Christopher Maag, writing for credit.com, says that any attempt to maintain your privacy online is doomed. Deleting cookies won't work, banning cookies won't work, and using privacy tools won't work, either.
Even after you set your browser to delete existing cookies and ban new ones, download super-cookies and use the tools created by pro-privacy programmers, there's one data-gathering technique that you simply cannot avoid. Your computer has hundreds of settings that control things like the main interface language (English, Korean, etc.), sound and screen resolution settings, and the color schemes people set for their Microsoft Word documents.
How to avoid online tracking. (Hint: you can't.)
As you scroll the Internet, most websites automatically take snapshots of your settings. That information, combined with data on where you connect to the internet, can be used to track your movements around the web and build a profile about each visitor.
To see how effective this is at tracing individual users, I ran a test designed by Eckerseley called Panopticlick on my own computer. I've only had this computer for about a month, so I haven't even taken the time to open my control panel and customize the settings for the track pad, keyboard, screen, etc. (The program doesn't search for computers or beacons on your computer.)
Nevertheless, Panopticlick found 20 bits of identifying information on my Mac. Using those bits, it could tell that I was a unique user and not one of the 1.3 million people who ran the test before me.
The Swedish Transportstyrelsen (Transport Agency) botched its outsourcing to IBM, uploading its records to IBM’s cloud and then emailing cleartext copies to marketing managers, unvetted IBM employees in the Czech Republic and others.
Alice and Bob are the hypothetical communicants in every cryptographic example or explainer, two people trying to talk with one another without being thwarted or overheard by Eve, Mallory and their legion of nefarious friends.
Zero-knowledge proofs are one of the most important concepts in cryptography: they’re a way to “validate a computation on private data by allowing a prover to generate a cryptographic proof that asserts to the correctness of the computed output” — in other words, a way to prove that something is true without learning the details.
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