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Stay Anonymous while using Windows 10

This is really a big question now that how we can stay anonymous while using Windows 10. Because compared with the previous Windows versions, Windows 10 comes equipped with enhanced security features for encryption and authentication. Windows 10 is also more robust against bootkits and rootkit attacks. To use the modern security features offered by Windows 10, your computer must have certain hardware components.

Hardware components required to stay anonymous

  • Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0: This is used to store the cryptographic keys of BitLocker. This is a full disk encryption feature offered by some editions of Windows 10 (Windows 10 supports BitLocker on Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions).

  • Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI): This is the BIOS replacement used in modern certified Windows computers.

  • Fingerprint scanner: This enhances the traditional Windows authentication schema.

A retinal scanner and a 3D camera for facial recognition are highly recommended so you can activate the advanced biometric authentication scheme of the Windows 10 Hello feature. However, their existence in modern computers is still limited because they increase a computer’s price significantly. As we already said, Windows 10 enhances the regular Windows authentication by introducing a modern authentication mechanism called Hello.

This app allows a user to log in to a machine using a fingerprint, face, or even iris. User biometric data will not be stored anywhere online according to Microsoft for this feature to work. It is highly recommended not to use the Hello feature on the computer where you are going to conduct your OSINT search or using it for security purpose. It is always advisable to use the local Windows account when signing into Windows as no one can guarantee what might happen when you send your credentials or other sensitive information over an unsecured medium like the Internet.

Windows 10 comes equipped with many new features to personalize the user experience when using it. For instance, Cortana is a Windows digital assistance that allows a user to navigate Windows using voice commands; it also monitors user actions on Windows such as what the user types and searches for and personalizes future events according to this. To control Cortana’s collection and use of your data, check this page for more information, which contains instructions on how to disable it on different Windows devices. Several privacy configurations of Windows 10 are stored in one location. Windows 10 created a privacy dashboard that is accessed by pressing Windows key + i to access the Settings page and then selecting Privacy.

Everything in the Privacy dashboard is self-explanatory; it is advisable to disable everything you do not need and not to use the Microsoft Edge browser for conducting online searches. Skype, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive are also not recommended for exchanging important files. This will also help you to stay anonymous while using Windows 10.

How to destroy digital traces in windows 10 and stay anonymous?

Data destruction is an important step in covering your digital traces when conducting OSINT searches. Digital traces/previous usage on the computer remain even after formatting it many times. There are three ways in which data and remnants of it—can be destroyed securely: physical, degaussing and logical destruction (sanitizing). We will briefly describe each technique, but let’s first talk about the different types of hard drives in use today.

There are two types of hard drives currently used in computing devices.

  • Hard disk drive (HDD): This is the old type that has been used since the early days of personal computers. It is a mechanical device that mainly consists of a metal platter (could be more than one) made of glass or aluminum coated with magnetic material to store data. HDDs are usually used for mass storage and cost less than SSDs.

  • Solid-state drive (SSD): This is a more advanced version of a drive. It does not contain any moving parts and has no platters. Instead, it stores data on small microchip units (like USB flash drives). SSD is faster and smaller than HDD but has a limited lifespan compared to HDD. Modern computers—and all smartphones and tablets—use SSD as the only storage unit type; however, this does not mean that HDD is going to fade away.

HDD is a mature technology, and it will remain in use for a long time according to many studies. For this book, let us see the difference between SSD and HDD in terms of data recovery. Recovering data from an HDD is relatively easy and can be conducted by any user with the appropriate tools. When you delete a file on an HDD, the file is not deleted directly; instead, only the pointer to this file on disk is deleted. This operation helps to speed up the deletion process, saving valuable time.

Recovering data from an SSD drive is quite difficult and impossible in many cases. For instance, an SSD uses a different mechanism when handling deleted files. All modern SSDs utilize the TRIM command when enabled. This command will remove deleted file data blocks instantly, allowing for another file to take up that space. This speeds up the writing process the next time the OS needs to write data onto the drive.

There are many approaches to implementing TRIM on SSD devices, depending on the OS in use. Some operating systems will execute TRIM instantly after each file deletion, while others will execute TRIM at regular intervals. Now, let’s see how data can be destroyed completely when using both types of hard drive. The following techniques are used to achieve this:

  • Physical destruction: This is the most secure and usually preferred method used by intelligence services and giant corporations to destroy classified and high-grade data assets. This technique works by physically destroying the storage medium—whether it is HDD, SSD, CD/DVD, or flash drive—so that it is no longer can be used.

  • Degaussing: This is another secure technique to prevent antirecovery techniques from recovering your data from the storage medium; it works by exposing the storage medium to the powerful magnetic field of a degausser to destroy the stored data magnetically. This technique works well with HDD. SSD devices are better destroyed physically to avoid the ability to recover top-secret data.

  • Logical destruction: This is the most widely used technique to destroy data while maintaining storage medium for future use. This technique works by using specialized software to cover the old data and remnants of data with random characters written by the wiping tool. There are many wiping algorithms already used to destroy data digitally in this way; some are more secure than others. However, what you should know when using such a technique to destroy data is that it cannot guarantee 100 percent removal of all data on your drive. Some advanced recovery techniques that are hardware based are still able to capture your old data, or at least parts of it (but doing so is costly and time-consuming). Logical data destruction techniques have some disadvantages too; they need time to finish because they must write random data multiple times (several passes) over all the available sectors on the hard drive.

In addition, this technique assumes your hard drive is working and writable to write the random data into it. Another challenge to wiping software comes when using it to wipe data stored using the RAID technology. This technology offers fault tolerance by mirroring data onto multiple disk drives in different physical locations. In such a situation, the wiping tool should track all mirrored data across all enterprise storage servers. Different standards have been developed to wipe data (logical data destruction) on hard drives.

Different programs exist to wipe your hard drives, and the majority support more than one wiping standard. I have mentioned free tools below.

DBAN The free version supports HDD only.

Eraser Open source; supports SSD.

CCleaner Drive wiper and Windows trace cleaner.

SDelete Erases data according to DOD 5220.22-M.

For SSD drives, the majority of SSD manufacturers offer utilities to erase data securely from their drives. You can check your SSD drive manufacturer’s website for such utilities.

Intel Solid State Drive Toolbox

Corsair SSD Toolbox

Samsung Magician

SanDisk SSD

Destroying your digital traces is important when conducting OSINT searches. Bear in mind that browsers, image-viewing software, Microsoft Office programs, and anything you do on your computer will leave digital traces. By using the advice in this section, you will make tracking your traces difficult and even impossible. This will also help you to stay anonymous while using Windows 10

Covering Your Laptop Camera to stay anonymous

Hackers and intelligence services go after computer cameras and microphones when targeting specific people. So, it is advisable to cover your webcams with tape for security reasons. This will also help you to stay anonymous while using Windows 10

Avoiding Pirated Software stay anonymous

Pirated software can include malicious payload like a Trojan or keylogger that can invade user privacy and spy on the computing device. It is strongly advised not to access pirated websites that distribute illegal contents such as Torrent websites. If you prefer to use freeware programs downloaded from the Internet, it is highly advisable to use your antivirus solution to scan them before executing them. To become more confident, you can scan the downloaded program with free scan services, which comes in handy when you want to scan a specific file/program using multiple antivirus engines.

VirusTotal is a free service that analyzes suspicious files and URLs and facilitates the quick detection of viruses, worms, Trojans, and all kinds of malware. All you need to do is enter the website URL you want to check or upload the file/program to see whether it is clear from malware threats. This will also help you to stay anonymous while using Windows 10.

Handling Digital Files Metadata stay anonymous

This will also help you to stay anonymous while using Windows 10. Metadata is data about data; it contains descriptive usually hidden information about the file it belongs to. Digital file metadata includes the author name, file size, location, creation date/time, and comments. Conceptually, all digital file types can include metadata. From a privacy perspective, users are mainly concerned about the metadata that exists in digital images, audio files, and video files. Microsoft Office and other digital text document creation software also contains a wealth of metadata.

Metadata usually comes stored in the digital file; however, some file types store it in a separate file. One metadata type existing within images files is EXIF. This is a standard that specifies the format for images, sound, and ancillary tags used by digital cameras (including smartphones), scanners, and other systems handling image and sound files recorded by digital cameras. EXIF data is embedded within the image file and works with JPEG images only. EXIF metadata can contain geolocation metadata in addition to a wide array of technical information. Other types include Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP), which supports different digital file types and is not limited to images, and the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC), which is considered an older meta-information format.

It is advisable to check the metadata of all digital files before uploading them to the Internet or sharing them with colleagues to avoid leaking private information about yourself and the device. There are many freeware tools that can view and edit a digital file’s metadata; we’ll begin with digital images. Exif Pilot is a free EXIF editor that allows you to view, edit, and remove EXIF, EXIF GPS, IPTC, and XMP data in addition to adding new tags and importing and exporting EXIF and IPTC to/from text and Microsoft Excel files. Other free tools that can be used to view image metadata are GIMP and XnView, which comes free for private and educational purpose. Read a complete guide about how to perform a DNS Leak here.

Windows comes with a built-in function that allows you to view and remove some metadata associated with documents and digital images. However, keep in mind that Windows may not be able to remove all EXIF tags, so if you intend on sharing important files, always use the suggested third-party tools already mentioned. To remove EXIF using Windows, right-click the image, select Properties, and go to the Details tab. At the bottom, click Remove Properties and Personal Information to open the EXIF removal tool. The tool lets you either create a copy of the image with all the metadata removed or pick and choose which properties to erase from the selected file. I hope you like this simple guide to stay anonymous while using Windows 10.

Thanks for reading now let me recommend you some other practical guides about penetration testing of Remote Access Protocols, Remote Desktop ProtocolSSH Network Protocol, Network RoutersWordpress website using WPSeku from My Hack Stuff.





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My Hack Stuff: Stay Anonymous while using Windows 10
Stay Anonymous while using Windows 10
My Hack Stuff
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