I have always been an advocate for online privacy and started using tools like DuckDuckGo in 2008 and later on the Ghostery plugin for my browser, but since the whole debacle surrounding Facebook and Cambridge Analytica as well as the fantastic Tweet from Dylan Curran I have finally found myself pushed over the edge.
I’m not jumping on the #DeleteFacebook bandwagon, because I am OK with posting the posts that I do and sharing the pictures that I share. However, I think it’s wrong that they hang on to your data even when it’s supposed to have been deleted.
Another major issue I have are all of the trackers out there and the fact that Facebook & Google can still collect data on you even if you aren’t logged in to their respective services _or_ even have an account whatsoever!
These guys and many other tracking services make huge amounts of money by monitoring your online habits and selling that data to other companies, so that they can target you for their goods & services. It would be like 100’s of people following you around the super market taking notes of every move you make and every product that you look at, so that they can run off and find somebody who would be willing to pay for the fact that you potentially wanted to buy some Ragu!
With all of this going on (and most likely more that we still don’t know about!) I feel like I am finally in a position to take more control of how I utilize the Internet. It would be foolish to think that one can simply cut themselves off from the Internet altogether, but having these new tools to your disposal will allow you to have a much more pleasant & stalker free experience.
Having been testing the waters of a vendor neutral digital lifestyle for many years I finally feel as though this has all of a sudden come together. As of today, in true Plagtech fashion, here is my current setup:
- Operating System = Tails 3.6.2
- Browser = Tor Browser 7.5.3
- Hardware = 32GB Kingston Data Traveler
- Email = ProtonMail
Tails is installed on the 32GB Kingston Data Traveler USB drive, which I currently have plugged into a Lenovo ThinkPad T440s and it works splendidly! I haven’t had to do anything fancy with regards to installing the right drivers to get the system operational. Also, I have setup the remaining disk space on the drive as an encrypted persistent storage volume, so that any data I save on the drive can be transferred to the next device that I use it on and should I lose this USB drive the docs will be unreadable. It works on a Mac, which is great as I also have a 15″ MacBook Pro as well.
This means that I am truly platform agnostic as well as truly anonymous. The web session I have to WordPress right now is routing through France, Singapore, Switzerland, and then out to WordPress. When I start a new browser session the network path will be completely different!
Also, with the extensions that come preinstalled with the Tor Browser I discovered that some sites use HTML5 canvas images to track who you are and the extension kindlt provides an option to block them, which I did! Also, when I went to maximize the Tor Browser to fullscreen I was warned not to because some sites/trackers are able to identify the type of machine you are using based on the screen resolution!! This is all within the first few minutes of using Tails & Tor Browser!
I’m so glad that I have started using Tails, as I can now carry my fully encrypted digital life on my keychain and use any hardware to fire it up and do what I need to do. It doesn’t really get any more platform agnostic than that!
Sure, when I need to I can still login to my iCloud.com account and funnily enough when I did Apple’s 2FA said that a login from Zurich wanted to access my account, so I know the anonymity is defintely working! However, I do plan on utilizing ProtonMail going forward for the communications that I care about with friends and family. Of course, to get the true benefits of ProtonMail both the sender & receiver should be using the service, but even when the other side is not using ProtonMail I still have the peace of mind that all of my email is encrypted on their servers hosted in Switzerland, which has the strictest privacy laws in the world.
If you are interested in learning more about this and getting yourself setup here are some useful links!
Now it’s time to get back to watching The Fifth Estate 🙂