Anti-spying software and tactics

      Comments Off on Anti-spying software and tactics

I believe that “free content” and the advertising-driven model is a bane of our times.  We have allowed, due to complacency, a model of accosting us with obnoxious ads instead of paying for good content – as if “free” was really free in this system.  The argument goes that without this obtrusive advertising it would otherwise cause us to have to pay for content… but isn’t that the point?  We should pay for content.  Why in the world do we need to pay middlemen, leeches, spammers, and others instead of the content creators?  In many ways, I think the movie Idiocracy was actually a documentary!

So, in line with my aversion to this style of content, I choose to stomp it out – no online ads and no tracking.  And it isn’t hard to do.  Here is how I do it in my browser of choice Google Chrome (similar tools exist for the others I’m sure):

1) Stomp out ads:    

An amazing, free plug-in for Chrome is uBlock Origin. (NOTE: used to use Ad Block.) 

2) Stomp out tracking cookies and spies: 

Now that you got pop-up and other ads out of your face, stop out that hidden tracking software (in my mind, that is “spyware” – but that term is not used for this sort of tracking) that are surprisingly common. This can be done very easily with the handy, free tool Ghostery.  Unlike AdBlock, however, you need to do a little configuration after you install it.  So after install, go to your >> icon and open Ghostery and hit the settings button and finally pick OPTIONS.  Then I used “Select All” in blocking options and saved – so I blocked everything.  Then I turn on only a select few and I’m still mostly covered.

I turned on only selected ones such as Disqus – a forum software used by CNN and other sites – because I know the value I am getting by allowing their objects to work.   I encourage you to play around a bit, start with more off and only add back what you need.

Now my browsing experience is far, far better – it is faster, more secure, and I’m not accosted by ads.  If the content providers can’t make enough money off of ads, then they will CHANGE and find away.  That is what free market and business are all about.

And, yes, man it makes me happy to see that monster list of blocked objects when I visit a site like CNN:

So, that’s it, two simple tweaks to your browser and presto, you are ad-free and leech-free.  This does not change the fact that you will also need solid anti-virus and anti-spyware tools, which I cover in this blog entry