Protect Your Privacy, Delete Internet Usage Tracks

CleaningHere’s a question I received from a reader:

Can you recommend a good hard drive sweeper? I need to clean up my PC at work… been surfing the net a little too much.

Well yes. Yes I can…

There are lots of good reasons to clean up your computer’s hard drive and usage tracks:

  • If a hacker ever gained access to your machine, some of your juiciest information is stored in your Web browsers cache. There is enough in almost every browser on earth to engineer a social breach. In other words a hacker could gain access to your personal data and then use it to pose as you.
  • You may be working in an environment where your boss frowns on Internet use, even though it actually helps you do your job. In these cases you need to clean up after yourself because any third grader can see what you’ve been doing the moment you log off the machine.
  • Finally, you might be doing something morally or ethically “challenged”. Need I say more?

If someone was going to do a forensic analysis of your machine to determine what you’ve been up to, you can bet they are going to start with the following areas:

  • Temporary Internet files, Web site cookies, browser history, and index.dat
  • Typed URL history
  • Saved passwords and form auto-complete information stored in your browser
  • Recent Documents
  • Usage history of: Start/Run, Search
  • Temporary directories on the hard drive
  • Items contained within the Windows Registry
  • Deleted items contents
  • Media player history

And that’s not all… So you can see how it would be difficult to keep all of your private information protected, given that it’s scattered all over your machine in places you’ve never even heard of.

Here’s what you can do about it. First, use one (or more) of the following tools to automatically erase all of the things on the list above. And by the way, all three of these offer Secure File Deletion, which makes the deletions unrecoverable:

  1. Clean Cache – Looks like this domain is gone. Thanks to John Williams for catching this for me!
  2. CCleaner
  3. Privacy Eraser

After you delete all of that stuff, you’re going to notice that Web sites which you used to go that recognized you don’t anymore. This is because the cookies have been deleted. Also, any of your saved passwords are gone, and that might make things a little less convenient. Don’t worry… you didn’t think I would leave you inconvenienced did you?

Now what you need in order to have a safe, secure and pleasant browsing experience is RoboForm. This is a little program which builds itself into Internet Explorer, Avant Browser or Firefox and which saves all of your login data to your favorite sites, but does so in an encrypted format so it can’t be snooped!

You can read more about RoboForm on my previous post about protecting your digital secrets. If you have an iPhone or Android device it will even sync all of your data to it so you can take it all with you everywhere you go. If you’d like to download it without having to navigate their web site here is the direct download link for Windows.

You should also review my article entitled How I’d Hack Your Weak Passwords.

Be safe.

There are 51 comments

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  1. miam

    Did you notice that the truth was revealed in the last post from John re Gravatar? He personally knows the exec at the company that owns Gravatar. Clearly he is promoting it as a favor to his bud and not giving Gravatar the scrutiny that it clearly should have. Many thanks to Tobias and Al for exposing the unseemly nature of Gravatar. Shame on John for selling out his credibility for his bud.

    • John P.

      You are a complete and utter idiot.

      a.) I haven’t “promoted” Gravatar. Ever. But yes, I use it like about a million other people.

      b.) See a.


  2. TSmith

    Hey John,
    I guess you couldn’t answer Tobias Weisserth last post about the gravatar issue huh? Yha gotta admit he’s right.

  3. Prisca

    The information provided about deleting everything would actually be great for those getting rid of their computer, which I am currently doing.

    Thanks for that info, because I definitely do not want the buyer to have my info!

  4. Mike

    all sounds well and good, but nothing is ever truly gone. encrypted or not deleted or not, forensic software can still read the drive

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