Protect Yourself Online - Unless you take a proactive approach, almost everything you do on your computer and online can be traced.
It's best to do do your own research to find exactly what may fit your needs. Here are a few ideas to get you started though...
1) IP Address - this is possibly the most important - if you don't do anything else do this!
This is your computer's address that you unknowingly submit when you visit a website. It is much like a calling card and can be traced down to your home address. It is important that you have anonyminity when surfing the net or making a purchase. There are many paid services that will provide this, here are a few:
www.findnot.com - mixed reviews lately but it's easy to cancel your account if needed.
Did you know that Google keeps your search information forever? Any LE can use this info against you. It doesn't take great IT forensic skills to see where you've been.
The beginning step is hiding or disguising your real IP. Keep in mind that with any proxy service you are entrusting them with all of your details, including login details. It will pay to do your homework to find a good provider. You will want to find a paid service that ideally is offshore or at least overseas.
2) Email Address
If you are using any number of paid or free email services, your ISP or the service itself will most likely keep all emails associated with your account. Even if you've deleted the email. You will also want to use a service that strips your IP information from the headers and possibly also encrypts the data if you are dealing in sensitive areas. A couple of ideas:
Since 9/11 I think all these services have a backdoor which means law ecnforcement can read anything encrypted just as easily as you or I can read a Hotmail message. You need to change your IP, that's the key! IMPORTANT - HUSH, CYBER-RIGHTS, ETC ARE NOT SECURE. YOUR BEST BET IS SECURENYM.NET - PLEASE NOTE THIS!!!
3) Internet and Computer History
Windows and other software programs store history about what you have done, what documents you have used, what web sites you have visited, what images and movies you have seen, and various other activities you have performed. All of this is stored in your hard disk. The Windows built-in functions will not protect you, most of the history can not be deleted with them. Therefore, anyone else can see what you have been doing on your computer. Even if you erase a file within Windows it is still visible for anyone who really wants to check. There are a ton of programs that can help you. Try:
www.download.com - lots of free and paid-for solutions here, you'll have to do a search on "privacy" or "erase."
If in doubt, get a new hard drive!
4) File Shredding/Encryption
Did you know that even if you erase a file from you computer that it is still visible for anyone who really wants to look? Only when it's been written over, is it gone and that doesn't happen as often as you think. Erasing a file may keep an employer or girlfriend from finding something, but it won't do anything with LE. There's a lot of good free programs on the link below, just search for "file erase" and then refine the search for "Free" if that's what you want.
You may have important documents that you don't want others to read. Maybe you've already password protected them through Windows. That's about as effective as the standard "Erase" command in Windows. Try these:
www.truecrypt.org/ - free open source encryption.
www.cypherix.com/cryptainerle/ - make an small (25MB) encrypted folder for free.
Another cool program is InvisibleSecrets and that shreds, encrypts, and hides programs - like maybe you use Firefox for only certain internet activities - why not hide FF and leave IE visible for everyone else. Check out their site:
Use Firefox, not Internet Explorer. There's a few good reasons, but overall it's a better program.
5) Money Transactions
The best way was e-gold, but they are still down for the count so the following is not really applicable right now.
Western Union is by far the most popular method however and generally no ID is required for payments under $1000. Use different locations is you are sending large amounts of money per month or at least use different people if using the same location. It's best to use a different name other than your own, but if there's a problem with the payment and you need to get your funds back, you won't be able to unless you have an ID for that name that you used.
Some people recommend using a PO Box. The only issue with that is that you will have to present a two valid forms of ID to rent the box. It is not advised to use a fake name and ID, that could leave you open to a whole new set of problems. The best benefit of PO Box is that it is a step away from your residence. If delivery is to your residence, be sure it is "clean" prior to receiving your gear.
7) And finally...
If you ever do get busted, keep quiet! Don't say anything without a lawyer present! It is your right to keep quiet, exploit that right. LE guys and girls are just doing their job, at least respect them for that...
If you have any suggestions, let us know - [email protected].
Hopefully you have found this page useful.