Sunday, January 30, 2011

Paranoia: common sense for the security-minded.

I will admit that I am somewhat extremely concerned wherever my security and privacy are involved. Given what I understand of the internet, it's often better to remain low-key or hard to find. An easy-to-follow "e-trail", as a few friends of mine call it, is an invitation to be investigated. So's being deliberately secretive and letting other people notice. The plainly clothed John Doe strolling down the street probably attracts less attention than the disgruntled youth (complete with trenchcoat) quickly striding down the boardwalk.

What I mean by that somewhat obtuse metaphor is that it's often better to develop secure and safe habits than attempt to implement security as a policy only when it is thought of as necessary.

In that vein, I'd like to introduce the following bits of useful tech:

Tor, available at [ ], is pretty much the best thing ever for anything internet-privacy related. It's a SOCKS proxy interface that has nodes located all over the world. Essentially, the connection is end-to-end encrypted and bounced across multiple nodes, allowing bypass of any incompetently-implemented filtering technology that isn't on the machine you're using to browse.

Also useful:

Iron, slightly paranoid cousin of Google's Chrome, is available at [ ] and is my browser of choice. It retains all the functionality of Chrome and is what I use for all browsing where security is not the chief concern at hand.

Wherever security is of the utmost concern, I break out Firefox with Torbutton. The addon allows simple on-off usage with easy visual recognition of whether or not you're browsing via Tor.

I maintain two internet browsers so that the attitude that I use with each is compartmentalized- reading blogs and e-mail doesn't require a secure connection- but I make sure that if there's anything in question about the folks I'm interacting with, I route the data through Tor.

Related, but not really that important: alternate GMail accounts, lots of them. I have at least 5, one of which is for work, one of which is for personal e-mail, and the other 3 are mules that I use to interface with folks I don't regularly converse with.

That's all for now.


  1. erm...yeah you are indeed quite paranoid

  2. Thank you for sharing. :)
    This will do the paranoid parrot in me some good.

  3. I have tor and torbutton installed but I haven't had any actual use for them other than curiosity on hearing of the existence of "hidden" sites. I searched through the hidden wiki a bit but found nothing really interesting. The only other thing I use tor for is as a proxy, however its quite slow, then again so are most web based free proxys so meh.

    In terms of browsing I am not particularly concerned about security, I don't really have any reason to be, and I'm happy to use firefox without any addons for this.

    Thanks for sharing, its interesting to get a perspective on other peoples views.

  4. i use FF for everything and turn on torbutton when i need it. i also agree about the alternate email accounts, i have 4 gmails, 2 hotmails, 2 yahoos, 7 aim accounts with aim mail or aol, plus theres a handy firefox add-on called "less spam please" that can create a valid, anonymous, temporary email account inserted into a website. this is great when you dont want to give out one of your real email addresses. also i use ghostery to block analytics providers and behavioral data collectors.

  5. i've had tor for several years, great program

  6. All good information. I too try to avoid leaving a trail wherever I go.

  7. Agree, agree, agree, agree. I'm so paranoid when it comes to posting anything on the internet now :P

  8. I've very lax about this sort of stuff, I should start doing some of this.

  9. I don't use Chrome. I'm still using Safari.

    Thank you for your kind comments. I hope you reach 500!


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