If you don’t care about the info collected about you by any website you decide to visit, then at least do this: “Disable third party cookies’.
Almost every website you’ll visit has ad banners, and they give you ad tracker cookies. Now not every cookie is bad. Some sites actually need cookies to be displayed correctly, and even speed up site rendering.
So what’s a cookie? A cookie is a text file which collects and stores information and can only be accessed by the website which created it. What information? That’s the key. It can collect whatever the cookie maker codes it to collect. That includes any information you enter in a web form, like name, address, credit information, etc. That’s why it’s important to deal with “https” sites, and there are browser extensions that can ‘force’ an https connection. That would be great if all sites had that possibility. The sad truth is, they don’t. Do not however deal with credit or other sensitive info on a non-https site.
So kill all the cookies!
Not necessary. The vast majority aren’t harmful. If you’re completely paranoid, know that no matter what, the site you’re going to (without certain interventions) will know your IP address. More exactly, it will know the IP address of the server you connect from. If you don’t believe me, go to http://www.whatismyip.com/ and you can see your IP address (make a record of it – you might need it sometime). OK, so what? They know my IP address. Well, your geographic address can be approximated through it. Your IP address can be static or dynamic… businesses usually have static ones for email, etc. and buy a block of them from their ISP’s. Yours might be static or dynamic (the ISP can shift your IP around to suit it’s needs).
So how do I negate that? One way to neutralize that (and tracking) is by using (as Carguy1 does) virtualizing software, by using a browser like Comodo Dragon (which uses Comodo’s secure portal to connect to the net). Another way is to use browser extensions like “Do Not Track Plus” or “Ghostery”. There are quite a few, and I’ve mentioned them in other articles.
Also, AVG has added an anti tracking tool to it’s free internet software (so update) however, it is a modulular part of the AVG suite, and you’ll have to install the suite to get it. You might have other antiviral/antimalware software, and that might give rise to conflicts.
Another way is “The Tor Project” whose basis (The Onion Project) was developed by the U.S. Navy. This software fragments and bounces your browsing requests (and email) around using hidden services which are explained there.
Tor protects you from “traffic analysis”:
‘Traffic analysis can be used to infer who is talking to whom over a public network. Knowing the source and destination of your Internet traffic allows others to track your behavior and interests. This can impact your checkbook if, for example, an e-commerce site uses price discrimination based on your country or institution of origin. It can even threaten your job and physical safety by revealing who and where you are. For example, if you're travelling abroad and you connect to your employer's computers to check or send mail, you can inadvertently reveal your national origin and professional affiliation to anyone observing the network, even if the connection is encrypted.
But there are also more powerful kinds of traffic analysis. Some attackers spy on multiple parts of the Internet and use sophisticated statistical techniques to track the communications patterns of many different organizations and individuals. Encryption does not help against these attackers, since it only hides the content of Internet traffic, not the headers. “ – Tor
If it helps, “Anonymous” used Tor software for nefarious purposes (they were ‘outed’ by other means – not by tracking). Tor is probably the best way to prevent tracking and hacking.
So how do you get Tor? You go here: https://www.torproject.org/about/overview.html.en and click the purple button. Donation is optional.
Hope this helped, and that you enjoy your weekend.