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Friday, January 8, 2010
A week ago, I was blissfully ignorant. Now I'm officially spooked...
As I explained in yesterday'sDailyWealth, the government has the legal right to access your entire Internet activity history without asking for any permission. It's authorized through the Patriot Act, which runs around the Fourth Amendment – "unreasonable search and seizure" – by getting the info from Google (or whatever search engine) instead of you.
And when you learn just how sophisticated and terrible hackers can be, you realize Google and the government are the least of your worries.
In all my research over the last week, I've been blown away by two things:
The goal of today's DailyWealth is to show you how to put your Internet privacy completely back in your own control, by doing two simple things.
I asked our readers for their insights on this issue... One reader really expressed it well:
"My privacy isn't particularly that important to me... I'm quite happy to tell multiple websites my real name, have them remember me, etc., as long as it's MY CHOICE. But my RIGHT TO PRIVACY – that's profoundly important to me."
I don't know about you, but I feel the same way. So I've taken some much more drastic measures...
I've tested all kinds of things that claim to help you retain control of your privacy online. The results, quite frankly, were generally terrible. Most programs resulted in an unacceptably poor Internet experience... and not much certainty I was doing things a whole lot safer than I was before.
A few things have performed admirably, and I am using them now.
First, I've switched my free e-mail provider.
I have switched out of Yahoo and Google over to Hushmail, a privacy-focused e-mail provider based in Canada. The benefit here is U.S. authorities can't cite the Patriot Act and get whatever they want... They need to be granted a Canadian court order. While you may choose a different provider, Hushmail does everything I need it to do. But nothing is air-tight...
In 2007, U.S. officials were looking for information about three criminals. Hush received compliance orders from the Canadian courts in response to requests from the U.S. authorities.
I spoke with Hush CEO Ben Cutler a few times yesterday. He explained the company's position: "Hushmail is useful for avoiding general Carnivore-type government surveillance, and protecting your data from hackers, but definitely not suitable for protecting your data if you are engaging in illegal activity that could result in a Canadian court order."
That's fine with me... In fact, that's exactly what I want.
You may want something different. Whatever your level of paranoia, somebody will sell you something to offset it... and it will probably be slow, and it probably really won't do you much good. But I found Hushmail works.
Second, I'm now surfing the Internet securely and anonymously.
I am currently using what I've found to be an extraordinary service... from CryptoHippie (www.cryptohippie.com). Long-story short, it makes it so nobody – not Google, not even your Internet service provider, not the government, and (theoretically of course) not a hacker – can track your Internet activity back to you.
This service is not free, but it's worth every penny. (I tried the "free" and cheap services, but you don't want them... You surf too slowly to be functional and they're potentially even riskier than doing nothing at all.)
I've now had many conversations with Paul Rosenberg, one of the founders of CryptoHippie. It's important to know who you're dealing with when it comes to your security. Paul came highly recommended, from my most trusted contacts. So I'm comfortable paying the price he charges.
I asked Paul if he would offer a free trial to his service for you.
Paul agreed to make an extraordinary offer for DailyWealth readers... You can try his CryptoHippie Road Warrior service (which is what I use) for free for a week. Just sign up between now and Sunday night. Paul wanted me to add that "every DailyWealth reader is guaranteed the free trial, but you may have to wait a few days if demand runs hot."
Again, this is a special offer for DailyWealth readers. You must click here or type in https://secure.cryptohippie.com/DailyWealth.php to take advantage of it.
I am testing more promising things, too. They just get more and more complicated, and a little slower, as you go. For a few examples...
One thing you can do is run your Internet browsing program (like Firefox) from a USB flash drive... you know, the little thumb-sized drives that plug into your USB port. You can actually plug these into any computer and start up Firefox straight off of the USB flash drive. You can then leave without leaving a trace on the computer you used. The full story is here and I'm testing each of these services described. It's a bit slower, but it might be right for some folks.
Or, if you're a bit more computer savvy, True Crypt (www.truecrypt.org) is quite an impressive little security program. But True Crypt really takes security pretty far.
I could go on... But the goal today is to put your personal Internet privacy back in your own control, to help you stop the spread of your personal information, starting today.
I can't believe how truly evil some folks are with your data... and I can't believe how most ordinary folks really don't care about this stuff.
You should care. CryptoHippie's Road Warrior and Hushmail don't slow you down a beat. I am using them, and can recommend them to you. Check them out. They're worth it.
Good (and safe) investing,
HOW TO FARM INCOME THROUGH THE STOCK MARKET
About that "farm income through the stock market" idea...
Humans have the desire to collect farm income seared into their DNA. After all, it's great to have any income stream... you're providing a vital product... and you're invested in something permanent, instead of a "dot.com" stock.
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are securities that allow investors to collect income on things like apartments, office space, warehouses, and hospitals... but there's no REIT with big exposure to farmland. We have to get creative here...
One industry's fortunes are tied so closely to land values and crop prices, owning shares in it is like owning a chunk of farmland. This industry is fertilizer mining. These days, farmers slather fields with fertilizer to boost crop yields. When crop prices are robust, farmers have more profits to buy more fertilizer to grow more crops. Shares of fertilizer concerns like Potash (POT) and Mosaic (MOS) rise as a result.
For this idea in action, take a look at yesterday's chart of the agriculture fund DBA. As we mentioned, this fund is quietly building a bullish series of "higher highs and higher lows." Today's chart of fertilizer producer Mosaic is the same.
One can earn yield on farmland by owning this stock and performing the income strategy of selling covered calls on it. For the "option-able" folks out there, the June "near the money" calls will throw off an 11% instant payout here. Beats sitting on a tractor all spring!
In The Daily Crux