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How to prevent online tracking?

Have you ever used a website that requires login information? Or been online shopping and realized that advertisements are suspiciously familiar with what you’ve been browsing at? Have you saved your financial information on your browser when making a purchase online? Online tracking allows you to save these details, enjoy (or despise) targeted advertising, and capture your login details on your favorite browser. While online tracking may provide some beneficial features, tracking can also introduce unprecedented security concerns you might not be aware of.

What is Network Address Translation (NAT)?

Network Address Translation (NAT) is the process of remapping one IP Address space into another by modifying the network addressing information in IP header packets. This process occurs while the packets are in transit across a traffic routing device and was originally used as a shortcut instead of having every individual host readdressed whenever a network was moved. Since then, however, especially thanks to the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses, NAT has become a popular and essential tool for conserving global address space. This is because even just one Internet-routable IP Address of a NAT gateway can be used for an entire private network.

What is a firewall?

Firewall is one of best security mechanism that monitor and control the network traffic incoming and outgoing, based on predefined security rules. The firewall is always established between trusted internal and some other outside network (can be internet), assuming that outside network unsecured and untrusted. There are mainly two kinds of firewalls, host-based firewalls and network firewalls. Some of firewall provide additional services like DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) or VPN (Virtual Private Network) services for the internal network. There are Three generations of firewalls named First, Second and Third. First generation firewalls were based on packet filtering. Looking at the network address (IP) and the port of the packet, it determined whether packet is to block or allowed. If a particular packet or series of packets did not match for packet filtering rules, those were simply dropped. In 1988 first packet filter firewall was developed from Digital Equipment Firewalls. If packets do not match the rules, the filter will reject or drop the packet. These filtering works on the first three layers (physical layer, data link layer and network layer) of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model.

What is SSH?

Secure Shell (SSH) is a cryptographic protocol with the focus for secure data communication over a network. It's most common application is for remote login by users onto other systems; usually servers. The protocol was designed to be the successor and replacement to Telnet and other similar unsecured remote shell protocols as they all sent information in plain text which made them privy to attacks. As this information was user login credentials, the demand for the encryption of this data was something deeply sought after to ensure security. While the protocol does achieve this function, recent incidents involving the files leaked by Edward Snowden has revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) is actually capable of sometimes decrypting the protocol.

What is TLS/SSL?

Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) are two cryptographic protocols used for providing secure communication over a network. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) prohibited the use of SSL which led the way for TLS to succeed it. The protocols have several variations and iterations used in web browsing, email, Internet faxing, instant messaging, and voice over IP (VoIP). Websites, in particular, are known for using TLS for securing communications between their servers and web browsers. This is accomplished by TLS providing privacy and integrity to data between two communicating nodes on a network.

What is File Transfer Protocol (FTP)?

The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a protocol used in the Internet Protocol (IP) Suite used for the transferring of files across a network between a server and a client. The protocol was built from the ground up with the client-server model in mind and utilizes different connections for data and control between the two. Users can authenticate themselves with a clear-text sign-in protocol which is usually in the form of a username and password or they can connect to the server anonymously if it is configured to allow it. Transmissions of a user's login credentials can be secured by Transport Layer Security / Secure Sockets Layer (TLS/SSL); which can also encrypt the content of transmissions. Should this not be the case, the information is transmitted unencrypted which leaves it susceptible to a sniffing attack. In some scenarios, SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) might be used but it should be noted that the protocol is technologically different than TLS/SSL.

What is InterPlanetary File System?

InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) is a protocol which seeks to replace the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) with the goal of having a truly decentralized Internet by changing how data is communicated across the World Wide Web (WWW). This is accomplished by a decentralized network where all devices on the network have hypermedia content stored and content-addressed for sharing. This process makes it similar to the World Wide Web (WWW), however, it is very different as it creates another network which works alongside a file system. The protocol was realized in 2014 by using the Bitcoin blockchain protocol and network as its framework which allowed it to store immutable data, handle duplicated files, and obtain addressing information across the network. This led to achieving faster speeds, more reliable performance, and better security than HTTP and HTTPS although it is not popular nor commonplace.