Thursday, August 2, 2007

Surf Securely and Stealthily

Whenever you surf the web, you leave behind you a trail of crumbs on your machine: offline files left in cache, history of the sites you've visited, cookies and in extreme cases downloaded components.

From a security/privacy point of view, this is a mess. Anyone who access your computer can learn about your browsing habits, where do you shop, bank, read etc. If you're like most users, you may also have your browser "remember" your passwords for you, meaning access to your online accounts is granted to anyone who has your computer.

On the other hand, I probably don't need to discuss the mess of spyware, malware, tracking cookies etc. you're exposed to during a normal day of surfing the web.

There are many "security applications" out there that would "block intrusions", "clean after you", "erase tracks" etc., but as Mister Miyagi told Daniel-San: "best defense - don't be there". Don't use your browser. Don't even use your computer. What then...?

If you've been reading my earlier posts you know the answer already: use a VMWare virtual machine. More than that, use the VMWare Player with the Browser Appliance - a VM that contains a minimal operating system (UBuntu Linux in this case) and a FireFox browser. Whatever gets downloaded is trapped in the VM. At the end of browsing just shut it down and start with a new one next time - all tracks gone. And it's free.

BTW, this is my 50th post since this site went on the air (well, not technically true, but my lawyer advised taking a specific post out, because it's an ongoing issue). Here's to the next 50!

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