Can my internet traffic ever be safe from spying?

I've heard of the balck box project and want to know how the banks and other organisations who need information secuirty, stop 3rd parties from snooping on their internet traffic. I know that anti-terrorisum is a real need however I feel that there are so many agencies in the Uk and around the world who can view this information that I am thinking about not using the internet at all.

I ask this as I am planning to start my own business but am afraid that my ideas and work can be stolen by third parties who hide behind the terrorisum excuse or who work for service provider companies as I know just how easy this can be to do if you are in the right organisation.

I may be paranoid but it dosent mean I dont have a point - any info would be useful!

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Short Answer: No.

Observation: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't anyone out to get you.
Longer Answer: The Internet is inherently insecure. Anyone who tells you different is lying. See the "If ISPs were truthful" disclaimer below.

Some responses may suggest the use of TOR (The Onion Router). TOR is a nice idea, but there are documented malicious exit nodes. Using TOR doesn't guarantee you security or anonyminity.

Encrypt your data. Avoid Internet Exploder. Avoid Winblows. Avoid Lookout! Use strong passwords. Don't use an HTML-enabled mail reader. Encrypt attachments. Use PGP to encrypt your E-Mail. Use strong passwords. Use firewalls.
If ISPs Were Truthful They'd Have a Disclaimer Like This
The Internet is unpredictable and unsafe. There are many dangers. Many articles, blog entries, books and news stories have been written about these dangers, and there is no way to list them all here. Read/view/watch the articles, blogs, books and/or stories.
Your Internet Service Provider (hereinafter "ISP", "We", "we", "Us", "us", "Our" or "our") is part of the Internet. Use of our services may contain dangers. The RIAA, Microsoft, patent trolls, inept and uncomprehending lawmakers, and/or agencies of the US Government (and/or other neo-fascist governments) may make using Internet services more dangerous. Your E-Mail address may be SPAMmed; your website may be subject to a Denial-of-Service attack; the NSA/MI6/FSB/Halliburton/Microsoft may intercept, read and disseminate your otherwise private communications without warrant, judicial oversight or any real recourse by you.
These dangers are everywhere, and exist with every ISP. Anyone who tells you different is lying. There are hidden viruses, worms, and other software hazards that may attack your computer system. We do not warrant to protect you, your E-Mail address, your website or anything else from these dangers. We do not inspect, supervise or maintain the Internet, blogs, other ISPs, or governments. Live with this or live offline.
Exercise care when accessing our services. The Internet, in addition to being dangerous, is very complex. You may be exposed to new dangers without warning. You are responsible for your own account, website content, and for providing firewalls, anti-virus software and whatever else is necessary for you to secure your own computer system(s).
Malicious software and its effects can appear at any time, in a variety of forms, but most often via E-Mail. Such messages can appear to be from friends, well-wishers, distant relations or even from us. You are responsible for your own gullibility. Don't think you can't be fooled.
The Internet has its own "weather", of a sort. Your E-Mail transmission and/or reception may be affected by this. Your website availability may be affected by this. You ability to access your ISP-provided services may be affected by this. We does not own or control the Internet or its "weather". We are not responsible for its effects on our services.
If you fail to practice good information and computer security measures, then you are making a terrible mistake. Even if you know what you're doing, many things can go wrong. Your E-Mail, website, personal computer(s) or other services or data may be compromised or destroyed. It happens.
We do not control access to the Internet. You may encounter other people via a wide variety of methods, such as E-Mail, chat rooms and/or websites. These people may be other customers of your ISP, our staff, other ISP customers or staff, government agents, corporate spies, Microsoft marketing shills, hackers, crackers, virus writers, malware authors, or anyone else with a computer and a connection. These other people may be stupid, reckless, malicious, dangerous, mentally ill, criminally insane, liars, drunk, using illegal drugs, trying to entrap you and/or surveilling you. We are not necessarily going to do anything about them. We disclaim all responsibility for their actions.
If you use our services, you may suffer emotional distress, civil liability, criminal prosecution and/or other loss or detrimental effects. This risk exists with every ISP; anyone who tells you different is lying. This risk exists whether you are a law-abiding citizen or not; an experienced Internet user or not; whether you encounter other people or not; whether you use good security practices (e.g. anti-virus software, firewalls, strong passwords, etc.) or not (although such defenses may help you). It's a fact, the Internet is dangerous. If you don't like it, disconnect from it.
We do not provide supervision. We are not responsible for, and do not inspect or maintain, your computer, operating system, Internet access, bank accounts, E-Mail mailbox, mail client, etc. As far as we know, your computer is infested with malware or ready to explode in flame. We may or may not know about a specific hazard, but even if we do know, don't expect to receive a warning. You are on your own.
In the event of loss of your personal computer, data, website, E-Mail or other data or service for any reason, we do not guarantee to provide recovery services. Recovery of your computer, data, website, E-Mail or anything else you lose, for any reason, may not be possible. No ISP can absolutely protect you against such losses. Any ISP that claims to do so is lying.
If you suffer such a loss, and someone else tries to help you, they may be incompetent, insane, inebriated, or worse. This includes other ISPs, local computer stores, big box retailers, online support sites, and computer or software manufacturer support lines. We assume no responsibility. Also, if you decide to try to help someone else who has suffered such a loss, that's your choice. Don't do it unless you are willing to assume all risks.
By using any of our services, you are agreeing that our sole and only duty is to provide the contracted services. We cannot and do not guarantee that the contracted services will be available to you at all times and in all regimes. No ISP can make such a guarantee; any ISP that does so is lying. In the event that we become unable to provide the contracted services, you agree that our total and complete liability is limited to the pro-rated unused balance of money you have paid for the services.
You also agree that we have no duty to keep you safe. We do not and will not exert any specific effort to keep you safe for any purpose. The Internet is not safe for any purpose. This is not a joke; anyone who tells you different is lying. We do not promise to warn you about any specific danger or hazard, whether it is known to us or not. Even if we issue a warning about something, that doesn't mean we'll try to warn about anything else. If we do make an effort to address an unsafe condition, we do not warrant to correct any others, and we may make matters worse. In this event, or in the event that we, our staff, employees and/or agents do things that are unwise or dangerous, you agree that we are not responsible. 

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smithma01Author Commented:
Thank you - your spot on - worrying isnt it...

I work for a UK government affiliated organisation which has a MAN link operated by a large well know organisation and am pretty sure that public traffic goes through their systems and the managers or sorry, invoice signers are too matey with the service provider, so they can informally and underhandedly monitor, or whatever they like.

I also VPN using citrix form time to time and am sure that they have logged my home address and are monitoring traffic from time to time. Maybe DNS queries are hitting their systems from mine - I've tried visiting (legal) adult sites from my address while VPN'ed in - in the hope they will try and do something against me and I can sue them for privacy infringement or at least make lots of noise to make them look bad as these people can use this information in any way they want and I for one dont think this its right.

For the most part I do research on my home computer(s) so am a little worried that they are watching what I do - most of them are talentless f*cks so they would love to steal my ideas etc...

They also frequently mention black box which is a crappy application they have within the organisation, but its also a UK government secret scanning system which logs all internet traffic and is similar to Chinas blocking systems only without the blocking aspect - I know this is useful in the fight against terrorism, etc and support this - but at the end of the day I'm just an ordinary guy who uses the net for normal things 95% email, research and education and 5% (adult) porn and p2p/torrents etc - and I dont think I'm alone in this...

Cheers for the insight - think I'll phase out my research and do things the old fashioned way, down the library ;-)
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smithma01Author Commented:
Sorry forgot to ask, I'm using Vista at the moment both with IE7 and Firefox as browsers, I see vista uses IPv6 along with v4 by default - will IP6 provide any better security than v4?

Nope just more addressing space.
smithma01Author Commented:
Thanks for the reply!
Note about Vista... there was an article not too long ago on Slashdot. This security researcher had installed Vista, and had booted his system Hadn't opened any apps, wasn't really doing anything on it. It was just sitting there.

He had a packet sniffer on his network, and he suddenly noticed his Vista PC making outbound connections. He check the IP addresses and they were registered to Halliburton (major US gov't defense contractor) and a three-letter US gov't agency.

Again, he wasn't using the PC. He'd just booted it up. There was no reason for the PC to be making those connections.

If all you're worrying about is Internet Exploder, you're really not paying attention.
smithma01Author Commented:
Lordy, heres me feeling all safe and sound with MS Onecare installed (paid for firewall, AV and spy ware protection from Microsoft for vista platform)

I'm not doing, and havent done anything on my system to worry about but it makes you think...

Played with Linux a bit, but must say I do like the user friendlyness and look of MS products - Your propably laughing your socks off at this - but at the end of the day I dont think I've got to much to worry about given there are real nutters out there.

Thanks for your input on this - it was just a thought that occoured to me with the recent trading 'fraud' stories at a french bank which have been in the UK news. I dont think I am being spied on but theres a few guys at work who like to show off their skills and I have a habit of rubbing them up the wrong way ;-) so this is why I mentioned the above in my earlier posts.

Just because something shows up on /. doesn't mean it is fact. Check the comments under that article from MANY IT professionals calling the article bogus for many reasons. Conspiracy theorists will always find what they are looking for, as long as they look long enough and try hard enough.

Be smart and the internet is safe. I have 15 yrs of heavy internet use and have had no problems whatsoever (no stolen information, viruses, malware, etc.)
smithma01Author Commented:
Thank you both for your comments, you both make a lot of sence - I cant say I've had any problems either but its good to understand the hypertheticals.

You both know a lot more than I - so thanks for sharing!
Chuck LoweCommented:
your comments "He had a packet sniffer on his network, and he suddenly noticed his Vista PC making outbound connections. He check the IP addresses and they were registered to Halliburton (major US gov't defense contractor) and a three-letter US gov't agency."

I just have home internet. I have a cable modem and a Linksys wireless router hooked up to it.
I also just setup a RaspberryPi 3 as a wireless router. My thought was to setup TOR on that so I could have to ways to surf the net.
What type of software or investigating log files can I use for home use to see if I'm being infiltrated? Also can this software be setup such as it will send and email or signal me when someone is on my network?

Much appreciate any help.
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