Sunday, August 19, 2012

Safer Internet Surfing

So, you have your Linux up and running and now you can surf the Internet without risking a thing.  Right? Linux is bullet proof, right? Well, pretty much, however, whatever we do on the Internet is recorded somewhere.  Our digital lives are stored on some big server out there in the digital world.  Those digital lives could be recalled when needed and at the time when we least expect.  How many of us would fail?

Let's not get into all the details of all that stuff.  Let's, instead, get into securing our Internet.  The first thing I recommend for the home user is to get a hardware firewall.  Many brands are out there.  I have a Linksys router with an Open-Source firmware to manage my home firewall needs.  There are many other brands.  When properly set up, these can prevent digital intrusions to our private home data.

Next, get your browsing under control.  I like Firefox for a browser.  The reason I like it is because I can modify it to make my browsing more private.  The add-ons I use to help with that is Ghostery and Add-Block-Plus (ABP).  Ghostery blocks counters and trackers thus controlling cookies and pop-ups.  ABP controls adds and pop-ups.

This is great on popular social networks like Twitter and Facebook.  Ever get tired of seeing those stupid adds on the right side of Facebook.  Get Add-Block-Plus and Ghostery and do away with those stupid adds.

It is also great on Google image searches.  Ever do a search for something innocent and end up with an extra tab or window open with something you did not click on?  And worse yet, has that ever happened when your wife or kids pop up behind you out of nowhere?  Embarrassing and hard to explain right? Out of sight, out of mind they say and Add-Block-Plus eliminates the pop-ups and protects us and our families from seeing something we never intended to see when we set out on an image search. 

While I'm on that subject, did you know your Google Search has a "Safe Mode" and can be set at "Strict" or "Moderate" and that you can report bad images?  Well, now you know.  This menu is located at the upper right hand corner of your screen.  Nowadays, using "Strict" mode is the best plan, but not immune from the occasional infiltrator.  Report offensive images.

Finally, when we click on an image or do a search for something bad, someone out there is counting our searches and clicks.  These accountings are tallied into a market analysis for such searches.  Please do not be one of those among many who surf for garbage as these surfings declare a need  and the need gets answered with more garbage.  It's called supply and demand.  Garbage dealers make their money this way.  They find out what people want by sticking random images in the middle of innocent ones.  And they have experts who get their pages on the first few pages of an innocent search.

Bottom line, be careful.  FireFox has the tools to secure your Internet experience.  So, let's step outside of the Garbage market base, and pave a way for a new and clean market.  Search for specific things and select only what you search for.  Internet was originally designed to be a tool and was never intended to be a private entertainment vise.  I'm full of clichés and the one I'm going to add here is "Change starts at home".  And in the case of the Garbage Internet Market, change does start at home.  Happy and safe searching.

Oh, I should also say that FireFox, ABP and Ghostery are all free, however, I'm sure their creators could use the money and support. 

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