As I mentioned in my previous article, Social Networking is an Extension of You, the FCC has sanctioned social-media background checks. I touched on how you need to be careful what you post in your Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace or any other online network account, because it can come back and bite you.
Well, even when you’re being innocuous and responsible, the Internet can bare its fangs and cause harm. While the Internet is a marvel in technology, that same innovation also lowered the bar on privacy and gave devious minds an anonymous way to prey on people.
Since every computer is issued an “Internet Protocol” address (IP address, which is reflected numerically, e.g. 220.127.116.11), wherever you go a digital trail is recorded. Not only is the trail recorded, what you looked at, searched for and clicked on is also captured.
Imagine what a company could do with this information? What could the government do? What could a child molester or rapist do? The implications are staggering! But, what choice do we have if we need to use the Internet? You can’t crawl back to the Stone Age!
Well there are things you CAN do to protect yourself and your family’s privacy, and to ensure your children’s safety. Here are three (3) free tools you can use:
3. and Tor
In the blog, Kids and Media, in an article titled Criminals Exploit Young People’s Search Habits, Sigrun Landro Thomassen states that the most popular searches for kids and teenagers is
entertainment (music, videos, movies, etc.) and that criminals know this and exploit it.
Enter Norton Online Family. Symantec, the makers of Norton, have been in the antivirus protection business since the inception of the PC. They have created a free
service that allows you to:
Control what your child is allowed to view
Block unwanted websites
It shows you what they searched for, which sites they visited, who did they chat with in social media
Control what hours they are allowed to surf
If you get the paid subscription, it will send you weekly or monthly reports on your children’s surfing habits
With this kind of control and information, you can be sure that they won’t accidentally stumble into something that is harmful, and if someone ill-intentioned tries to make contact, you will know it and be able to react.
One way that a history is built on you online is through your e-mail address. Every time you use it to subscribe to or buy something, you get added to lists. They may be a gender list, age group, regional location, likes and dislikes, etc. These lists are then used for marketing purposes, which is one of the reasons you get so much SPAM that often is about something you searched for.
GuerillaMail allows you to create a one-time use e-mail address that is only good for one-hour. It requires no creating an account or profile. You simply go to their website, www.guerillamail.com, and your e-mail is automatically displayed with a countdown for how long it’s good for (see image below).
Now you can go make your purchase and receive your confirmation and receipt. When anyone sends you an e-mail to your temporary address, it automatically appears in the same Home screen. When you simply go back to their website, your e-mail automatically is displayed with the remaining time that e-mail is active. No logging in, trying to find out where do I go to find my e-mail – it’s all very transparent (see below).
Tor was designed by the US Navy for protecting government communications. It is used by law enforcement, government agencies, the military, journalists, support groups that deal with sensitive and private issues (rape, suicide, child abuse, etc.) and anyone who does not want to leave a foot print that can tip anyone off of their presence and history.
This secure technology is now available for you to use on your personal computer. The way it works is it goes through multiple, random tunnels, erasing your foot print – sort of like taking a long path, with many detours, to throw off anyone who may be tailing you. While it does not totally remove the ability to track you, it makes it SO difficult that the government
feels safe using it for certain functions.
Installing is pretty simple. Just double-click on the file and it will extract all files to a directory called “Tor Browser.” In the folder, you double-click on the file Start Tor Browser and it will configure Firefox for you, open it and let you know when it’s ready for use. NOTE: Because it does use many servers (or tunnels) before reaching your destination, it is slower. However, when you want to make sure that you have privacy, speed is negligible.
So if privacy and protection are important to you, you can ensure your children are blocked from what is harmful and that you know where they’ve been and with whom they’ve chatted, you can use Tor to ensure that sensitive information is protected, and you can use GuerillaMail to avoid those pesky SPAM messages that always seem to increase after an online purchase or subscription.