Using Multiple Browsers

Discussion in 'privacy technology' started by roark37, Sep 1, 2015.

  1. roark37

    roark37 Registered Member

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    Hi. I was wondering if using different browsers for different specific things does anything to enhance privacy by minimizing tracking. For example is you used one browser only for Facebook and for nothing else would that impact how Facebook tracks you. Same idea for whatever web mail program you used say GMAIL only in another browser. If you then did all your regular internet surfing in a third browser would it matter at all compared to all of those things in one browser in terms of privacy and tracking? I was guessing it does not matter at all or very little but I really don't know.

    Also, is there any benefit privacy wise to using a portable browser run off USB?

    Thanks.
     
  2. amarildojr

    amarildojr Registered Member

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    I don't think that you would benefit from this as there is much more to privacy than using different browsers.

    For example, you probably use the same e-Mail address on Facebook and a bunch of other websites, not to mention you probably use a real name in some of your accounts, and probably talk to your real friends and they call you by your real name sometimes. Use the same IP for all this stuff too? Google most likely knows who you are, Microsoft too, and Facebook too, and since all this data will probably go to the NSA there will be links to you no matter how many browsers you use.
     
  3. Palancar

    Palancar Registered Member

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    Privacy and REAL NAME activity don't really co-exist, depending upon how you elect to define privacy. You could try and protect being hacked by someone sitting next to you in a coffee shop or similar, but at the Admin levels of Facebook, your Bank, etc... they know who you are, and already have your REAL NAME. Other than doing common sense things like protecting against a street level hack what would be the point of hiding from your Bank (example here)?

    One easy suggestion; rather than using many different browsers and trying to be "somebody else" all the time go the other route. Download the TBB (tor browser bundle) and you can use many independent ones on the same desktop to prevent any cross-talk at all. Advantage; you would look exactly like every other TBB user. So don't try and stand out as unique but be the same user as the other thousands upon thousands. Blending in is more tactful than trying the reverse.

    How many movies have you watched where the "bad guy" gets away by disappearing in plain site in a crowd. Get it?
     
  4. roark37

    roark37 Registered Member

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    Thanks for the replies but does using the TBB slow down regular surfing noticeable? And I am not sure what you mean by then using it for many independent ones on the same desktop to prevent cross-talk. Can you please clarify what that means? Thanks again.
     
  5. MisterB

    MisterB Registered Member

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    I use multiple browsers for multiple purposes in multiple computers. Some browsers I use for a single purpose. Chrome for Google Voice and Opera Blink for Facebook, for example. I don't have the same identity or account or email on them so I have to disagree with armirildojr, it can enhance privacy and security to use multiple browsers if you do it right. It is called compartimentilization. I am doing it for both security and privacy. You don't want to do Facebook, where you could possibly be exposed to malicious links, on the same browser you are using for Paypal or your personal email. Best to keep separate client browsers for all of them, and, if you really want to get serious, on separate computers. Both security and privacy are enhanced by compartimentilization and different browsers for different purposes is a good place to start.
     
  6. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    Yes, compartmentalization :thumb:

    In multiple VMs, on multiple hosts, isolated networks, via VPNs and Tor, etc, etc.
     
  7. Alhaitham

    Alhaitham Registered Member

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  8. driekus

    driekus Registered Member

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    I am heading in this direction too.

    I am only at the stage of multiple browsers, some proxied and some Tor.

    Completely agree that compartmentalization is the way to go.
     
  9. TheWindBringeth

    TheWindBringeth Registered Member

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    I think the "depending upon how you define privacy" point is critical. For some people, the goal may only be to keep one class of activity separate from their real identity. Someone with alternative beliefs/lifestyle, living in an highly intolerant culture/family, could be an example. Such a person (Person1) might choose to strongly isolate the controversial activity, while at the same time choosing to ignore all other privacy issues. Some other person (Person2) might decide that they have no special class of activity that needs to be strongly isolated, but they do want to take steps to protect their privacy in general. Apart from keeping some things separate from their real identity, Person1 doesn't have to worry about what is tied to their real identity, with whom it is shared, how it is used, etc. Person2 does have to worry about those things.

    Person2 should be thinking about compartmentalization techniques at all times and in all contexts. Even in those (hopefully minimized number of) cases where they have established an account that is hard-tied to their real name and identity. WRT a bank, and off the top of my head:
    • Use unique username, password, and security questions/answers
    • Give them a unique email address
    • Don't give them your cell phone number
    • Withhold as much other personal information as possible, especially if it could be used as a lookup.
    • Be selective about what services you use and what information you expose to a specific bank. You could, for example, establish a checking account for writing checks but refrain from using the associated debit/credit card for purchases. Separate online bill pay from check writing. Separate mortgage banking from investment banking from other banking. Etc.
    • Be selective about what services you use when those services are provided by third-parties. Common examples include bill pay, two-factor authentication services, alerts and email marketing, CDNs.
    • Don't link accounts to other accounts, or at least be extremely selective about doing so.
    • Don't use "all your information in one place" type features where you enter information about accounts and/or assets elsewhere.
    • Configure your browser to only use HTTPS when interacting with the bank's servers (and any related servers).
    • Avoid or be very selective about antimalware tools that would capture activity at the bank's website and send information to a third-party.
    • Avoid or be very selective about using apps/app-stores/app-platforms that would create a third-party exposure and/or leak more information to the bank.
    • Carefully examine browser requests/responses when interacting with the bank's website. Look for third-party exposures, and take steps to block as many of those as is possible but without breaking genuine security features. Also, protect against other sites that might try to trigger requests to your bank.
    • Some, if not many, financial sites are engaging in browser/device fingerprinting. Take steps to assure that your fingerprint will be different in other contexts.
    • Take steps to address the issue of sticky/static IP Address and/or prefix.
    • Check emails from them, to determine if a third-party is involved and whether STARTTLS is being used.
    • Carefully review terms/policies, explicitly opt-out of every form of data sharing possible. Double check those preferences periodically.
    Will such steps stop the bank from leveraging name/address/home-phone/SS# when sharing info with tax authorities and other government agencies? No. Exchanging some info with credit reporting companies? No. Exchanging some info with joint marketing partners? No. Exchanging information with service providers it uses and thus exposes you to? No. Sharing information in response to a valid subpoena or other court order? No. Having accessing to its own records about your finances? No. We aren't achieving true and full privacy by doing such things. We are simply taking logical, prudent, steps to break some and reduce other types of data gathering/exchanges/correlations. Basically, we are doing what we can do to prevent a bad situation [that we can't avoid] from becoming worse. I think "browser compartmentalization" can play a useful role, but there is obviously more to it than that.
     
  10. deBoetie

    deBoetie Registered Member

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    I can recommend a little trick I use for compartmentalisation and services such as banking. A little usb stick can run a Live distribution, including persistence (I use Puppy for example). The trick is to fire up the system when browsing, then immediately remove the usb stick before navigation to the site(s). Each session is only for that one site. The system cannot be written to, even for that visit. But you can, if you wish, update it or add new software, by keeping the stick in and saving in a session where you do NOT browse or do anything else. I do not have ANY third party stuff on the system (including AV or plugins) which might be a risk for exfiltration or privacy violations.
    So basically, this usb stick is only used for banking and has no persistence stored on it at all.
    Alternatively, you can use a Live DVD but this does not allow any customisation or updating.
    As @TheWindBringeth notes, nothing can protect unavoidable back-end correlations.
     
  11. Palancar

    Palancar Registered Member

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    I think many of the posts that have entered this thread since yours have touched on that. Basically, as mentioned by others, a browser that is dedicated to ONLY one site would always be "clean" of any other activities. I recommended the TBB (tor browser bundle) because they do an excellent job of keeping almost all activity confined to their browser bundle. Its small enough that you can keep a template and start fresh often if you want to. In my example you could place several (e.g. 4 of them on your desktop) and dedicate each to a site. You could have one for here at Wilders and then be certain while you are here that no trace from the site you just left is on the Wilder's TBB on your end. Make sense? Further the TBB has ultra security config's and uses TOR adding 3 hops to your connection. It comes with a liability of speed loss. On my end I get around 6-8 meg using TOR most of the time. That is a small fraction of my open ISP connection, and in candor I don't hit TOR until I've already gone through a couple of VPN's.

    If you want, a great place to start is VM's. They are actually different OS's (machines) that run independently of each other, and are supported by your host operating system. If I were starting out in "privacy school" and was on a one operating system computer, my first step would be learning to create and run virtual machines. The security and privacy benefits will pay dividends that far outweigh the time lost to educate yourself.
     
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