Are you concerned about your privacy on the internet? You are not alone. Not only do some fear people hacking into our private information from one thousand miles away, but many are concerned about our own Government using our own information against us. Long gone are the days when we can write down something extremely private, and then just place it in our pocket or under our bed for safe keeping. But with the new age of information, are those days really gone? Maybe not!
Most of us use a computer or phone to go about our daily online business. Since our society is beginning to lean more towards phones, we lack the bells and whistles that we’re used to, mostly because a mobile device has such a user interface, that it requires certain private information be stored inside for later use.
Desktop and laptop computers aren’t much different. Sure you have more control over the operating system while using a PC, but the risks can be even greater. Have you ever looked for a product on Amazon, and then noticed that every single ad you see thereafter seems to be trying to sell you a product based exactly on what you were searching for? This type of information stores inside of cookies or adware. You are literally being spied on, so to speak.
We have been provided with technological marvels that help us with our daily lives, but in today’s world, they also record our daily lives. What makes this worst, is that it doe this without our even knowing most of the time. Of course, computers store so much information, that we are unable to keep track of exactly what they store inside. Not to mention that it’s not like I can just write something down, put it in a drawer and assume that since nobody has access to that drawer, then nobody has access to my most private information. Not anymore, now with the latest popularity of WiFi, hackers can snatch your privacy out of thin air.
As I write this article, I look at all of the other activities that I perform on this computer. I buy things using my credit card, I log into my bank accounts and email. I use search engines and talk to people in order to obtain information about what is going on in my daily life. All one has to do is gain access to my computer or phone, directly or indirectly, legally or illegally, to find out exactly what I do on a day to day basis.
Your own computer isn’t all that you have to worry about, what happens if you check your email using another person’s computer? Sure web browsers often ask you if you want the to save your passwords, but during the routine process of checking your email, you may be giving that software permission to do so without even realizing it. It is also noteworthy that many browsers make it extremely easy to retrieve the password that you used, and which websites that you used them on.
If you’ve been paying attention, then at this point you are probably digging through your browser history, or examining one of many hundreds of files inside your computer to ensure that your privacy is safe. Relax, because there is a better way.
For those worried about privacy, the solution can be summed up in two words, Linux and a flash drive. What I’m suggesting is what I’ve come to call Linux on a stick. Let me explain.
After so many years of users wanting our operating systems to get bigger and better, some programmers have striven to do just the opposite. This means of course, using a smaller operating system on a bigger computer. There are many advantages to doing this because over the years the software has always been just a little ahead of the computer hardware. So when you take an operating system that is more Lightweight and place it on a computer composed of modern hardware, you get more than just lighting speed. If done correctly, you get a vault that fits inside your pocket.
The developers I mentioned above use an old operating system called Linux. It is designed to run in what is referred to as RAM (Random Access Memory). The entire operating system runs inside of this memory, which is wiped clean each time you restart the computer. On a traditional computer, your information is stored on the hard drive, but with a smaller Linux distribution, it is stored in RAM member.
So at this point, you might be thinking, But if it forgets everything, I’ll constantly have to retype information over and over again. This is not true. At this time, there are several Linux distributions that are specifically designed to install to a USB flash drive. Once it is created, you merely have to insert this flash drive into a computer, and then turn the computer on. Instead of booting to the hard drive’s operating system, instead, it will boot to the operating system contained on your personal flash drive. Sometimes you need to tell the computer to boot to the flash drive instead of the hard drive by pressing a specific hot key, but this becomes habit easily enough.
When you are finished, whether it be your own computer or a friend’s computer, you have the option of saving your personal data to the flash drive along with any changes to the Linux operating system. If you choose to not save your data, then there is no evidence left that you were ever on that computer. If you choose to save your data, then there is still no evidence left that you were ever on that computer, because that data is now resting in your pocket, a safe or in the palm of your hand, on the flash drive.
It should be noted though, that IP address information, along with any information posted under your own personal internet accounts (Online email, Facebook, etc.) may still be recorded and stored in the online cloud. But still, the actual hard copy, meaning the tool that was actually used to introduce this information, is either non-existent, or in the palm of your hand. If your computer is stolen, but the flash drive you use is secure, then most of your information is safe, period. Your searches are not stored directly on the machine, nor are your passwords or other private information.
To learn more about creating a Linux Bootable Flash Drive, check out http://www.pendrivelinux.com. I personally prefer Puppy Linux since it has so much software already preloaded into the distribution, but more advanced users may wish to try Tiny Core Linux as it is much smaller and therefore faster than others that I have tried.
This article is offered for educational purposes only, and in no way does the author encourage or condone its use in participating in illegal activities.