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.
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
If you use ‘password,’ one the worst passwords, as your password, fail to keep antivirus protection updated and don’t bother to deploy security patches to close critical vulnerabilities, then maybe you should consider working for the cybersecurity-clueless federal government; you’d fit right in, according to Senator Tom Coburn's cybersecurity and critical infrastructure report.
- 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.
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux - The Original Cloud Operating System
- Linux adoption is growing against a number of measures, such as the
number of supercomputers that run Linux and the size of the contributing...
- OpenStack Hype vs. Reality: CIO Quick Pulse
- Open-source architecture can enable IT departments to build infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) clouds running on standard hardware.
- Building a Bridge to the Next Generation Data Center
- Selecting a widely adopted operating system is a foundational component of a standardization strategy.
- OpenStack and Red Hat: IDC White paper
- Most OpenStack deployments are by public cloud providers that are early adopters of technology and use OpenStack in a do-it-yourself deployment and support... All Government IT White Papers
- Webinar: Building a Big Data solution that's production-ready Big data solutions are no longer just a nice-to-have.
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of...
- All Government IT Webcasts