Digital crooks – what cyber security experts and law enforcement officials politely call bad actors – use elements of modern cyber communication to track your online activities. These elements are hidden in plain sight, but they are easy to reveal once you know where to find them.

You can bounce around false leads to disguise your activities or at least leave behind some misdirections to keep potential mischief-makers off your trail. Hiding your online activity is not illegal if you are not engaging in criminal activity.

When you use your computer, mobile phone or tablet to access the Internet, you receive an Internet Protocol (IP) address assigned to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and a Media Access Control (MAC) protocol that identifies each fragment. MAC) are easily visible via the address. of the computing hardware you use. We’ll cover these again in a minute.

The same is true when you use a mobile device with cellular connectivity because it pings cell towers around you to provide a connection. Therefore, surfing the web or using email on your cellular phone or tablet presents another access channel to your IP address. But your mobile device’s IP address is different, giving determined people enough of two ways to find and track you.

Keep in mind that your ISP (both fixed and mobile) has direct access to your location when you are online. They may also monitor your digital activities and may be ordered by law enforcement agencies to reveal that information under certain conditions. Even the websites you visit can tell that it is you and what you do while you are there. Other people who snoop on you can do the same.

Read on to know how you can prevent others from tracking you digitally. Then, apply these strategies to prevent bad actors from using your IP address to load malware onto your devices, serve you with ransomware, hack into your financial accounts, or steal your entire online identity. Read on to know how you can prevent others from tracking you digitally.

network basics

The Internet consists of different pathways that are linked together. An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a unique set of numbers that identifies a device connected to this series of networks. When you subscribe to a service provider, you are assigned a unique IP address, which may change as your device connects and disconnects.

A media access control (MAC) address is a 12-digit hexadecimal number displayed with a colon or hyphen separating each two digits. Hardware manufacturers assign MAC addresses to each computer, tablet, and phone that end users cannot change.

Once your IP address is determined, it indicates where your connection originated and the source of sending your emails. IP addresses are assigned to companies rather than countries. It is difficult to locate a location just by looking at a series of numbers. But an IP lookup tool makes it very easy to extract information from an IP address to find you.

Unlike IP addresses, routers typically use dynamic IP addresses, meaning they are not fixed or permanent. So it is easy to interfere with bad actors discovering its location. Every time you power it off and on, the router grabs a new IP address on the ISP’s network.

Secure, but not completely hidden

Remember that you want to hide your physical location to thwart other people’s attempts to hack or usurp your identity. It’s not our goal to hide illegal activity, and nothing here will hide you from your ISP or the police.

Network managers can always track your online activity, and they have your address from when you enrolled with them for service. Law enforcement agencies can work with ISPs to watch for suspicious online activity and find out who and where you are.

Also, consider that some apps query your IP address to learn the location of your device in order to help serve you personalized content. Hackers can create websites or apps that contain links that obtain IP addresses, which is one way individuals and companies become victims. Knowing your IP address enables evil actors to hack into your computer, attack company servers, or stalk an individual.

How to cover your digital tracks

Knowing how to avoid exposing your IP address at home or on the go will make it much more difficult for anyone with ill intentions to target your location. Protect yourself from the potential hassle of anyone knowing your IP address by using these strategies.

Premium Virtual Private Network Services

A VPN funnels your Internet connection through its own servers connected to its own network pathway. It hides your IP address so that you can surf the web anonymously.

Someone trying to track you can only see the VPN you’re using, not where you’re connecting to that VPN. This includes a willingness to help law enforcement or the VPN company without court intervention. Be aware that not all VPNs are created equal. Free services often sell your data to cover costs, and they may not encrypt your data.

web proxy services

Like VPNs, web proxies route your connection through their own servers. This filtering hides your IP address. Proxy servers – unless you pay for the good one – have some drawbacks. For example, hiding an IP address is not the same as hiding it completely. You set up a proxy connection in your web browser settings, but that doesn’t stop ISPs and tech-savvy hackers from looking up your IP address.

Some web proxy services to check out include Kproxy, Whoer.Net, HMA, Zyte, GeoSurf, Anonymouse, and Proxysite.

Verify Public Wi-Fi Security

Many legitimate businesses, airports, hotels, restaurants, etc. offer Wi-Fi to guests as a courtesy to customers.

Typically, however, public Wi-Fi hotspots are not encrypted and therefore less secure to use. They also pose a security risk because it is easy for bad actors to set up copycat connections to lure users in.

Be sure to verify that a legitimate organization actually sponsors any public Wi-Fi you use. Then you can probably safely connect to it without exposing your IP address.

Better yet, use a VPN when using public Wi-Fi.

use specific browsers

Some web browsers provide free built-in VPN through their own servers. Opera is one of them. Perhaps the most well-known browser for hiding your online activity is the TOR browser. Its name means The Onion Router. TOR is free to download and use as a way to hide your IP address. It connects you to the TOR network and sends your data through random relay servers hosted by volunteers around the world.

Email Alternative: Go Anonymous

Most people don’t realize that every email they send is the equivalent of posting their home address online. It is a flashing beacon that alerts others to your base location.

To further hide this homing signal, use an anonymous email service. It gives false signals by masking the email header pasted on top of your email.

It blocks more than just your IP address. The email headers contain the IP addresses of all the computer systems that relay your message between the sender and the receiver, providing all the handy email metadata. Hackers use these details to trace the source of emails.

To get them out of your way, consider these two options:

  • Send your email through a dedicated anonymous email provider like ProtonMail, Starmail, Tutanota, Cyber ​​Atlantis, Guerrilla Mail, or others. These services hide your IP address and make it more difficult for anyone to access your real location.
  • Use a fake email account. Known as burner, throwaway, temporary and disposable email addresses, most work the same way. The service generates a random email address and sends the response from its servers to your specified real email address, which is not known to the sender or the responder.

This approach lets you sign up or register for various website programs without revealing your actual contact information. Some well-known fake email providers are 10MinuteMail, Temp-Mail, Minute Inbox, and EmailOnDeck. They all provide you with a new, unique email address.

be cyber safe

More than ever, the information superhighway creates on-ramps for digital attacks and traffic turns into dangerous places. You can fight back against cybercriminals with these tips to hide your online visits and protect your digital security.

Vint Cerf, known as the father of the Internet, raised some eyebrows on Monday when he urged investors to be cautious when investing in businesses built around conversational chatbots.

Bots still make a lot of mistakes, stressed Cerf, who is a vice president at Google, which has an AI chatbot called Bard in development.

When he asked ChatGPT, a bot developed by OpenAI, to write his bio, there were a lot of things wrong with it, he told the audience at the TechSurge Deep Tech Summit, which was organized by venture capital firm Celesta and the Computer History Museum. was organized in in Mountain View, California.

“It’s like a salad shooter. It mixes [facts] Together because it doesn’t know better,” Cerf said, according to Silicon Angle.

He advised investors not to endorse a technology because it sounds cool or is generating “buzz”.

Cerf also recommended that they keep ethical considerations in mind when investing in AI.

“Engineers like me should be responsible for trying to find a way to tame some of these technologies, so that they are less likely to cause trouble,” Silicon Angle explained.

need human supervision

As Cerf points out, some pitfalls exist for businesses to join the AI ​​race.

Greg Sterling, co-founder of Near Media, a news, commentary and analysis website, said inaccuracy and misinformation, bias and evasive results are all potential risks faced when using AI.

“The risk depends on the use cases,” Sterling told TechNewsWorld. “Digital agencies that rely heavily on ChatGPT or other AI tools to create content or complete work for clients can produce results that are sub-optimal or harmful to the client.”

However, he stressed that checks and balances and strong human oversight can mitigate those risks.

Mark N. Vena, president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in San Jose, California, cautioned that small businesses that don’t have expertise in the technology need to be careful before taking the AI ​​plunge.

“At the very least, any company that incorporates AI into the way it does business needs to understand its implications,” Vena told TechNewsWorld.

“Privacy – particularly at the client level – is clearly a huge area of ​​concern,” he continued. “The terms and conditions for use need to be extremely clear, as well as the obligation the AI ​​capability must produce the material or open the business to potential liability.”

morality requires exploration

While Cerf wants AI users and developers to keep ethics in mind when bringing AI products to market, it can be a daunting task.

“Most businesses using AI are focused on efficiency and time or cost savings,” Sterling said. “For most of them, ethics will be a secondary concern or even a non-consideration.”

Vena said that some ethical issues need to be addressed before AI can be widely adopted. He pointed to the education sector as an example.

“Is it ethical for a student to submit a paper extracted entirely from an AI tool?” He asked. “Even if the material is not plagiarism in the strict sense, as it may be ‘original,’ I believe that most schools – especially at the high school and college levels – But back off.”

“I’m not sure news media outlets would be thrilled about the use of ChatGPT by journalists reporting on real-time events that often rely on abstract judgments that an AI tool might struggle with,” he said.

“Ethics must play a strong role,” he continued, “which is why there is a need for an AI code of conduct that businesses and even the media must be forced to agree to, as well as compliance conditions that Must form part of the Terms and Conditions when using the AI ​​Tool.

unintended consequences

It’s important for anyone involved in AI to make sure they’re doing what they’re doing responsibly, said Ben Kobren, head of communications and public policy at Niva, an AI-based search engine based in Washington, D.C. maintained.

“A lot of the unintended consequences of previous technologies were the result of an economic model that was not aligning business incentives with the end user,” Cobren told TechNewsWorld. “Companies must choose between serving an advertiser or the end user. Most of the time, the advertiser will win.”

“The free internet allowed for incredible innovation, but it came at a cost,” he continued. “That cost was one person’s privacy, one person’s time, one person’s attention.”

“The same is going to happen with AI,” he said. “Will AI be implemented in a business model that aligns with users or advertisers?”

Cerf’s pleas for caution appear to be aimed at slowing the entry of AI products into the market, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

“ChatGPT moved the industry faster than anyone expected,” Cobren said.

“The race is on, and there’s no going back,” Sterling said.

“There are risks and benefits to getting these products to market quickly,” he said. “But market pressure and financial incentives to act now will outweigh moral restraint. The biggest companies talk about ‘responsible AI,’ but they are forging ahead regardless.”

transformative technology

In his remarks at the TechSurge Summit, Cerf also reminded investors that not everyone using AI technologies will use them for their intended purposes. He reportedly said, “They will try to do what is to their advantage and not yours.”

“Governments, NGOs and industry need to work together to develop regulations and standards that must be created to prevent abuse in these products,” Sterling said.

“The challenge and the problem is that market and competitive dynamics move faster and are far more powerful than policy and government processes,” he continued. “But regulation is coming. It’s just a question of when and what it looks like.

Hoden Omar, a senior AI policy analyst at the Center for Data Innovation, a think tank that studies the intersection of data, technology and public policy in Washington, DC, remarked that policymakers have been grappling with AI accountability for some time.

“Developers need to be responsible when they build AI systems,” Omar told TechNewsWorld. “They should ensure that such systems are trained on representative datasets.”

However, he added that it will be the operators of AI systems who will make the most important decisions about how AI systems affect society.

“It’s clear that AI is here to stay,” Kobren said. “It’s going to change many aspects of our lives, especially how we access, consume and interact with information on the Internet.”

“This is the most transformative and exciting technology we’ve seen since the iPhone,” he concluded.

Navigating the Internet can be a troublesome journey. Bad actors constantly hide behind emails, websites and social media invitations with the intention of exploiting uninformed users. Even your Wi-Fi router and the now-ubiquitous QR code are danger points. Add to that, the never-ending virus and malware threats.

Computer and mobile device users are often unaware of the danger zone. However, the Internet does not require a continuous journey through the Badlands. To stay safe online, it’s important to know what to avoid and how to protect yourself.

Here are five things you have under your control to help keep your digital activity safe.

1. QR Codes, Easy But Potentially Harmful

QR code for TechNewsWorld.com
A secure QR code for TechNewsWorld.com

These postage-sized image links can be convenient for websites. Simply point your smartphone’s camera at it and instantly visit a website, tech support location, discount offer on purchases, or restaurant menu.

However, QR codes can also take you to a nefarious place where malware or worse is waiting. QR codes can be programmed to link to anything, putting your privacy and security at great risk.

Think before scanning the QR code. If the code is displayed on a website or printed document that you trust, it is probably a safe one. If not, or you’re unsure, check it out.

You can download reputed QR reader apps that will do security checks at the endpoint of destination of the QR code. One such security tool I use is the Trend Micro QR Scanner app, which is available for Android and iOS.

2. Avoid ‘Unsubscribe’ Email Scams

This is a popular ongoing scam that has a high success rate for hackers. Potential victims receive an email asking for a product offer or other business invitation. The opt-out action move is enticing, looks familiar, and feels appropriate. “Don’t want to receive our emails? Click here to unsubscribe,” it prompts.

Sometimes annoying repetitive emails asking if you want to unsubscribe from future emails. Some even provide a link for you to unsubscribe.

Do not select any option. Clicking on the link or replying confirms your active address.

Never enter your email address in the “Unsubscribe me” field. More senders will follow.

A better way to remove unwanted email, especially from an unknown sender, is to mark it as spam. This moves it to the spam folder. You can add that sender to your email program’s block list, or set a filter to automatically remove it before it reaches your inbox.

Finally, check out the free service Unroll.me. There you can unsubscribe from unwanted emails, keep others, or receive the rest in the Daily Digest.

3. Lockout Facebook Hackers

Other villains try to usurp Facebook accounts. Hackers can change your password, email address, phone number and even add a security code to lock you out of a pirated account. Before trouble strikes, be proactive to prevent these situations. Facebook provides the following security settings that you need to enable.

Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) to require your login approval on a different device.

To do so, log into your Facebook account on a desktop computer and navigate to Settings & Privacy. Next, select Security and login. Then scroll down and edit the Two-Factor Authentication option.

Facebook Two-Factor Authentication Settings

You will need to enter your Facebook password to complete this step.

Activate these two additional features to block Facebook hackers:

  • Enable the code generator feature in the Facebook mobile app
  • Set up login alerts in your email

First, open the Facebook mobile app and tap on the magnifying glass, enter the word “code generator” and tap the search icon. Tap on the Result Code Generator to navigate to the next screen, then tap the “Turn on Code Generator” button to receive a 6 digit code that changes every 30 seconds. You will need to enter this code within that short amount of time to login to your account on another device.

Next, set an alert about unfamiliar logins. You can do this from a computer or mobile device.

  • Computer: Go to Settings & Privacy > Settings > Security & Login > Receive alerts about unrecognized logins (see screenshot above).
  • mobile application: Tap Menu > Settings & privacy gear icon > Settings. Then tap Password & Security. Next, scroll down to Set up additional security > Receive alerts about unfamiliar logins > Tap to select your preferred notification methods.

If you’re having trouble logging in, visit facebook.com/login/identify to have the problem fixed. If you are unable to log in there, go to this Facebook help page instead and fill out the request form for Facebook to review your account. You will need to answer a few security questions to prove your identity. This may include providing proof of ID, like a picture of a driver’s license.

4. Secure Your Wi-Fi Router

The influx of people working remotely since Covid has put home Wi-Fi routers among the target sites of hackers. As a result, malware attacks on home Wi-Fi networks are on the rise because residential setups often lack the level of security and protection found on enterprise networks.

One nasty attack tool, called ZuoRAT, is a remote access Trojan designed to hack into small office/home office routers. It can affect macOS, Windows, and Linux computers.

With it, hackers can collect your data and hijack any site you visit on your network. One of the worst factors of ZuroRAT is that once your router is infected, it can infect other routers to spread the hackers’ reach.

Follow these steps to better secure your home/office Wi-Fi network:

  • Be sure to enable WPA2 or WPA3 encryption on your router. The default factory setting is often the old WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) security protocol, or is set to none. See the user manual or the router manufacturer’s website for instructions.
  • Change your router’s SSID (Service Set Identifier) ​​and password. It is critical. Typically, the factory setting shows the make or model of the router and has a universal password such as 0000 or 1234. Change the name of the SSID to not identify you easily. Avoid names that include all or part of your name or address. Make sure the password is very strong.
  • For added security, change the router’s password regularly. Yes, this is a major inconvenience as you will also have to update the password on all your devices that use that Wi-Fi network. But considering that it will keep hackers away, it is well worth the trouble.
  • Keep the router’s firmware up to date. Refer to the user manual and/or the manufacturer’s website for steps on how to download the latest update.

general question
How do I create a password that is hard to hack?

The strongest passwords have all these characteristics:

  • Long – the more characters, the better
  • mix of upper-case and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters
  • No jargon words or anything related to personal information

Pro Tip: When using a password generator, always replace at least a few characters from the random result to create your final credential.

5. Beware of the phony tech support plans

Some fraudsters call you on the phone to tell you they are a tech support department working for a well-known computer or software company. The caller claims to have detected a virus on your device or made a call in response to an alert from your computer of malware. The scammer offers to fix it if you only provide your credit card number.

Keep phone. Your computer is not infected.

A modified version of this tech support scam is a text or email claiming the same details. do not respond. Just delete the message and move on.

You can also browse the web when a pop-up message crashes on your screen. I have received too loud Audio alerts warn me that my computer is in danger and should not be turned off without responding for help.

In all these cases, scammers want to scare you into following their instructions. The action they seek to fix the alleged problem will damage your bank account and possibly let them transmit the actual infection.

Follow these best practices to protect yourself from tech support fraud:

  • never Allow a scammer to trick you into visiting a website or clicking on a link.
  • never Agree to a remote connection by the so called technical support agent who initiated contact with you.
  • never Provide payment information for technical support you haven’t started. Legitimate tech companies will not call you and ask for payment to fix a problem detected on your device.

If you suspect that your computer has a virus or malware problem, contact a self-repair center. You probably already have a support plan or active warranty from where you bought the computer. If you have not contacted a technical support company, the call or message you have received is illegitimate.