Disclaimer: We don’t claim to be “experts” on this subject, but we’ve learned a few helpful, simple tips over the years…
If you are reading this, it is important for you to protect your privacy and security. Right now, your online activities are probably being snooped on by various parties.
Your internet provider is most likely spying on you and recording your online activities. And, yes, this is perfectly legal in the United States (since March 2017) and it is mandatory in the UK, Australia, and other countries due to data retention laws. This information can and will be used against you by the powers that be, but there are simple solutions we’ll discuss below.
Here are some points to keep in mind.
1. Don’t use Google services
Google, like many other tech companies, is basically a private surveillance contractor. They collect your data and pass it on to state agencies all over the world. So just think of Google and these large tech companies as front groups for NSA/GCHQ/Mossad. Whenever you use a Google product, such as the Chrome browser or Gmail, your data is being collected and passed on to others.
Not only that, Google Chrome doesn’t actually delete Google cookies even if you clear all cookies. What does that tell you?
How to avoid Google surveillance:
- Google Chrome alternatives: Firefox browser, Waterfox, and Brave (runs on Chromium but configured for privacy)
- Gmail alternatives: ProtonMail, Tutanota, Mailfence, Cock.li (good for burner emails, no verification required), Posteo, Runbox, and Countermail
- Google search alternatives: Searx.me, DuckDuckGo, Mojeek, and Metager.org, among others.
When you use Google, you help make the people at Google rich by giving them your data. Google is also actively censoring conservative, Christian, and “controversial” websites, such as this one and many others that you probably regularly visit.
See The De-Google Thread.
2. Be smart, safe, and legal
Don’t do stupid or illegal stuff online, like threatening people on Instagram. Illegal activity, threats, and inciting violence all play into the hands of our enemies, who want nothing more than excuses to take away our rights.
In terms of security, the best ‘antivirus’ is common sense. Think twice before clicking on suspicious links, unknown attachments, or mysterious files posted in online forums.
Remember that many ‘free’ products online, such as free VPNs and free browser extensions, can be also contain malware and spyware to collect your data. (This does not necessarily apply to FOSS software, such as Linux.) Be smart and proceed with caution.
3. Use a good VPN for privacy and security
A VPN (virtual private network) is a simple tool that you can use on your computer, phone, tablet, or router. While shady free VPNs are problematic, a good paid VPN will:
- Hide your real IP address. Every device that connects to the internet has a unique IP address, which reveals your internet service provider and location. Without a VPN, you broadcast your real IP address to every single website you visit.
- Hide your browsing activity. A VPN will encrypt your internet connection between your device and a VPN servicer. This makes your activities unreadable to your internet provider and other online snoops. Of course, if your posting on your Facebook account or other accounts, a VPN won’t conceal that.
- Encrypt your DNS requests. Whenever you visit a website, your computer sends a DNS request to translate a URL to an IP address. These DNS requests are usually handled by your internet provider and sent in cleartext (not encrypted). This allows your internet provider to easily record every website you visit. With a VPN, DNS requests are encrypted and handled by the VPN server, rather than your internet provider.
- Unblock content. Many countries around the world are blocking access to certain content. This trend is only increasing. A VPN allows you to spoof your IP address and location, thereby giving you access to blocked and restricted content all over the world.
- Make public WiFi more safe (for you). Public WiFi is increasingly dangerous due to hackers and network admins that collect the data of people on the network. Again, a VPN encrypts your data and activities, making it unreadable and securing your connection on public hotspots.
You can start using a good VPN in about 5-10 minutes by following these steps:
1. Purchase a VPN subscription from a trustworthy provider, such as TorGuard VPN. For a 50% lifetime discount on TorGuard VPN rates, use this coupon code: TG50COUPON
Note: Dedicated IPs and streaming IPs are generally unnecessary, unless you have specific needs for one.
2. Install the VPN app on your computer, phone, tablet, etc. To do this with TorGuard, click “Get Started” in the very top-right corner of their homepage. Then select your operating system, such as “Windows VPN Setup”. Follow the instructions to download the app on your device.
Note: With TorGuard, you can also create a new username and password for the VPN app (under My Account > Change Passwords), or you can leave it to be the default username (email) and password you created with your account.
3. Connect to a VPN server through the VPN app. For the best speeds and reliability, connect to a nearby server. When you see the green light, you are connected.
Once you are connected to a VPN server, you can browse the web with more privacy and security.
What about the Tor network?
I find the Tor network to be rather spooky because of its popularity with pedophiles, drug dealers, and government agents. It also has flaws and red flags:
- Malicious Tor nodes could potentially snoop on your activities, steal important data (login details), and infect your computer.
- Tor was created by and for the US government (military industrial project), and it is still funded by the US government today.
- US government bodies run Tor nodes, probably to snoop traffic.
- Tor only works within a browser, which makes it susceptible to data leaks and de-anonymization.
- The Tor network is most likely compromised as an anonymity tool.
Note: “TorGuard” VPN does not have anything to do with Tor or the Tor network, despite having a similar-sounding name.
4. Use an ad blocker
A good (safe) ad blocker is also important. Ads are annoying as they eat up bandwidth, and they can also be invasive. Most ad networks are tracking your activity in order to feed you targeted ads. Blocking ads will improve your privacy and also improve page load speeds.
Ad blocker options:
- uBlock Origin – This is one of the few (free) browser-based ad blockers that is trustworthy and open source. It supports different browsers.
- AdGuard – AdGuard offers some robust apps for blocking ads on different operating systems.
- Pi-Hole – Pi-Hole is a unique ad blocking solution that can be used for your entire network.
Using cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, may also be useful if you want more privacy with online transactions.
Here are some quick tips to get started with Bitcoin
- Install a secure Bitcoin wallet on your computer, such as Electrum.
- Purchase Bitcoin and transfer it to your wallet (don’t leave it on an exchange). You can buy and sell Bitcoin through one of the major exchanges, such as Coinbase. You can also buy Bitcoin anonymously if you are extra paranoid.
- Remember that all transactions are recorded in the Blockchain. Therefore you may want to create new wallets for different purposes.
If you have Bitcoins that you’d like to anonymize, you can:
- Transfer your Bitcoins to Monero (XMR) through an exchange like Changelly.
- Then transfer your Monero (XMR) back to a new Bitcoin wallet.
There are also Bitcoin tumbling services if you want to go that route.
Bitcoin can be used for purchasing various digital products and services, including VPNs, web hosting, domain registration, and more
6. Operating system
In terms of privacy, the worst operating system you could use is Windows 10. Windows 10 is basically spyware, with all your data being collected and sent back to the “mothership” which is then passed on to various parties.
The best operating system for privacy and security is Linux. The problem with Linux is that it can be a huge pain to get working, and support is very limited. Dealing with a broken update and/or installing packages can eat up hours of your day. If you use standard apps on your computer, Linux may not be an option, due to limited support.
A middle ground may be Mac OS, which offers more privacy than Windows and is user friendly. You could purchase a Macbook, but not install anything in the “cloud” or utilize any Apple services, tracking, etc.
7. Secure, Anonymous, Free Speech Web Hosting
There is currently a great purge underway. Websites with “controversial” (but legal) information are being shut down left and right. Hosting providers and blogging platforms such as GoDaddy, Namecheap, Dreamhost, WordPress.com, Blogger, and many more are deleting sites on a whim, often after years of work by their creators. There are even examples of domain names being stolen/locked by domain registrars.
If you are a website owner/blogger, be sure to backup your content and find a secure alternative. Recommendation: OrangeWebsite is based in Iceland and offers Domain Name Registration and Web Hosting services. It is one of the few hosting providers in the world that provides 100% anonymity, security, anonymous payment, and is pro-free speech.
With OrangeWebsite, you can anonymously purchase a domain through their Domain Registrar service, which also protects your name and private information from ever being exposed. Then you can open a hosting account and start your blog/website. You’ll never have to use your real name for any of this and you can pay with Bitcoin.
If you already have a website/blog on another hosting platform, OrangeWebsite will transfer your website and files over for free when you signup for a hosting account. Get started here.
I Don’t need all this privacy. I’ve got nothing to hide…
The problem with this mentality is that it could put you at risk. The exact degree of risk is based on many factors, including where you live, what you’re doing online, and who wants to go after you.
Another problem is that this data could be saved and used against you in the future for some kind of “thought crime” or related charges. Looking around the world, we already see this happening. Here are just a few examples:
- United Kingdom: Up to 15 years in jail for visiting websites that the government deems to be “terrorist propaganda”. Browsing history is already being used as evidence in court cases for “hate speech” and similar thought crimes.
- Canada: Armed SWAT teams are raiding homes of people who browse “controversial” websites.
- United States: Trump has called for the death penalty for “hate crimes” and involuntary confinement for “mentally disturbed” individuals.
- Most of Europe: Questioning certain historical events online can get you locked up for years. Being critical of immigration policies could qualify as “hate speech” under EU law.
In the future, social credit scoring systems may be rolled out in much of the world, like we’re seeing today in China. Some argue that a “social credit system” has already arrived in the US as Big Tech partners with Big Government to monitor and profile certain individuals.
You can’t undo your digital footprint. If you aren’t covering your tracks online, everything you do on the internet could potentially be used against you at some point in the future.