Windows hack for Web-surfing privacy
Leave no traces on your PC
Those who read our article "Internet anonymity for Windows power users" know that I've been in quest of a way to assign the IE browser cache, cookies, typed URLs and history to RAM so they're never written to disk. Of course you can set your browser to delete the cache on exit, but there will be traces on the HDD; and you can block cookies or use a cookie management program, but blocking them makes surfing inconvenient, and cookie managers also leave traces on the HDD. And then there's the history, which catalogues your comings and goings for posterity.
So the challenge for me has been to set the IE cache, cookies, URL history and typed URLs to a RAM drive so they're never written to disk. This would enable you to accept cookies for more convenient surfing without leaving traces of your comings and goings on your machine. Not even the most sophisticated forensics tool can re-construct your surfing history if it's never written to disk in the first place, after all.
I've since come up with two rough hacks which accomplish this, one for Windows 95 and 98, and one for 2K and XP. The latter may work with NT after some tweaking, though I haven't tested it; and I quite simply failed with that neither-fish-nor-fowl evolutionary missing-link otherwise known as Win-ME. This is very rough, beta material so far, but I hope our readers will help me polish it. I will likely re-post more refined versions in a few weeks' time, after going over the bug reports.
I'm grateful to Walt Moorhouse, Steven T., Lutz Albers and Eric the Troll for their encouragement and suggestions. ®
Courage, beta testers
There are two background articles referenced in the readme files which go into a number of other points of security failure, such as the swap (paging) file, proxies and browser settings, etc. This little hack is meant to address a single issue. Clearly, a more holistic approach is needed, so I recommend consulting these two articles as well:
Do-it-yourself Internet anonymity
Internet anonymity for Windows power users --tcg