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Five of the best online privacy tools

Protect your privacy when surfing the web

Whether it's discovering what personal information websites are tracking about you or manually deleting any tracks in your browser, there are plenty of free tools to help you protect your privacy when surfing the web. Here are five of the best.

Tor 1.3.18

Tor is a free application and open network that helps to protect your anonymity online.

If you access an internet resource without using Tor then you'll give away your IP address. This may reveal something about your location, and can be used to spot you when you return to that resource. In addition, anyone watching your internet connection will be able to record the sites that you visit. With Tor installed, though, it's a very different story. Internet traffic that leaves your PC will go first to the Tor network, so anyone spying on your connection won't see the sites you're accessing.

Click&Clean for Firefox 3.6.5.0

Your web browser stores a huge amount of personal information about you, including the websites you have visited. In many homes where computers are shared between several people, this could represent a security risk. While it is easy enough to use browser options to manually clean out these records, Click&Clean is a Firefox addin that can be used to automate the process.

In just a few clicks, the addin enables you to wipe your browsing history, clear the list of downloaded files and much more. This is obviously useful for preserving your privacy, but Click&Clean can also delete cookies and clear out cache files.

Eusing Free Window Washer 2.9

Every time you use your PC, you leave tracks that tell others what you've been doing. The documents you've viewed, the programs you've launched, the websites you've visited, the videos you've played - all these and more are easily available to any snooper with access to your system.

Many of these histories can be deleted from within Windows, if you know where to look. It takes a while, though, and isn't that secure - anyone who's really determined to monitor your activities can often simply undelete the files they need.

For real security, then, you need a specialist tool like Eusing Free Window Washer 2.8. The program is able to wipe a wide range of histories, including most browsers (IE, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Netscape). And if your required software isn't on the list, then you can easily customise the program to delete the folders and Registry keys you specify.

FOCA Free 2.6.1

FOCA is an interesting penetration testing tool that allows you to find out more about a website by (among other things) analysing the metadata in any documents it makes available.

The process is surprisingly easy. Simply create a new document pointing FOCA at your website, click the Search All button, and FOCA will display all the PDF, Microsoft Office, Open Office and other documents on the site that have been indexed by Google, Bing and Exalead. (Which can be useful in itself, as you might discover you're exposing documents that were never intended for public view.)

Ghostery

Ghostery is a browser extension that is available for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari that can be used to discover exactly what information particular websites are tracking about you and get back control.

The add-on reveals all of the tracking features that can be hidden in the pages you visit and identifies the companies responsible for them. You are then equipped with the information you need to conduct online research about the companies in question and discover more about their privacy policies and how they use the information they track.

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