By Eric B. Delisle
April 11, 2018
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Some of the questions we get here at iCloak...
How can I browse the internet anonymously? How can I stop someone from tracking me online? Can I stop the creepy personalized ads that follow me online? Does Incognito Mode help me be anonymous?
There are a number of sophisticated techniques which can be used to track users uniquely and individually online. The Anonymous Browser in iCloak works hard to protect users from most of the most common techniques.
There are some nice features in the Anonymized Browser in iCloak to help protect your identity from trackers. The browser is basically the Tor Browser which is built on Firefox. iCloak automatically launches and connects to the Tor network for you when you launch any application which is meant to run data over the Tor network which makes it extremely difficult to match activity online back to the actual user performing the activity.
One of the features will warn about resizing your window size in the browser. This is because the browser window size can be an identifying feature used to track you.
Another feature shows a warning when a site tries to access your browser’s HTML5 Canvas data.
Of course, this is a necessary feature to stop the rampant browser fingerprinting that is being used by tracking entities. iCloak passes with flying colors the Web tracking test at the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Panopticlick test site.
The “no" red mark also shows your information isn’t being shared even with those 3rd parties who “promise” to honor Do Not Track in your browser. Trouble with “promising” is that nobody knows if you break your promise but you.
Instead, as you can see below, the Internet believes we are running Windows NT 6.1 which of course is not the case as we are running this on an Apple MacBook Pro!
Our approach doesn’t require trusting them to keep their promise. With iCloak NO MEANS NO.
One additional way of protecting yourself from being singled out is to run with a big herd. Although this EXACT browser configuration has been seen by the Internet before, the trouble is it was coming from all over the place and now there is no way to distinguish THIS EXACT BROWSER from HUNDREDS of other ones that appear to be identical.
Basically, this means if a “watcher” saw activity online coming from a browser… if that browser was “1 in a billion”, it is basically unique to ONLY YOU. If your browser said it was 1 in 2 was the same then every other person online would be using the same exact browser.
Google gave a number of great messages about privacy including sending me to the site:
The site provides an area to analyze a bunch of online advertisers who have signed on to comply with various industry suggestions and government regulations. Among these compliant companies you are given the option of setting your preferences with regard to behavioral marketing targeting YOU SPECIFICALLY.
Make no mistake, if the power to target people individually wasn’t already within their power (which it is) there would not be initiatives to protect citizens from companies doing so without your consent.
The GOOD NEWS is that there are many companies who have a lot of “good people” who are trying to find the right balance of respecting a person’s right to privacy and their right to be ignored with the need to both address the needs of the company/organization as well as the users themselves, many of whom WANT personalization services and therefore agree to share their preferences with these companies.
The BAD NEWS is that these wonderful companies who are working to “do the right thing” are the only ones you can “see” because everyone else is just doing what they want and blatantly collecting, analyzing and using to its fullest potential whatever data they can get their hands on. Often this is done with the justification that “they aren’t doing anything to hurt anyone” and “they are doing everyone a favor by showing more ads that may interest them and fewer that don’t.”
While this can be a valuable reason among some people, the trouble comes when those who want more privacy are caught up with everyone else. Consider for example that someone may want 3rd party advertisers to NOT target them, the only way, according the the site www.YourOnlineChoices.com
is to ENABLE COOKIES so the compliant companies will honor your request.
Unfortunately, now many people who normally may have cookies turned off to avoid more than just tracking, are now coerced into turning them on through a seemingly well intentioned program. Trouble is the bad actors are now free to store and retrieve data from your computer through browser cookies with this enabled.
Stay safe out there!