How to Be Anonymous Online

anonymous

The Internet is increasingly becoming a tough place. People virtually scream, fight, and curse each other out over politics, racial issues, TV show spoilers, movie opinions—you name it.

Then there is the issue of having so much information collected about you online. How disconcerting is it to perform an Amazon search for a product and then see the same product show up on your Facebook page?

That’s a tech marketing strategy called “ad targeting.” The ads you see when you go to websites and presented to you, are based on bits of data about you collected by websites and search engines such as Google.

Between strangers being able to read your innermost thoughts about a political subject and Google knowing every facet about you almost as much as your parents, it’s no wonder many become paranoid about going online.

You can surf the web and access the Internet anonymously. Here are a few ways:

  • Incognito Browsing: You can switch to an Internet browser such as Chrome to Incognito Mode. Doing so, prevents search engines such as Google, from saving data about the sites you visit and what you download. Internet Explorer’s incognito mode is called, “InPrivate Browsing,” and “Private Browsing,” in Safari.
  • Use an Anonymizer: An anonymizer lets you browse the web without leaving tracks such as your computer’s IP address. It’s an option for the extra-paranoid who may not fully trust a browser’s Incognito Mode. One popular anonymizer is Anonymous.org (http://Anonymouse.org/). When you surf the web using Anonymous, you do so behind a proxy server that shields your information. A caveat; using anonymizers can sometimes slow down your browsing.
  • Use Tor: Tor is a network of onion routers—these are servers that disguise your computer/device information as you access the Internet. You can access the Tor network by downloading the Tor browser (https://www.TorProject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en)for Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux.

5 Cool Uses for the $35 Raspberry Pi 3

The Raspberry Pi Foundation just released the Raspberry Pi 3. It’s a full computer, as small as a credit card, and can be purchased from online sites including Element14 and RS Components. Its specs include 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

[Related: Protect Your Small Business From Cyber Criminals]

This tiny machine is, as mentioned, a full running desktop PC. It is being used for everything from teaching coding to creating crazy hacks, such as turning this old Xbox controller turned into a gaming console.

There is a host of things one can do with a little imagination and know-how with the Raspberry Pi. And since the computer is affordable, it’s a great system to really learn on and experiment with. If you are new to using a Raspberry Pi computer, here are five cool beginner’s projects to try:

1. Make a full desktop PC

From Stuff.tv: You can turn a Raspberry Pi into a full desktop computer. You will need to head to the Raspberry Pi website and download the NOOBS operating system. You will also need an at minimum 8GB SD card. Format the card, copy NOOBS onto it, and then install the NOOBS software. A USB mouse and keyboard can be used with the Raspberry Pi (it has 4 USB 2.0 ports).

2. Create a media center

Also, from Stuff are instructions for turning the Raspberry Pi into a media center. From the NOOBS installation screen, look for an install package called “Openelec.” This is the media center. Once it’s installed the Raspberry Pi will boot right to this software. Copy music, movie, and images into folders you set up within the media center.

3. Build a TOR router

TOR routers are used to surf the web anonymously. Hacakday.io has instructions for turning a Raspberry Pi into a TOR router. Instead of using NOOBS, the site recommends installing the Raspbian software. The rest of the instructions detail step-by-step the commands you need to run and how to set up the Raspberry Pi as an access point.

4. Set up video surveillance

RaspberryPi.org  has some great instructions  for turning the Raspberry Pi into a video surveillance system. The instructions teach you how to setup the Raspberry Pi as a camera and how to record video with it and set up motion detection.

5. Run Windows virtually

Hackster.io has instructions on how to make the Raspberry Pi into a thin client that can run a Windows desktop session. This is done by downloading and installing WTware for Raspberry Pi and ensuring that the Windows machine is running Remote Desktop Services.

[Op-Ed] Why Making Tech Companies Terrorism Monitors is a Horrible Idea

After a spate of terrorist attacks, we are a shaken nation. Politicians and leaders are doing less to quell our anxiety and more to stoke our fears. Now, a politician is introducing legislation requiring tech companies to report terrorist activities.

[Related: More Terrorism: Diasporans React to Yola Bombing in Nigeria]

On Tuesday, Senate Intelligence Committee Vice-Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) introduced the Requiring Reporting of Online Terrorist Activity Act, a bill requiring technology companies to report online terrorist activity to law enforcement.

Sen. Feinstein actually tried to get this bill passed earlier this year. It was scrapped after several tech companies, including Amazon, Facebook, Google and Twitter, complained about the vague language of the bill and just how overall it is a bad idea.

They are right mainly for a few reasons; some of which are technical.

This new generation of terrorists is incredibly tech-savvy. They use social media to spread propaganda and to connect with angry, disgruntled recruits willing to carry out their extremist madness. A study in March revealed that ISIS may have more than 40,000 associated Twitter accounts.

Twitter has been monitoring and shutting down accounts associated with terrorists. However, as one of the authors of the March study said, “You don’t have the manpower to go into every one of their accounts and determine their origin.”

If Facebook were a country, it would be the most populated nation on Earth. Twitter reached 300 million users earlier this year. To monitor, in real-time, a user-base that is astoundingly vast is a logistic impossibility; from both a technology and a manpower standpoint, and it’s simply impractical.

Let’s say Facebook and Twitter could shutter any terrorist-related account and activity. There are other means for extremists to digitally connect. There’s TOR—a network of onion routers comprised of thousands and privately operated servers that use encryption and relays to conceal location and usage of anyone who accesses. TOR, along with the Deep Web, which are websites and pages not indexed by engines such as Google and Bing, would be the preferred means of access for terrorists. Using these un-managed, “darknet” networks make extremists even harder for authorities to track.

Another reason Feinstein’s proposition is so ludicrous is about definition. From Feinstein’s website:

The bill would not require companies to monitor customers or undertake any additional action to turn up terrorist activity. Rather, it requires that if companies become aware of terrorist activity such as attack planning, recruitment or distribution of terrorist material, they must report that information to law enforcement.

She likens the bill to existing laws surrounding the digital transmission of child pornography. But it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison. It’s easy to identify child pornography. Is Mark Zuckerberg really qualified to pinpoint what constitutes “terrorist activity?” Already, Twitter and Facebook do a fairly good job of monitoring hate and violent activities. But if the CIA and other authorities—people trained to recognize terrorism—have a hard time thwarting terrorist acts before they are committed, should we put that responsibility on computer nerds?

Finally, it’s a slippery slope in deciding who deems what as “terrorist activity.” It is so far-fetched a fear to consider that perhaps a President Trump and his minions would consider the social media activity of #BlackLivesMatter as “terrorist activity?” Maybe not.

Keeping us safe as a nation is not the job of Silicon Valley; it’s Congress, and they shouldn’t be allowed to ‘pass the buck.’

 

 

[Op-Ed] Why Making Tech Companies Terrorism Monitors is a Horrible Idea

After a spate of terrorist attacks, we are a shaken nation. Politicians and leaders are doing less to quell our anxiety and more to stoke our fears. Now, a politician is introducing legislation requiring tech companies to report terrorist activities.

[Related: More Terrorism: Diasporans React to Yola Bombing in Nigeria]

On Tuesday, Senate Intelligence Committee Vice-Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) introduced the Requiring Reporting of Online Terrorist Activity Act, a bill requiring technology companies to report online terrorist activity to law enforcement.

Sen. Feinstein actually tried to get this bill passed earlier this year. It was scrapped after several tech companies, including Amazon, Facebook, Google and Twitter, complained about the vague language of the bill and just how overall it is a bad idea.

They are right mainly for a few reasons; some of which are technical.

This new generation of terrorists is incredibly tech-savvy. They use social media to spread propaganda and to connect with angry, disgruntled recruits willing to carry out their extremist madness. A study in March revealed that ISIS may have more than 40,000 associated Twitter accounts.

Twitter has been monitoring and shutting down accounts associated with terrorists. However, as one of the authors of the March study said, “You don’t have the manpower to go into every one of their accounts and determine their origin.”

If Facebook were a country, it would be the most populated nation on Earth. Twitter reached 300 million users earlier this year. To monitor, in real-time, a user-base that is astoundingly vast is a logistic impossibility; from both a technology and a manpower standpoint, and it’s simply impractical.

Let’s say Facebook and Twitter could shutter any terrorist-related account and activity. There are other means for extremists to digitally connect. There’s TOR—a network of onion routers comprised of thousands and privately operated servers that use encryption and relays to conceal location and usage of anyone who accesses. TOR, along with the Deep Web, which are websites and pages not indexed by engines such as Google and Bing, would be the preferred means of access for terrorists. Using these un-managed, “darknet” networks make extremists even harder for authorities to track.

Another reason Feinstein’s proposition is so ludicrous is about definition. From Feinstein’s website:

The bill would not require companies to monitor customers or undertake any additional action to turn up terrorist activity. Rather, it requires that if companies become aware of terrorist activity such as attack planning, recruitment or distribution of terrorist material, they must report that information to law enforcement.

She likens the bill to existing laws surrounding the digital transmission of child pornography. But it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison. It’s easy to identify child pornography. Is Mark Zuckerberg really qualified to pinpoint what constitutes “terrorist activity?” Already, Twitter and Facebook do a fairly good job of monitoring hate and violent activities. But if the CIA and other authorities—people trained to recognize terrorism—have a hard time thwarting terrorist acts before they are committed, should we put that responsibility on computer nerds?

Finally, it’s a slippery slope in deciding who deems what as “terrorist activity.” It is so far-fetched a fear to consider that perhaps a President Trump and his minions would consider the social media activity of #BlackLivesMatter as “terrorist activity?” Maybe not.

Keeping us safe as a nation is not the job of Silicon Valley; it’s Congress, and they shouldn’t be allowed to ‘pass the buck.’