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TOR: What is it good for?
Vidalia simplifies Tor with a convenient GUI. See www.torproject.org/vidalia to download it.
Tor is a distributed network for allowing anonymity on the Web. By rerouting your browsing sessions through a volunteer network of relays, using Tor prevents someone spying on a network from figuring out which sites you’re visiting. It also keeps websites from knowing where you’re located based on your IP address, which can be tied to a specific user at a specific Internet service provider. Traffic over Tor is encrypted as it travels across the network, so anyone intercepting your traffic midstream won’t know what you’re requesting or who requested it.
Why use Tor? Anytime you send information over the Net, it’s vulnerable to being intercepted. And anyone from the IT guy in your office, to employees of your ISP, to admins at your favorite website can tell where you’ve been, and where you’re going on the Internet--not to mention where you’re at as you surf. And it’s not just crooks who need to cover their tracks. Everyone from soccer moms researching medical conditions to journalists covering political issues could use a little online anonymity now and then.
How can I protect myself with Tor? A device like the Gatekeeper Pico can enable anonymous browsing automatically on your Mac, or you can set it up yourself to work with your browser. For more information on using Tor, see www.torproject.org.
How to Encrypt any USB Device
Disk Utility has everything you need to stash your secret stuff.
Specialized hardware like the IronKey Personal can offer military-grade encryption for your super-secret files. But plenty of free software offers data encryption too--including some options built in to your Mac. Using Apple’s Disk Utility, you can encrypt any USB hard drive. The open-source TrueCrypt (free, www.truecrypt.org) is highly portable, and it plays well with others.
Encrypt a DMG with Disk Utility. Fire up Disk Utility, create a new disk image small enough to fit on a flash drive, and enable 128- or 256-bit AES encryption (if it’s strong enough for the U.S. government, it’s probably good enough for your website passwords and holiday shopping lists). Specify a password, and drag the resulting DMG file onto a USB drive. Opening that disk image will prompt you for a password, before mounting on your Mac as a separate volume. Drag files to and from it as needed, and when you unmount the volume, everything gets locked up tight again.
TrueCrypt’s Wizard interface can walk you through encrypted volume creation.
Use TrueCrypt for cross-platform data security. Similar to creating an encrypted disk image, the open-source TrueCrypt can also create encrypted volumes that can be carried on a flash drive. TrueCrypt offers some additional encryption schemes for more security and can perform several handy tricks, like disguising an encrypted image as another type of file. Additionally, TrueCrypt can hide an encrypted TrueCrypt volume inside another volume, so that your secrets will remain safe, even if you’re forced to reveal your password--a useful safeguard for international superspies and the paranoid alike. TrueCrypt is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, so it’ll work practically anywhere.