Hack 21. Make Yourself Anonymous
Don't let anyone know that
you're on the Web.
Here are some ways to reduce the amount of information that web sites
and other onlookers find out about you.
2.12.1. Basic Web Surfing Strategies
If you want maximum privacy, follow all of these rules:
Never fill in web forms that request names, addresses, credit card
information, or any geographic or demographic information. Never fill
in online questionnaires. Never join a singles site. Never buy
Never download any programs, demos, or novelty animations from the
Never provide your email address. Never use your email address in
bulletin boards, newsgroups, message boards, IRC, or anywhere else.
Don't use Windows or Linux/Unix with automatic
operating system updates turned on.
Never use an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that supplies you with a
fixed IP address; it should be a DHCP address that's
different each time you use it.
If having a known IP address or a known IP subnet bothers you,
consider using services such as Anonymizer (http://www.anonymizer.com) for maximum
anonymity. Before using such services, you must first persuade
yourself that they are an organization that will credibly protect
your privacy. You are using them as a portal for all your activities,
2.12.2. Firefox Changes to Support Anonymity
In addition to careful web surfing, here are some concrete changes
you can make to Firefox:
Turn off all cookie support by checking the box in the Privacy panel
of the Options dialog box.
Carefully examine the installation for each plug-in you use.
Don't let the plug-in send personal information back
to those who deliver plug-in content. Ideally, delete all plug-ins,
except the default plug-in file, from the Firefox profile and the
install areas. The default plug-in file is named
npnul32.dll (Windows) or
Examine your configuration of Adobe Acrobat carefully.
Don't let it connect to servers or send form data.
Review the extensions you've chosen to install;
uninstall any that might have server connectivity.
Stop all secret network activity [Hack #13] .
Finally, you can fool web sites into thinking you're
using another browser. If you do so, the content set by the sites
might change and the page display might not be exactly what you
expected. This preference changes the User Agent that identifies
general.useragent.override /* set to string */
A typical string for a Windows version of Firefox reads:
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; WinXP; rv:1.7.3) Gecko/20040913 Firefox/0.10.1
For best results, leave the words Mozilla and
Gecko intact. Here's the string
for Internet Explorer 6.0 on Windows XP (you can masquerade as that
browser if you have nothing better to do):
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1)