Available services that provide free anonymous browsing are multitudinous – nowadays more than ever. Because of their secondary website unblock function, and because of the growth of internet censorship in large parts of the Arab and Asian worlds, web site proxy servers are spreading like wildfire. Indeed, if copyright legislation in Europe and the US continues the way it is currently heading, soon the whole world will be turning to free web proxies to bypass blocked sites. But with all these providers of free anonymous browsing services around just now, who is using them for their primary function – of providing online safety?
Still, relatively few people. We have an odd situation at the moment with regard to awareness of the dangers found on the web, and of the means available to protect you from them. Most people are quite oblivious to the potential for personal loss that comes with day-to-day use of the internet – especially where identity theft and credit card fraud is concerned. Education, as ever, is the key here…
Something like 98% of the internet population carries out what is known as
exposed surfing. Exposed surfing means two things. Firstly, all (or nearly all) your internet activity is freely visible to anyone who chooses to look at it, quite simply because it is not encrypted. Secondly, every action of browsing, searching or communicating that you carry out is not only visible but also traceable back to your computer through your IP address. You may not realize it, but your IP address is stamped upon every packet of data coming in or out of your machine – and with many home internet connections, your static IP address is as associable to you as a person as your telephone number. That rarely bothers people, because they generally hold the view that it takes special skills and equipment to view or track internet data coming in or out of their computer, just like it's not so easy to wiretap another person's phone calls. This is a dangerous misconception. In fact there are numerous free programs online that allow anyone interested to tap into exposed web surfing communication without any specialist knowledge whatever. All one needs is the will to access the communication, as the means are very much there for the taking.
The next question that naturally follows is,
Well, exactly what threat am I under from internet-based attack? The answer to that depends on you and your situation. To demonstrate as best I can the
categories of threat you might face, I will use a colour code risk system that was founded by a Colonel Jeff Cooper, a firearms instructor and former US Marine. You may recognize it as similar to the old National Terrorism Advisory System – which was only a few years ago abandoned in favour of case-specific threat alerts – and that is because Colonel Cooper's system was borrowed and expanded on by the NTAS.
With each threat level, we will look at ways to protect yourself; particularly we will address the importance of anonymity on the internet, and which hide IP address free technologies (and others) you should consider taking on board. Free private browsing services, as you will see, are plenty able to protect you in all but the most critical circumstances.
If you are reading this because you are under attack from a particular hacker, I recommend you jump immediately to the last section – condition red.
Part II: Conditions White and Yellow
Part III: Condition Orange
Part IV: Condition Red
Part V: Condition Red (Continued)
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