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Keeping Your Basic Privacy While Browsing

It seemed high time to post about some of the things that I initially said I was going to when I switched to this version of the site. Instead it became all about the music almost immediately. Let’s change gears a bit and address some tech issues.

I’d like to think that most people know by now that our basic privacy as humans is being decreased more all the time. Arguments can be made on both sides as to specifically how this is negative or positive. I’m not writing this for hardcore tech people. I’m writing it for those who are less familiar with the subject, but might want to retain some sense of privacy.

Let’s focus on the obvious one that almost everyone in the modern world does many times every day. Web searches and general browsing. Many are not aware that your movements are recorded almost everywhere you go in as much detail as can be obtained. Without getting overly technical regarding the order of events or details; your IP address is logged, along with your location and any browser / operating system data that can be mined. Some companies have some pretty slick logging tools at their disposal. Often they are just collecting general geodata, which gets collated and used for future marketing regarding demographics. Even this website logs your IP address and reports it to me via Email if you make a comment on the site. Perhaps you don’t care about this either way. But basic privacy for browsing has become a bigger and bigger issue over the years as more unaware people go online. Some of it is totally harmless, others can be quite nefarious and questionable.

So what can you do to get get around some of this?

The easiest way is to use a VPN service, which is nothing new. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows you to utilize other cities in other countries as your public IP address instead of your actual from the service provider. Services and prices vary. Like any service, some are superb and some are flat out horrible. Generally a monthly service charge is the norm. There can be many uses for a VPN. If you are traveling for example, and the country you are traveling to has restrictions on the news feed you are a regular visitor of. You can use VPN to transmit from say…New York and now you are virtually in the U.S., even if on the beach in some far away place. Many want to watch U.S. based Netflix as another example from different countries. VPN allows for that, as well as bypassing other region based restrictions for often ridiculous reasons.

YouTube-Not-Available-In-Your-Country

Companies like Netflix and Hulu are now cracking down on VPN users to avoid this by taking advantage of WebRTC service in modern browsers. WebRTC (Web Real Time Communication) can be exploited and show your real IP regardless of using a VPN. It simply requires the company to employ a few lines of code and it’s no streaming media for you. Fortunately there is also a very easy way around this for any level of understanding.

Chrome: Install the “WebRTC Block” extension and make sure it’s enabled.
Firefox: Install the “Disable WebRTC” addon.

These are both very easy to install and require no real setup. Just make sure once you have installed – to delete your cache, cookies and web history and restart your browser. Once your VPN is connected, you should be good to go now.

The tech world changes very fast, so how long this will continue to work even is hard to say. But I don’t expect VPNs to be going away any time soon. As tactics are developed to avoid them working, so will the opposite as a backlash to keep them working.

Until next time,

Cheers

Author: The Tribe

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2 Comments

  1. So what VPN service do you use, if any? What’s the optimal cost/service balance?

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    • A bit back I got on one of those “hard to pass up deals” for “ProXPN”. It’s not a high rated company, but it was $40 for a lifetime access membership. It works fine and does what I need, and is fully secure without leaks once the browser is patched up.
      “PureVPN” is also a killer price. Paying a bit more for something like “ExpressVPN” allows for a full router configuration rather than just localized software, and far more choices of locations around the world.

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