Online privacy has been in the news a lot lately. In response to this renewed concern, I’m hearing two main solutions emerge in the chatter among the digerati, one good, one less so. Let’s start with the latter: Web traffic “noise generators.” Noise generators are plug-ins that rapidly open and close browser tabs to random sites. The idea is to hide your genuine Web activity in a haze of random, meaningless traffic. Don’t bother. Obfuscation methods like these will hinder data miners not one bit.
The other idea is to use a VPN or Virtual Private Network. When you connect to sites through a VPN, information about you and the site you’re visiting is funneled through an encrypted network that your ISP (Internet service provider) cannot detect. VPNs are especially handy for public wifi when you want to make sure that no one else on the network can spy on what you’re doing.