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Thursday, 14 July 2011

Do We Need Anonymity For Surfing Like The Laws For Phone Tapping?



The recent phone tapping issue not only closed UK’s paper, News of the World, and left its innocent workers at disarray but also incited a clash between the border disregarding merchants (Rupert Murdoch's empire) and the border defending politicians. Almost reminding Clash of civilizations, a Hindu could easily see a clash between Kchhetrias and Vaisyas. Although the paper died, following the clash, BSkyB suddenly survived.


Although exposure through phone tapping has grabbed headlines in the surviving papers, ‘human nakedness’ during surfing the Net has never grabbed much. The biggest lie ‘Surfing the Net in private’, still mimics Gospel truth. Although we cherish our privacy, and the explosion of the Net and concepts emerging from it have partly come through the privacy that it offers us, it is essentially‘pseudo privacy’. In fact, almost reminding if not replacing God, Big Brother sees all that we do in that ‘private’ moment. Suddenly, we have never been so much exposed in our entire history even when primitive tribes are included - as a dismayed Pakistan has come to know.  

This Big Brother has octopus like tentacles: 

1. The visited websites and their cookies
2. The Internet service provider 
3. The Hackers 
4. PC repairer or buyer. 

Although our credit card details are secure, our IP addresses (the place from where you are surfing), personal emails, visited pages, the details in the filled forms, buying details and the stuff downloaded in our PCs are all ‘captured’. Unprotected data transfer is a feast for hackers. Although downloaded data preserved in our PCs help in catching law breakers, beyond exposing our hypocrisy, they damage us in more ways than one. 

Although these make us look so vulnerable, it is not that safeguarding factors aren’t available.  

  1. Proxy address use: In this method surfers use proxy IP address instead of their own IPs. The visited site sees the proxy IP’s location and easily gets fooled. 
  2.  Anonymous search: Although search engines keep our search data (that is how you get previously searched keywords in their pages), http://www.ixquick.com/ uniquely deletes data after 48 hours.
  3. Encrypted data transfer-  While use of wired modem is safer than wireless one, unprotected data from the latter is extremely dangerous- more so when bank transactions are done. While username and password protects data from routine offenders, a tunneled data transfer through the Net avoids prying eyes of both ISPs and hackers. Encryption of data offers the better protection. Credit cards use 28 bit encrypted data transfer- even a 3D system for added security.
       4. Hybrid system: Being a big company, and with multiple computers all over the world, TorProject combines multiple IP addresses with channelized data transfer. This isn’t good news for data capturing sites and hackers. Although this travel through many computers makes downloading time long, the anonymity it provides has helped many Journalists, scientists, politicians etc.

    5.  Data destruction: Data are like precious diamonds. However, they can bring disaster if placed in the wrong hands. They need deleting.
           The truth is that, when we use proxies, even if the data aren’t available to the websites, they are available to the proxies. This only makes it look like a simple shift of data from one company to another. This date needs deletion. While ISP gets the transit data, our HDs store all the received data. Remember, CIA agents dint torture Al qaeda’s agents to get information. They were lucky to get hold of its chief Bin Laden’s computer. No wonder, learning about Al qaeda’s weaknesses, financially weakened USA gleefully got an opportunity to withdraw its troupes from Afghanistan. Although wrong data- pedophile pics, in the right hands - computer repairer, can nab pedophiles, right data – bank details, in the wrong hands can bring disaster - more so, when the gadget is negligently thrown away or sold. 

Data can be destroyed at three levels: 
      1. At proxy level:
         One should make sure that data gets destroyed by the proxy company. Tor doesn’t store data. Other  companies destroy data when accounts are closed.
     2. At browser level:
Anonymous browser Hide my IP address, that uses Tor destroys data once the browser is closed.
     3.  At HD level:  
With deleting data not making much difference but flourishing data recovering software alone, as done by Jetico, data needs rewriting – that too thrice for a permanent deletion  

We are living in dangerous times, where greed for money is at its peak. In addition, unlike circulation of just the stories in the past, now many of our actions are recorded. They can be rewound and brought forward just like that. In this scenario, above methods can help one avoid future financial, if not, a social ruin.

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1 comment:

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