Users flock to anonymizing services after NSA snooping reports
However, even vendors offering those services can't guarantee 100% success in shielding data from government surveillance
IDG News Service - Companies offering anonymous Web browsing and communication services are seeing a huge increase in business since recent news leaks about the National Security Agency's mass data collection and surveillance activities.
Disconnect Search, an anonymous Web search service that launched Monday, had more than 400,000 searches by users by Thursday morning, said Casey Oppenheim, its co-founder. Disconnect, which also offers users a service to block companies from tracking them online, started working on Disconnect Search more than a year ago, before the first leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were published in June.
But Oppenheim said the continuing revelations about NSA data collection are driving users to the search service, he said by email. Web searches are among the most personal information that companies or the government could collect about someone, he said.
"In comparison to search surveillance, I'd probably rather have my phone tapped or my email tracked because I'm filtering myself when I communicate with others in those ways," he said. "Most people don't filter their searches and don't understand how their queries are being tracked, saved, and turned into profiles that are associated with their real names and/or their IP address."
Disconnect Search, a browser extension, allows Web users to continue to use their search engine of choice, but the service routes search queries through Disconnect's servers. The service also prevents search engines from passing keywords to sites that are visited from the search engine's results, and it encrypts all queries.
Another anonymous search service, DuckDuckGo, has seen a steep increase in searches since the Snowden leaks. In May, the month before the first Snowden leaks were published, DuckDuckGo users searched 54.4 million times. In September, users searched 116.7 million times, said a spokesman for the company. DuckDuckGo doesn't collect or store personal information, meaning it doesn't know how many users it has.
Tor, the anonymous browsing project, also has seen a steep increase in use since the Snowden leaks, but it's not easy to determine how much interest the NSA leaks are driving to the project, said Roger Dingledine, Tor project leader.
"We've certainly seen anecdotal growth in interest in Tor, but we don't have any stats to show that more people are using it than before," he added.
Silent Circle, an encrypted communications company co-founded by PGP creator Phil Zimmermann, has also seen an increase in interest since the NSA leaks, but the company didn't immediately have hard numbers.
In fact, Silent Circle decided to close down its secure email service shortly after learning that Lavabit, a secure email service used by Snowden, suspended operations instead of complying with U.S. government demands to turn over its Secure Sockets Layer private key.
This state transportation department uses computer science students from a local university as programming interns, and everyone is happy with the arrangement -- until one intern learns how to bring down the mainframe.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
- This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Client Management Tools
- The client management tool market is maturing and evolving to adapt to consumerization, desktop virtualization, and an ongoing need to improve efficiency.
- Audit Ready and Asset Optimized: The Solid Promise of an Intelligent Software Asset Management Solution
- In this paper Frost & Sullivan examines the benefits of enterprise-grade Software Asset Management solutions, and how these solutions serve as the convergence...
- Pragmatic Endpoint Management: Empowering an SMB Workforce in the Age of Mobility
- Lacking the time for proper training and education, SMB administrators often resort to taking shortcuts to keep their environment running.This paper discusses the...
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Application Security
- The market for application security testing is changing rapidly. Technology trends, such as mobile applications, advanced Web applications and dynamic languages, are forcing... All Government IT White Papers
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Mobile Security: Containerizing Enterprise Data In this on-demand webinar, Fixmo's Lee Cocking, VP of corporate strategy, explains why Apple-ization trends like mobility and "bring-your-own-device" (BYOD) are driving the...
- Endpoint Data Management: Protecting the Perimeter of the Internet of Things Not surprisingly, "Internet of Things" (IoT) and Big Data present new challenges AND opportunities for enterprise IT. Teams need to harness, secure and...
- How to Protect Enterprise Data Yet Enable Secure Access for End Users Learn how BYOD, Big Data and the use of rogue applications and devices is putting corporate data at risk, best practices from IT...
- All Government IT Webcasts