How to best protect your Privacy on the Internet – Complete Guide

Most of us think of a proxy server when trying to protect our identity on the Internet. But is that enough? I don’t think so. There are two reasons why I think using a proxy alone might not be able to protect your privacy on the Internet.

The first reason is that most of the websites are now using technology that gives away information that you are using proxy. Only the new proxies are able to pass off your modified IP address as genuine while most such tools are detected and hence the websites get a little deeper into your computer to find out your identity.

The second reason expands upon the first reason. I said that upon finding out you are using a proxy tool to access it, the website starts looking for something called browser independent cookies. These are basically Flash cookies. Normal computer junk cleaners just cannot detect them and hence, they are not easily removed when you run the junk cleaner.

protect your Privacy on the Internet

Browser Independent Cookies Fail Proxies

Since this post is about protecting your privacy on the Internet, we will not delve deep into cookie formats. In short, the normal cookies are small and can easily be removed using most of the system cleaners out there. I use CCleaner for the purpose but you may use any.

The problem with Flash cookies is that they are a little bigger compared to normal cookies and hence are missed by the computer junk cleaners. You need special programs to clean them up or you can do it manually. Read my research on Browser Independent Cookies for complete information on cookies that can give away information even if you are using a proxy. Though your IP address is changed when you use a proxy, a look at the Browser Independent Cookies aka Flash cookies lets the cat out of bag. Thus, you need few other steps in addition to just using a proxy.

Protect Your Privacy On The Internet

Factors To Be Considered

For average users, privacy is not much of an issue just because they are ignorant about the spies following them all over the Internet – Facebook, Google, Internet Marketing Programs and other websites. Basically, though it appears that the spying is so good that you are offered adverts based on your browsing habits, it is not really as good. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

After much research, I came to the conclusion that we need to address two factors for staying private on the Internet. They are:

  1. Remove all sorts of cookies and
  2. Use a VPN proxy

For normal cookies, you can use CCleaner, Comodo System Cleaner or any other cleaner software, you might have been using.

To remove Flash cookies on every start-up, I recommend running a command upon boot. In the autoexec.bat present in your system drive, just add the following line and save it. You will have to select “Show Hidden Files and Folders” under “Folder Options” to be able to see autoexec.bat. To open the file for adding the command to delete Flash cookies, right-click on the file and select EDIT. Add the following without quotes:

"CD \"
"DEL *.SOL /S"

The above takes care of deleting all the Flash cookies present on your system drive every time your computer starts. If you don’t want autoexec.bat or if your copy of Windows bypasses autoexec.bat, you can create a custom batch file using AutoStarterX. If you face any problems, contact me for assistance. I will be glad to assist you.

The next factor is using a good proxy cum VPN that can encrypt your data as it passes through the different gateways and servers all over the Internet. I’ve been testing plenty of free VPN systems for the past one year and found SpotFlux to be the best. It does not slow down your computer as with many other VPNs with encryption facilities. Plus it provides a secure channel from your computer to the server you are accessing.

I am still researching the VPNs available in market and have checked things like Jumpto, EPIC, UltraSurf, etc. If you have used or know of other free VPN services, please share with me so that I can review them and compare them with SpotFlux.

You may also check out privacy tools like Ghostery, PrivacyFix and Web Shield.

Maybe I am being paranoid or maybe I am just being careful. In any case, I am sharing what I do to protect my privacy on the Internet. Please share what measures you take to protect your privacy on the Internet.

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Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN