The following is a copy/paste of the message that has been up on our store page now for months. Finally moved it into a blog post that we hope to expand on in the near future.
Important update from Replays and Things store
And a few other things everyone should be interested in, it affects us all. In case you haven’t heard, your online privacy and freedom are being torn out from under you while you watch, and most don’t even realize it!
First, about the store. We have had a banner up at the bottom of the site now for a few months that was vague but to the point….we are concerned with your freedom and privacy online, and ours too, so all tracking has been removed from this site. We have also started the process of moving all store items back to our Etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/Replays We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused. This decision was not made lightly, and mostly was based on personal health reasons. The store page here at Replays and Things was finally taken down completely on December 15th, 2017. Although we may keep the site up and running, and continue(or at least try to continue) adding to our research section, the store will not be returning anytime in the near future. Visit us on Etsy for the same great vintage fine jewelry and our unmatched customer service. The future of this site is not completely known, but I do want to continue to educate people about their online rights and privacy(more on this below), so we will see where that goes.
In the last few months we have made serious efforts to remove all tracking that may track visitors to and from our website, including analytic tracking. We feel that you should have as private an experience as possible when browsing the internet, it’s no ones business but Yours what and when you do something online.
Had to come back up here to the top to warn you that the information below has become super long. The tl;dr: Your rights to privacy and freedom, and freedom of speech, are constantly being chipped away. Government, Big Corps(eBay, Amazon, etc.), Search Engines(Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.), and even your ISP are tracking everything you do online, and on your computer system whether online at the time or not. EVERYTHING. It’s not speculation. It’s a proven FACT. The information is out there. Yeah yeah I know, you “don’t have anything to hide”, right? I call BS, nobody’s perfect. Will have to read rest of this article if you want to know more. Suggestion: Read the Article! Or at least do some searching on your own!
I have always enjoyed my freedom and especially my privacy, and I refuse to let anyone take that away from me. I have been part of this movement for near 20 yrs, silent, working in the background. Silence doesn’t work anymore, we all need to step up and speak our minds. We are in danger of losing every bit of freedom and privacy we have fought so hard for all these years. Your freedom of speech is being stolen, taken away from you. Your right to privacy is being taken away. Your personal life, the private parts of your life, are being sold to the highest bidder.You are being watched. You are being tracked. Everything you do that involves electronics is being collected and stored, Legally now, and they are trying to take more. STAND UP and take back what is rightfully yours!
I am not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t have a “tinfoil hat”. Everything laid out below is based on proven facts, it is NOT speculation. I have performed some of the monitoring tests myself, have seen the results with my own eyes(more on this below).
For those that don’t know or haven’t heard, or even the ones that just stick their head in the sand every time someone mentions it, all of the big corporations AND your own ISP(internet service provider) are tracking everything you do online. All of this information is compiled and then can be legally sold to the highest bidder, this is possible and happening right now because of new laws implemented in the US this year. Yes you heard right, your internet company is legally tracking everything you do online and can/will legally sell that information to the highest bidder. All major search engines are tracking every search term you search for, every site you visit, and where you go after each page you visit. The logs they have can/do paint a complete picture of everything you have done in the past online, and what you are currently doing. There is a database available from every major internet provider, search provider, and most large corporate websites(eBay, Amazon, etc.) that paints a complete picture of your browsing habits. Don’t believe me? When you visit any websites that have ads on them(sidebar, banners, page footer, even in middle of page) have you noticed that the ads are tailored to your interests? This is because that database of info about you has supplied the advertiser with all the info they need to show you ads they think align with your interests based on where you live, the sites you’ve visited in the past, and the purchases you’ve made online. All of this info couldn’t have come from just one place right? Exactly, it is a combination of many databases working in unison. You don’t have to take my word for it, hit up your local search engine like google(biggest tracker of all), or yahoo, or bing, and search for “internet privacy”(I can’t believe I just told you to use the biggest trackers of private information around. There are much more private search engines that don’t track you, more info later in this short article that has turned into a book). You will receive somewhere in the neighborhood of multi millions of results. Do some reading, EDUCATE YOURSELF, LEARN TO PROTECT YOUR PRIVACY ONLINE. Here is one of the best places to start:
https://www.eff.org/ This is the link to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non profit organization that fights for our rights and freedoms daily. They have stepped up over the years to protect YOUR privacy and mine. They fight a never ending battle against our own government and big corporations. Please take the time to visit their site and read through the many items they have posted in reference to protecting yourself and your privacy online. THIS IS NOT a tinfoil hat type website, far from it. No conspiracy theories, just real life documented battles, all verifiable, they fight every day. Another link to their site that shows where and why it all started for them: https://www.eff.org/about/history. This site is great and has tons of info. Please take the time to read it, and then follow all the links to other sites that they have listed. Pay special attention to their tools section.
So you say “I don’t care, I have nothing to hide”
That’s an interesting statement, and I can’t personally comprehend why someone would say it. So you are saying you have no problem with me looking at your complete internet history? A link to every single site you’ve ever visited? Every site? Really? There is not a site in that list that could cause you pain, suffering, job loss, family problems, or any other of a million mishaps? NOBODY is perfect. So you don’t have a problem with me reading every single email, chat room conversation, or instant message you’ve ever written? That’s interesting, why not send them on over and I’ll have a good long read. So you have no problem just handing me all your usernames and passwords? Wow, really? That’s awesome, send them on over too. This Is The Information That Is Already Being Stored About You Without Your Consent! I will stop there, could go on forever but hopefully you are starting to understand. Anything and everything you have done, and still do online or electronically, is being tracked and stored. You do understand that any number of the items already stored about you could be combined in many different ways, and seriously misconstrued, and that alone could be enough to start an investigation against you, right? You have to know how easy it would be to take many small unrelated to each other items from that database about you and combine them to make it look as though you are the worst person in the world. You get that right? Here are some links for further reading about the whole “I have nothing to hide” statement. After reading you will start to really understand just how bad it could be. All links obtained by a simple google search, search term “so you don’t have anything to hide”
This is just from the first couple pages of the search term used above. Search page showed there were over 85 million results for that search string. Still think I’m crazy? That’s ok, I am a little crazy, but privacy and freedom have always been important to me, and I will continue to fight for them, and will continue to try to educate the public about their privacy and freedom being stolen right out from under them.
The below, while just mentioning Windows, is not only windows focused. The terminology may be different for Mac or Linux based systems, but the tools are very similar or even the same. Some of the same spying techniques are used on Mac. Linux is safer but only as safe as You make it!
I am going to touch on one last subject before closing this out. This whole thing will probably be moved to the blog in a few days. Last thing is one of the biggest online privacy thieves of all, Microsoft. But they don’t stop with your internet habits, they also send information from your Windows computer back to Microsoft servers all day every day. Everything you do on your personal system, the system you supposedly own, can be tracked by Microsoft. This includes but is not limited to any pictures you’ve loaded on the system or looked at, videos on the system and what you’ve watched on the system(dvd’s, streaming, games, camera memory), music on the system and what you listened to, anything you’ve typed in a document(notepad, acrobat reader, word, etc.), which programs you’ve installed/used, and anything else you can think of.ANYTHING done on your system can be sent to them, and if you think hitting that delete button got rid of the problem you are very much mistaken, that’s even worse because you believe it’s gone when in reality windows doesn’t delete ANYTHING, it is just taken out of the index where it can’t be seen anymore and that disk space is reallocated for use by the system, the info is still there, in the exact same place it was stored before on your system, and will continue to be there until windows needs that space on your hard drive, then it will overwrite it. But some of it will always be recoverable.
Some new search strings for you if interested in what I have said above: “recover deleted files windows” quickly shows how easy it is to recover “permanently deleted” files/folders. “windows computer forensics” this will show you the many tools available to even the regular person to recover files you thought were gone for good, there are even free trials on some, and free open source ones. Get one and try it on your system(if you are going to install one of these programs, or any program for that matter, check into tools like Revo Uninstaller Pro. When you install a program using Revo it uses the same install method that your system usually uses, but it tracks every single little file the program puts on your system. So when the time comes to uninstall you won’t have those little pesky leftover files scattered all over your system and registry), you will be amazed at the things it finds(I use this program, that is not a referral link, privacy remember. This program does much more than just what I said above, it will find traces of long removed programs and remove it all if you tell it to, it will clean sensitive areas of your system, and so much more). Sorry, didn’t mean for that to turn out as a plug for Revo, I’ve really come to like the little program and that’s why I own the multiple license pro version. There are other programs out there that can accomplish similar things. The point was to push using something that can go back and remove all traces of a program when you uninstall it. By default almost every program you install on your system, even when uninstalled from the programs page, leaves multiple files, folders, and especially registry entries on your system.
DO NOT MAKE ANY CHANGES TO THE REGISTRY ITEMS YOU FIND WITHOUT A SPECIALIST TELLING YOU TO DO SO. YOU COULD COMPLETELY “BRICK” YOUR SYSTEM, THAT IS MAKE IT UNABLE TO START UP, AND MAY LEAD TO A RE-INSTALLATION OF YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM WHICH IN TURN MEANS YOU WILL LOSE EVERYTHING SAVED ON YOUR SYSTEM UNLESS YOU HAVE A FULL DISK IMAGE CURRENT BACKUP.
Once again if you need verification of this, or just plain don’t believe it, click the start button or orb, type regedit in the search box, and hit enter. Then navigate to these different registry entries:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall (click through IDs listed)
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node (only found on 64 bit systems)
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall (click through IDs)
The registry is quite overwhelming. We are not there to remove anything or adjust any settings. This exercise was just to show you how much information is left on your system when you uninstall a program. Can almost guarantee you that you will see just about every program ever installed on the system, whether uninstalled or not, when you take a look at the registry items listed above(these are NOT an all inclusive locations for programs in the registry, just a simple exercise to show you that windows and the programs used on it save everything, and they don’t delete when you uninstall). Basically all logs, your info for the program, your settings, everything is still there. All windows did was remove the icon and some of the program files. Dig into your Program Files folder, and Program Data folder, and you will find the same thing; remnants of programs long since uninstalled.
This next link shows just how powerful these tools are, and what they can discover: http://www.volatilityfoundation.org/ <—that program, well the framework it has evolved into, is one of the most powerful forensics tools there is when combined with the many other plugins that are available. So if they publicly show you how powerful these tools are, what do you think they are not showing or telling you?
You want to know the worst part? They can legally do it because when you set up your system for the first time, or re-installed your copy of windows, or upgraded to a newer version of windows, you agreed to that super long privacy statement that flashed up during installation. Yep, that huge thing you didn’t read, you just clicked “agree” so you could move on, that gave them all the permission they needed to basically spy on you. They can retrieve whatever they want from your system. If you use a Windows computer, then even more information is being indexed about you. I am not going to bash Microsoft any more than I already have here, although I easily could. And instead of posting a million links below I will just say this:
There are ways to defend yourself against all mentioned above, and the many things I didn’t talk about. For those that want to see some results I say get a program like Wireshark to monitor your private network traffic and do some packet sniffing. You will see systems on your LAN making calls out to the internet when the computer is supposed to be sitting idle. These calls go to many different servers, mostly cdn’s, but a ton of it goes straight to microsoft data collection centers. The other stuff you intercept is coming from some of many programs installed on the system, even when you set everything to “never check for updates” or “I will manually check for updates”. If the system has ever done streaming or had BT traffic, you will see hundreds of connections trying to come in/out of your network. This is because the CDN that served whatever you may have streamed before has cached your IP and is still sending traffic your way, same goes for the BT clients and trackers.
Please take the time to do some reading, the information is out there and easily found. If you don’t want to do focused searches then search for more broad terms like “internet privacy” or even just “my privacy today” and look at what comes up, you will be quite surprised. So how do You feel about your privacy being invaded, your freedoms being taken away, and most of all how do you feel about the NOT so “land of the free and home of the brave”?
So what can you do? Better yet what should you already be doing? I will provide some links to sites for more information on tools and security. You should already have a firewall(even the windows firewall is better than nothing), antivirus, anti-malware, and a router or some kind of network protection device that is user friendly and configurable. I may mention that I personally use a tool, take that as you will. Most of the tools I list below I DO own a license for, that doesn’t mean I am saying run out and get it. And once again I will say THERE ARE ABSOLUTELY NO REFERRAL LINKS LISTED. THE SITES LISTED WILL TAKE YOU STRAIGHT TO THE HOME PAGE OF THE SITE BEING SHOWN. iF THE LINK TAKES YOU SOMEWHERE BESIDES THE SITE I LISTED IT FOR MY SUGGESTION IS YOU BETTER SCAN YOUR SYSTEM FOR INTRUDERS BECAUSE LINKS FROM THIS SITE WILL NEVER REDIRECT YOU ANYWHERE EXCEPT TO THE SITE THAT IS SHOWN FOR THE LINK.
If you haven’t already, or don’t even know where to start, check into a VPN(virtual private network). This alone will stop your ISP and most other trackers from being able to track you. When searching for one please be careful, 90% of the sites recommending VPNs are only recommending that particular one because it pays the highest referral commission. In my opinion the best site for VPN information, and has the same opinion as I do about other sites “reviewing” VPNs, is https://www.privacytools.io/. This site is not only about VPNs, it is a treasure trove of privacy related material.
Next site I am listing will probably become one of your go-to’s. This is not the home page, but is the tutorials page that will let you choose what operating system you have. This site should be number one when it comes to security tool info, and especially for any kind of infection you think may be on your system: https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/
Link listed above but here it is again, I really like this little program. Revo Uninstaller. I have the pro version but there is a free version available: https://www.revouninstaller.com/
Since I mentioned it in the article, here is the link to wireshark. There is a learning curve to this program, and there are many other tools like it: https://www.wireshark.org/
Also mentioned in article, the tools section of eff.org: https://www.eff.org/pages/tools
I am not going to recommend a site to deal with the whole Windows spying thing, there are millions of them and they all have their own opinion. There are many simple little tools available, free open source tools, to stop most if not all the communication to microsoft from your system. This telemetry can be stopped, and until it is the other items being mentioned here will probably not do you much good. Search for “windows telemetry tools” or “tools to stop windows spying”. Read reviews on the tools you find before implementing your own.
Get a firewall if you don’t have one, or turn on and use the windows firewall. Check out the program Windows Firewall Control. Once installed it gives you much easier access to, and control over, the native windows firewall. Very easy to work with and unlike windows firewall it lets you know when something is trying to communicate outside your system(even when you tell windows firewall to show alerts it doesn’t, at least I’ve never seen it work). He does not Make you pay, only asks for a small donation to unlock more features(it is worth the $10 donation). WFC: https://www.binisoft.org/wfc.php <—update:WFC is now owned and operated by Malwarebytes and is called Malwarebytes Windows Firewall Control;Link: is still the same and all information about the acquisition is on the home page.
Since Malwarebytes has now been mentioned check into it, it is one of the most recommended security programs out there. A quote from their homepage: “We block viruses, malware, malicious websites, ransomware, and hackers that traditional antivirus isn’t smart enough to stop. ” I have used their products for years and have even been part of the beta testing program on occasion.
Link to homepage: https://www.malwarebytes.com/
System cleaners. You will find mixed opinions about these types of programs. Whether they wipe everything they say or not, they are still good for cleaning up all the junk on your system. I have used both of the programs I am giving links for, both are good programs and are well documented and kept updated. We have both programs, some systems have the pro version of CCleaner(there is a free version. If you are going to buy pro search for coupon codes first it could save you 50% or more) and some have BleachBit https://www.bleachbit.org/ (open source and free). (CCleaner) https://www.piriform.com/
Going to touch lightly on the big mysterious Dark Web we constantly here about in the news. It’s funny that the dark web has been portrayed as nothing but evil when that’s the furthest from the truth you could get. Maybe they only publicize the evil side to curb people from taking control of their privacy? You never hear about how the dark web helps journalists in foreign hostile countries report back home anonymously to protect their identities where they are currently reporting from. You don’t hear the part about the evil side of the dark web is actually one of the smallest portions of the it.OR how whistle blowers use it to protect their identities. Matter of fact do you Ever hear anything good about the dark web?
A blog post was sent to me not too long ago outlining a lot of information about the dark web. Is it all inclusive? Of course not. It takes tons of research to even scratch the surface of what the dark web really is, but the post gives a good brief outline of the other things stored out there. I read the article and followed every link listed throughout it. I did not find any malicious links or any referral links anywhere on the page so I have no problem linking to it. I would suggest that if you do find it interesting and fascinating follow all the links like I did. Link to post: https://www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/facts-about-dark-web?msID=14030f57-31d5-4d46-8bd2-8f35c02cd78c
BUT do not go downloading the Tor Browser and jumping into the DW without doing some reading and research first. Because there are malicious, evil things lurking in the dark web, and they will try to draw you in with modified websites(phishing) that look right but once you enter any personal info it is theirs. There are hackers. There are drug dealers. But there are also great privacy focused individuals and websites there too. Even Facebook has a dark web site. Be careful, take it slow, that’s all I’m trying to say.
Head over to the Tor browser page: https://www.torproject.org You won’t find many sites out there that are more privacy focused than this one and it is the best place to learn about the history of the dark web since they maintain the browser needed to access it.
Will add more later…