Be anonymous on the Internet

Be anonymous on the Internet

Spinnaker

By Craig Crossman
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
(MCT)
Maintaining our privacy in this information age continues to be a challenge. It seems that most everything we do leaves a data trail for some intelligence-seeking hunter to follow. Advertising agencies and their ilk spend fortunes trying to discover who we are, what we like and what we’ll buy. And a lot of this private information is coming from the Internet. The Internet has become the information resource of the new millennium but it’s a two way street. When we surf the Net, we leave little trails of where we’ve been, how long we were there and what we did while we were there. This tracking is inherent in the design of the browsers and email programs we use to access the Internet. Things such as Java applets, ActiveX, cookies, email and more all leave trails. But you can fight back and become truly anonymous on the Internet with the help of sites such as Anonymizer.com. Their consumer product is called Anonymizer Universal.
Anonymizer.com is a web site. There’s nothing to download, no software to run. You simply log onto Anonymizer.com, surf and send e-mail from their location. That’s it. All Anonymizer basically does is act as an information shield. Normally, when you arrive at a web site, your browser reveals to that site where you came from and where you are going to when you decide to leave. To see an example of this, just go to their website’s home page. Everything such as your computer’s IP address, your location, your ZIP code and even what kind of browser and computer type are displayed. This is just to show how much information they can get about you from just one simple visit! Using Anonymizer prevents all of that from happening because you always arrive and leave from the Anonymizer protected location. Once you access the Anonymizer services, everything you do is shielded from detection. You just go about your business.
E-mail is handled in much the same manner with their Anonymizer Nyms service. Your e-mail arrives at any location with total anonymity. None of the identification information can be seen from within the e-mail message or on any of the routing tags. All Nyms communications are conveniently located in the primary e-mail account that you select, so you don’t have to access multiple accounts to read communications. Nyms work with any e-mail account from any provider such as Gmail and Yahoo mail services.
Another positive reason to use Anonymizer Nyms is the reduction of junk e-mail better known as “spam.” When visiting a commercial site, many will attempt to place you on a mailing list. Arriving anonymously prevents your landing on a spammer’s list.
Anonymizer Nyms works by rerouting all of your Nyms e-mail communications through their secure servers. Any responses from your Nym e-mails are conveniently located in the private e-mail account you choose. If you start receiving spam from any of your Nyms accounts, you can disable them for good.
Bottom line is that where you go and what sites you visit is your business. It’s not too much of a stretch to envision a day where your insurance company may get wind that you’ve been visiting web sites that offer information about cancer and deny you health insurance coverage based upon those inquiries and the possibility that you may be hiding a pre-existing condition. So be safe. Surf anonymously.
Anonymizer Universal is $79.99 for a one-year subscription and works with both Macintosh, Windows and there’s even a service for your iPhone. Anonymizer Nyms is $19.99 for a one-year subscription and is compatible with all browsers and all operating systems.
www.anonymizer.com
(Craig Crossman is a national newspaper columnist writing about computers and technology. He also hosts the No. 1 daily national computer radio talk show, Computer America, heard on Business TalkRadio — Monday through Friday, 10 p.m.-midnight ET. For more information, visit his web site at www.computeramerica.com.)
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(c) 2011, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.