With news that Phorm having been ditched by US & UK ISP's is looking to make a comeback quoth the WSJ:
The technology, known as "deep packet inspection," is capable of reading and analyzing the "packets" of data traveling across the Internet. It can be far more powerful than "cookies" and other techniques commonly used to track people online because it can be used to monitor all online activity, not just Web browsing. Spy agencies use the technology for surveillance.
Now, two U.S. companies, Kindsight Inc. and Phorm Inc., are pitching deep packet inspection services as a way for Internet service providers to claim a share of the lucrative online ad market.
It's time to lock down your browser and secure it against prying eyes.
There is only so much you can do to get around deep packet inspection, but the following should go some way mitigate the effects if not the cause.
First you're going to need Chrome which is a Browser made by Google. If you don't understand what any of that means go read this I'll wait :)
So now you know what the internet, browsers and web apps are, we'll continue.
Like I said, this is based on Chrome, though I imagine you can do much the same on Mozilla/Firefox or Safari, etc. But that you'll have to work out on your own, Google is your friend :)
Why Chrome? Because it's a cutting edge HTML5 capable browser built from the ground up for speed. It's other advantages are that it will translate any web page on the fly into English, (other languages too, but this guide is is in English :) this may not sound like much of a big deal, but if you're a news geek, or just want to see what people are saying about you in a foreign language on facebook, this is a revelation. There is also an inline translator, (which we'll get to later) that will allow you to translate text that is user generated or pulled out of a database into a frame, (like ebay) Chrome is of course built by Google, who contrary to popular belief are on the side of the angels, well, at least in comparison to the founders of planet facebook. it's updated often, has built in security features, and is simple to configure. You can read about other features here.
Chrome is available for the three primary operating systems, PC, Mac & Linux, and comes in a range of flavours. Described thus:
- Stable channel. Everyone is on the Stable channel when they first install Google Chrome. The Stable channel is updated with features and fixes once they have been thoroughly tested in the Beta channel. If you want a rock solid browser but don't need the latest features, the Stable channel is for you.
- Beta channel. People who like to use and help refine the latest features subscribe to the Beta channel. Every month or so, we promote stable and complete features from the Dev channel to the Beta channel. The Beta channel is more stable than Dev, but may lack the polish one expects from a finished product.
- Dev channel. This developer preview channel is where ideas get tested (and sometimes fail). The Dev channel can be very unstable at times, and new features usually require some manual configuration to be enabled. Still, simply using Dev channel releases is an easy (practically zero-effort) way for anyone to help improve Google Chrome.
- Canary build. This build is for people who want to help test Google Chrome and contribute to its development. The Canary build is updated even more frequently than the Dev channel and is not tested before being released. Because the Canary build may at times be unusable, it cannot be set as your default browser and may be installed in addition to any of the above channels of Google Chrome. By default, it also reports crashes and usage statistics to Google (you can disable this on the download page).
So, I'd recommend the dev channel, but by all means "pick your poison" from the descriptions above. You may be asked to agree to the end user licence, (tick a box) then you click the "accept" button and it should open, run & install chrome. At least on Windows. On a Mac it should give you the standard disk image which you mount and then drag the program to the apps folder. Linux can be complicated but here's how to install it on Ubuntu from the command line.
Once you have it installed launch it. It should then import your data from whatever other browser you were using, and then we'll configure it.
See the spanner in the top right corner? Click on it and select "Preferences" from the menu. This will open up a window. Select the last tab labelled "Under the Bonnet" Tick every box up-to (and including) translate. Then click the "content settings" button. This will open another window onto the cookie settings, tick both boxes, then click the "close" button. Finally click on the "close" button on the main preferences window. We'll come back to this briefly later, but this is enough for now.
It would be useful if you opened this page on chrome too, so you can just click the links, or we can do the rest manually.
Next we'll install extensions. What's an extension? Click here. Once you're ready to install, you can either click the spanner, go down to "Tools" the click "Extensions" this will open a blank tab with the word Boo on it, (here) then click the link, or you can just click here with your mouse wheel, and the page will open in a new tab.
There are many extensions, but here I'm only going to tell you about ones that will get rid of ads, stop people tracking you and the like, and how to encrypt your Google searches, etc.
Into the search box type adblock plus and select it. Or click here click the blue "install" button, this should download a file, then open a Window, click the "Install" button. A balloon popup will appear under the spanner, click the x to remove it. You will see a red ABP icon in your location bar. We'll configure it later.
Go back to the extension page, and type Google ssl into the search box, or click here Same procedure with the popup, but the first time you run it it will open a window with one button on it. Click it, and it will open a popup, click the "Save" button. Now go back into preferences, click on the "Basics" tab, and click the "Manage" button. This will open a new window, select the Google SSL entry and click the "Make Default" button. then close both windows.
With chrome, the location bar is also the search bar, you don't have to open Google to search you just type direct into the bar and it will give you search result back in the main window. With Google SSL, all your search results, (only in English at present) will be sent & returned securely to Google, even deep packet inspection will not be able to see what you're looking for. As you move around the web and use search functions these will be added to the list of search functions available to you by default, you can clean them out if you don't need them.
Go back to the extension page, and type Ghostery into the search box, or click here Same procedure with the popup, This will open a series of pages to configure ghostery, accept the defaults. this will place a blue ghost next to the spanner. right click on it and select "Options" This will take you to another page, tick everything except "Show alert bubble" then click on "update now" in blue, then scroll to the bottom of the page and click the "Save" button.
What Ghostery does is it blocks most of the tracking/statistics services, the green/red number next to the blue ghost is the number of tracking services the current page has, Green means blocked, red unblocked.
Go back to the extension page, and type WidgetBlock into the search box, or click here Same procedure with the popup, but no visible icon will appear.
What this extension does is speed up pages by stopping them load the Twitter/facebook updates page. This is configurable from the extensions page. Click "options" next to the big red X. Uncheck the services you want to allow. Close the tab.
Finally go back to the extension page, and type HyperTranslate into the search box, or click here Same procedure with the popup.You will need to go into the extensions page to configure hypertranslate, click here HyperTranslate is the square blue icon, click "Options" next to it. On the page that loads, select the target language as "English" (set to Hungarian by default) I personally select font size 16, border 1px, padding 1px. by default the action key is shift, you can change this if you like. Then click the "Save Settings" button at the bottom, and click OK, on the popup box. This will reload all your tabs.
What HyperTranslate does is it fills in the gaps that Chrome misses with translation. It uses the same translate service, (Google translate, which has more language options than the better known babelfish.) What you do is highlight any foreign text, about 4 lines max. Then you press the action key, (shift by default) this will open a blue popup with the English translation, you can also right click the text and then select "HyperTranslate", etc. from the menu.
Now we'll configure adblock. Right click on the red ABP, (only works on live web pages, not on blank tabs) select "Options" Make sure the top and bottom boxes are ticked, and any others you want, then click "Update now" then select the last tab "General" tick all the boxes, then close the tab. If you want more ad-blocking you can install Adsweep it does work in conjunction with adblock, but doing so occasionally has unintended consequences as it's more thorough, and hence blocks more stuff you may want to see. Up to you.
Almost done, finally go back to the extension pages and tick the "Allow in incognito" box next to all your extensions. This means you can use them when you open up a private browsing session at the risk that somebody else might be able to access your physical computer and see what you were looking at later. It's a risk I'm happy with.
Next up we go to userscripts.org this is a collection of Greasemonkey scripts that can be used natively in chrome.
The form for these is you click the "install" button, it will download the script, and open a window at the bottom of the screen. Click the "continue" button, then it's just like an extension. You'll be installing the following:
Googleprivacy which blocks most of Google's tracking cookies & scripts, etc.
Facebook disconnect this is also available as an extension if you prefer here but a script is lighter. Facebook has loads of "like" buttons all over the internet, but these contain a tracking cookie, and scripts that report back to facebook where you've been, (even if you don't have a facebook account)This script stops that. It does not stop you using facebook or interfere with the functionality of facebook, it's just stops them tracking you.
Finally go back to "Preferences" -> "Under the Bonnet" -> "Content Settings..." and click on the blue link that says "Adobe Flash Player storage settings..." this will open a new window at Macromedia.com, you can find a walk through (for Firefox) here but it applies broadly to chrome too, at least for the window just opened.
On the macromedia page, click "Delete all sites" then "confirm" then click the "never ask again" tickbox. then click the next tab, the monitor with the eye, and move the mouse pointer under the "Always deny" circle, (this will highlight as you hover, then click.) Then click on the folder with the world behind it, next to the padlock.
On the new page untick "Allow third-party flash content to store data on your computer" slide the slider all the way to the left, then tick the "Never Ask Again" box. Finally click the first tab, and click "Always Deny" then you can close the window.
You will need to do this every time you update flash, Don't Forget!
Before you go explore all the new extensions and scripts you can install and mess about with and experiment with your browser, if you use Google images or Flickr a lot you may want to consider Greased Lightbox which is a script which changes the layout of image heavy pages, and allows you to cycle through images with the keyboard and zoom in, etc. It's really quite good. For instance you no longer have to load the next page in Google images, just scroll down, and it auto populates.
If you like you can make Chrome reopen the pages you had open last, or load a default set of tabs. This is in "Preferences" -> "Basics" along with the default option for opening a new tab, etc. If you do open your old tabs it will open them from the cache, which is faster than loading them live, but depending on how many you have open can delay you a little. This is why I install Chrome Canary, It allows me to just surf if I want to know the weather before I go out, etc.
Now you have a secure functional and fast browser, if you decide you want to keep it as your default, open "Preferences" again and on the "Basics" tab select "Make Google Chrome My Default Browser" you can still use Firefox or IE, etc. but by default when you click a link in email etc. it will open Chrome.
Occasionally you might see a orange ball over the spanner, this means there is a new update available. If you restart your browser it will update automatically or you can force it and it will ask you if you want to restart manually.
If you have questions post a comment.
[Update] A new extension disconnect from a (now ex) googler, looks to help you stop being tracked, by digg, Facebook, Google, twitter & Yahoo! Install it with the same procedure as above, it will install as a visible d next to the spanner. Click it for information.
[Update 2] changed adthwart to adblock plus after the two extensions were merged, (adthwart was originally forked from adblock for Firefox as there wasn't an ad blocker for Chrome)
[Update 3] Disconnect now seems to have a "Depersonalize searches" option, click on the d next to the spanner and put a tick in the box under the Y! icon at the bottom of the list.
[Update 4] While you're at it install Readability you can also sign up and give them money and they will give it to authors on your behalf, so they get paid, and you get to read good stuff. It put's a sofa on your toolbar. Click it and select "read now" to de-clutter a page. Check the site itself for more details.
[Update 5] Google have provided us with a way of getting rid of search spam and content farms, by way of a Personal Blocklist extension. Yay! Thank you Google. This puts a red hand icon next to the spanner and the sofa, click it to see the domains you've blocked, or select the Block option next to the cached & similar options (in pale blue) under each search term. w00t!