I have to ask this question, because I get the impression that many people think my behaviour is eccentric.
On my computers, I run both a hardware and a software firewall, antivirus software, and two separate spyware/adware removers. I use a local proxy to surf the web, though an external anonymizing proxy server. I encrypt everything I transmit via e-mail.
I tend to buy things in cash whenever I can, to avoid usage tracks on my debit card or credit card. Everytime I purchase something and the clerk requests personal information, I decline. When having anything shipped to me I have it held for pickup at the courier depot. I have an unlisted telephone number. I screen phone calls. I “opt out” of any possible contract clause that could be personally identifying or permit someone to contact me, wherever possible. When people ask for my number, I try and arrange to contact them, instead.
I have for years avoided getting a cell phone, opting instead for an older model, numeric only pager - the number for which is only given out by me at my discretion.
Am I nuts, or am I appropriately protecting myself?
People say the same thing about me. I can’t say I go to the lengths you do, but I am extremely reluctant to divulge personal information, to the point that I won’t post, on my anonymous Straight Dope account, to polls in IMHO.
Actually, I was considering starting a poll to find out if others are the same way.
I work for the US Government. I can categorically state that unless you’re trying to get a job, security clearance, or visa of ANY TYPE, or you pose a “terrorist threat”, we don’t really care what you do or who you are. And I’ll let you in on a little secret–there’s too many of you for us to keep up with.
Now private companies, they’ll use any trick in the book to get information so they can advertise you within an inch of your life. I use an anonymiser, have a firewall screwed down tight, and routinely monitor who’s packet sniffing or trying to make unauthorised connections (usually my ISP. I called them on it once and they basically said “Um, we were bored. Sorry”).
Personally, I don’t care about my information all that much. I shop with a credit card all the time, and when buying online, just check for the VeriSign symbol. (I have protection on my card if the number is stolen.)
I usually don’t give my phone number to stores, but that’s simply to avoid telemarketing calls. I have absolutely no problem with getting packages delivered to my home. (I know the UPS guys by name.)
I don’t have a cell phone, because I think they’re annoying, but having someone overhear my conversations doesn’t really bother me all that much. I don’t talk about private, embarassing stuff over the phone, anyway.
If anyone’s spying on me, they’d be very bored indeed.
My life’s an open book. Someday that’s gonna bite me in the ass, I guess. But for now, I’m doing fine (thanks to pharmaceuticals, legally prescribed) and total obliviousness when it comes to spyware, firewalls, etc.
As they say, it’s not “am I paranoid?”, it’s “am I paranoid enough?” Whatever makes you feel safe.
Fuji Kitakyusho, keep it up, in this world you’re crazy NOT to try and prevent the constant monitoring and to do WHATEVER you can to stop the leakage but if they Really want you, you might just disappea…
Poor, poor **Fuji ** . . . tsk, tsk . . . all those precautions and we still know who you are and what you did and who you buried in the basement . . .
Seriously though, your security measures seem a little extreme, but so long as you’re a happy and functional person, who cares? It’s a scary world full of intrusive bad guys. You’ll probably last a few days longer than the rest of us when Big Brother cracks down.