January 2015 Newsletter

**** The 4specs Perspective

Your Browsing Security

My goal is to minimize every website's awareness of my activities.

Have you noticed ads for Amazon products you recently viewed when you are visiting another website? Amazon has paid an advertising network and website a premium price for targeted ads - just for you.

Your personal security is under attack. Here are some thoughts on how to be more anonymous in your Internet activities. Amazon, Google, Facebook and many other Internet companies are now public companies with pressure to increase revenues and stock price - coming from advertising and product sales.

This is not an article requiring setting up a Virtual Private Network or using Tor; rather an article on simple changes you can make to your Internet use..

An advertising network (Google AdSense, Doubleclick and Media.net are good examples) can identify you fairly well - where you live from your Internet connection, websites you visit frequently, and the computers you use. If you do not frequently remove cookies, the websites can identify where you travel and the hotels you use and the products you purchase or are investigating.

Cookies are small files that are put on your computer. While they can only be read by the server that set the cookie, third-party cookies can be set across many websites. For example, if you log into your Facebook account, and then visit another website where they have a Facebook connection - even a hidden image, Facebook will be able to retrieve the third party cookie they set on the other site and know more about you and can identify multiple websites you visit.

By collecting cookies set across many websites, I can be identified as a conservative (due to visiting conservative websites), living in Utah (probably near Park City due my ip#), play golf and ski due to other websites I visit.

My goal is to minimize the collection of cookies on my computers. I use Firefox as my primary browser - due to the Add-Ons that minimize cookie retention. Some of the key Add-Ons I have used or settings I have selected include:

Aviator is a new Chromium-based Internet browser that focuses on security. Looks good, and but is not blocking most pop-ups and seems to crash with flash. Another alternative to be aware of.

I would be remiss if I did not point you to 3 programs to clean up your computer system. Whenever I am asked why a computer is slow or has problems, I run these programs to clean up the system. This assumes virus protection is running. I personally use Microsoft Security Essentials (free) on my Win 7 machines and just Defender on a Win 8.1 machine. These are all free and the paid versions are not required.

While you are looking at security, consider deleting yourself from as many places as you can. Here is a recent CNet article on Five Ways to Delete Yourself from the Internet.

Feedback and questions are always appreciated.



Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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