At the recent SXSW conference, Edward Snowden supplied people with tips to complicate the lives, if not totally block, those that stick their noses in your online business.
Not to be confused with trying to ruin the chances of the NSA averting a nuclear strike by terrorists on my own country, I do feel there are some well-reasoned limits to what the US government should be doing, especially when it comes to figuring out ways to undermine secure Internet protocols. After all, when, as purported by Snowden, the NSA begins devising backdoor hacks into our web browsers, you can be certain that this only makes it easier for others (perhaps dangerous) individuals from doing the same.
In other words, in the name of the War on Terror, the NSA might actually be planting the seeds for the death of the Internet…or at least a 9/11 style assault on the world’s computer infrastructure. Students of the origins of Bin Laden and his connections with the US War on Communism might be right to feel a little déjà vu.
A related threat, of course, is that criminals might stand on the shoulders of the NSA’s good work and do some very bad work against you and your bank account and your identity.
Anyway, that’ my soap box speech on this.
But back to my recent spat of blogs on privacy and how to cover your virtual butts. Snowden did hand out a few treats for the kids at SXSW: two browser plugins that he regards as good ways to enhance your privacy against NSA or NSA-inspired hackers.
The first is Ghostery, which allows you to view what web services are collecting data on you when you visit a given web page. It goes further by letting you (Ad Block style) block, pause or allow such collection.
I’ve been using it for a few days and have found it fascinating just how many scripts are gathering info on me when I land on a given page. Right now, I have everything turned off, so that should take care of that.
I did experience one problem watching an embedded video on a website. In these cases, you can pause all of Ghostery or try to figure out which one of the dozen or so scripts it’s blocking is the required one for the video and then decide if it’s worth it.