’ve referred to before as ‘sheep theory’. It’s the simple premise that most people are just happy to follow the flock like everyone else and sit nicely in the middle of the bell curve.
These people want authority to tell them what to do and when to do it. They might say different. They might pretend to be ‘free’ and to ‘be their own boss’. But they’re not. They’re just another sheep seeking the endorphin rush of the modern world’s instant gratification addiction.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with these people I might add. It’s just that when you’re part of the mainstream consciousness, then all you could ever expect to achieve is middle of the road results.
It’s being an outlier that’s where the real excitement and opportunity lives. But in today’s world it’s getting harder and harder to exist on the fringes of mainstream opinion and ideas. That’s because if you dare to have independent thought, you’ll fall in the sights of those in authority who might disagree with you.
If you publish something that offends or riles those in power you can expect to be silenced. No longer is the ideal of independent thought and free speech at risk, it’s already on the way out.
How to stay private online
The Australian government is pushing hard to know everything you do in the digital world.
They want to control your online existence by tapping into every digital freedom you might think you have.
First it was the metadata retention laws they sailed through parliament. Then the backdoor encryption laws they’re on the brink of also sailing through. And next it’s their desire to regulate and control your access to the internet.
At the recent G7 meeting world leaders have been plotting to get all hate speeches and violent content off the internet. Or if not off it, then to make platforms like Facebook and YouTube eliminate it.
Make no mistake this isn’t an attack on terrorism and violent behaviour online. It’s an attempt to get even more access to the movements of citizens online. They want to know what you say, what you do, what you create online. And they want to make sure that it all exists in line with their views, their policies, their motives and vested interests.
But even with more and more online control coming, there are a few things you can put into practice online just to make life that little bit harder for those wanting to track you and watch you online.
The most basic thing you can do is start to use an alternative web browser.
Most of us use Google’s Chrome browser. It’s comfortably the world’s most used internet browser. But as we also know it delivers enormous data sets to Google about what we do and when we do it.
Add to that every website you use has trackers, cookies, little data bits and bytes to follow you online to learn more about you.
An easy way to get around that is to install a privacy extension in Chrome like one from DuckDuckGo and/or AdBlock. A quick Google search will easily bring up the site you need to put that into play.
Then you could always use a completely different browser all together like the Brave Browser. This is a browser that automatically gets rid of the subversive ads that exist on your online journey.
A great way to see just how bad things have become is to go to a site, like a news site on Chrome and then the same site using Brave. Notice the difference (and the speed) in which Brave operates because it’s blocking all the trackers and ads and secret spying.
Head here to check out the Brave browser.
A step further than that is to install the Tor browser. Tor stands for The Onion Router. What this does is re-route your IP address around the world so that you can surf the web as normal. However your IP address is obfuscated so your IP location can’t be monitored.
For example when I open TOR it routed my IP through a server in Germany, France, Switzerland and then to the DuckDuckGo search engine. Virtually untraceable. Again, just head here to see more about Tor.
And then you can go even a step further and install and use a VPN, which stands for virtual private network. This sets you up with an IP address on a nominated server, again obfuscating your IP address.
There’s a lot of VPN choices that all perform similar functions — for a fee. Just find one that suits you. For what it’s worth though I use one called CyberGhost that you can use both on your computer and even on your phone. You can learn more about CyberGhost here.
With a VPN you can choose a number of countries to run an IP address from including Romania, Germany, the US, Australia, other parts of the UK, Canada etc. (it’s a big list). This too helps to shield trackers and online spies from seeing your detailed location and what you’re doing.
But if you want to go full on with it, as I sometimes do, then you use a bit of everything.
You can set up and run the VPN, use the TOR browser and DuckDuckGo search within that to surf the web. Doing that adds layers of IP security and anonymity as to where you go online that is crazy hard to break down.
The only downside is that all that routing can slow down your load speeds a bit. But that’s the price. You pay for heightened states of online privacy.
These are just some of the initial steps you can look at to add some layers of difficulty for those who want to watch you, control you and stop your online freedoms. There are more tips and tricks we might add that can help protect your online identity, and in the coming weeks and months we’ll continue to show you how to exist online in a world that wants to control you.
Keep an eye out for more soon!
Editor, Money Morning
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