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9 Best Ways to Hide Your Identity Online – Lifewire
Wanting to hide online? Here’s how to do it
Updated on April 02, 2020
Hiding your identity while using the internet means that you’re not leaving behind traces of who you are. You’re able to enjoy the web like you normally would, but you’re also able to take precautions to ensure that your identity won’t be so easily compromised.
There are several ways to cover your tracks and hide your online identity, and none of them require special privacy hider tools or programs that you have to buy.
Below are several tips anyone can follow to hide what you search for, keep your personal information off of the web, mask your IP address, and more.
Why Is Hiding Your Identity Important?
It’s far too easy for our personal details to leak on the internet, either via hackers, companies selling the information, or some other dishonorable method. Securing your identity as you use the web helps keep your personal details at a minimum so that you don’t have to worry so much about identity theft, harassment, privacy intrusion, spam, etc.
Browse Anonymously for a Hidden Identity
The best way to hide online is to browse the web in a way that hides your identity. If your real information isn’t being exposed to the web as you use it, then it’s a lot less likely that someone will get your IP address, find out where you live, know that you are the one searching, target you with ads on your other devices, etc.
There are numerous ways to do this, such as using an anonymous proxy server and connecting to a VPN before using the internet.
How to Browse the Web Anonymously to Hide Your Identity
Delete and Hide Your Search Habits
Your identity isn’t just accessible through the internet; anyone with access to your web browser might be able to see your web search history, the sites you frequent, your list of bookmarks, the user accounts you have, and even your passwords.
If you don’t want this information available, you have to make it a habit to either clear your browser’s history and cookies or use the browser’s private mode. Securing your computer with a password is helpful in this case, too.
Another place you can keep your searches private is online. If you search for things as part of a larger service, such as Google Search, your searches are being tracked and logged, but you can still delete them. Learn how to clear your Google Search history for help.
Use a Junk Email Account to Handle New Account Details
Every time you sign up for a user account on a new website, you have to provide details that usually include your email address. If you want to really stay private online, you should provide an email account that isn’t tied to your real identity.
There are two clear benefits to doing this: any spam that gets sent through that new account is delivered to a specified email address and not your “primary” one; and should the account be hacked, your other accounts won’t also be compromised because you’re using different email addresses for those.
There are several security and privacy minded email services that are great for this, but you can also sign up with a temporary email account that expires shortly after you use it or just use another standard email service.
An alternative to using a second email account is to use a service that lets you borrow other people’s account details. BugMeNot is the best example of this, where you can search for a site to see the username and passwords users have submitted.
Providing false personal details isn’t always legal, so make sure you abide by what the signup form calls for. If you have to divulge your real name and address for a bank registration form, for example, or a government related service, be sure to do so. Using an alternative email account, though, is completely legal.
Avoid Giving Out Your Real Payment Details
Another important component to hiding yourself online is avoiding using your real payment information when buying things or paying people. If you still need to spend money but you want to protect your privacy, there are various ways to do it:
Use a virtual debit card service like Privacy or Blur that lets you share payment details that aren’t directly tied to you
Send a cryptocurrency instead of “real” money
Buy a gift card or prepaid card, and then share those details instead of your real number
Use a mobile payment app so that you don’t have to share your bank account number or card details
Use RSS to Hide Your Tracks
Instead of bouncing all over the web to visit your favorite sites, which can result in ads following you around, you can hide your tracks a bit better by using RSS feeds to monitor the web pages you like to visit.
When you connect to a website with an RSS feed, you can have updates from that site emailed to you or have them pop up in your RSS reader program. At no point do you have to open any web pages, log in, or leave a trace of what you’re viewing.
Delete Spyware to Stay Hidden Online
One of the easiest ways hackers track you online is through malicious software that can monitor what you’re doing. These apps are called spyware because they’re spying on you; they can take everything from your web search history and passwords to photos, files, and other personal details.
There are lots of free apps that can remove spyware from your computer. If you suspect that you have spyware, or you want to minimize your chances of getting it in the future, you should install and run an anti-spyware app.
Another way to prevent spyware is to just be careful what you’re downloading. While it’s true that you can’t perfect this without completely refraining from downloading altogether, you can minimize the likelihood of getting spyware by learning how to safely download files from the internet.
Log Out of Websites When You’re Done
This is of utmost importance when using a computer that other people can access when you’re done, but it’s equally as important at home or school if you want extra privacy.
The task is simple: after you’re finished with a website you’re logged in to—like your bank account, social media page, email—just log out.
If you stay logged in, you’re not really hiding anything. Anyone else who uses the computer after you will be able to see not only who used the computer but also find all your emails, be able to post things to your social networks, etc.
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Social networks have evolved from the days of MySpace to valuable, data-slurping machines that have information on everything from our friends and family to our voting you apply for a new job, many employers will try to find and evaluate your social media presence to ascertain if you are a suitable candidate. A misjudged tweet from years ago or an inappropriate Facebook photo can destroy future job prospects or ruin a career. A Google search that reveals an old conviction can make it more difficult to become hired, and — whether true or not — allegations of criminal conduct spread online can cause to protect your privacy from FacebookThere’s the idea that once something is online, it is immortal, immutable, and almost impossible to contain. In other words, you should not put anything online you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see, in case the consequences damage you or your prospects further down the ever, keeping your digital information in check is not just about information that you put online. Monitoring the passive data collection conducted by companies from you is important,, stalking, and bullying may also factor as reasons to erase our digital footprints and seize control of our devices. If you suspect your mobile device has been compromised by spyware or stalkerware, you can check out our guide here.
If you want to take control of your privacy and online data, here are some tips to get you started. Not much time? Check out this abridged version…
Google is your ‘friend’In 2019, the European Court of Justice ruled that Google is not required to apply the same privacy standards worldwide as it does in the EU.
In the EU, if a request for a name or specific links connected to an individual is deemed acceptable, the tech giant scrubs away these links. However, Google has long argued that extending the “right to be forgotten” on a global scale could set a dangerous precedent and clash with laws implemented in other countries. The company also claimed that extending the law could turn the request feature into a “censorship tool” — in what appears to be in direct contrast to reports of the tech giant’s plans to woo China with a censorship-friendly search Social media cannot be trusted without these featuresNonetheless, the Google search engine can be used to uncover exactly what information about you is public and what the average person can quickly find out without the need for advanced tools, social engineering, or you know what is online, you can start tackling the problem. Run a quick search and make a note of any website domains that flag you, social media account links, YouTube videos, and anything else of may have the right to be forgottenIn the EU, citizens are able to request the removal of information from the Google search engine, as well as from Blogger and other related Google-owned filling in this form, de-listing requests are reviewed manually by Google employees. Since 2014, Google has received 846, 327 requests to delist related to 3, 338, 864 URLs. Also: Do we know where to draw the line with co-workers on social media? Google may not accept every request to remove links relating to you. Reasons given for refusal include technical reasons, duplicate URLs, information deemed “strongly in the public interest, ” and whether or not the content on a web page relates to professional lives, past convictions, work positions, or self-authored content. “When you make your request, we will balance the privacy rights of the individual concerned with the interest of the general public in having access to the information, as well as the right of others to distribute the information, ” Google says. “For example, we may decline to remove certain information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials. “To submit a request related to other products, such as Blogger, Google Ads, or Image search, you can use the form here. Also: GDPR: Two-thirds of organizations aren’t prepared for the ‘right to be forgotten’Have I been pwned? You cannot take control of your digital footprint without knowing where and what information is stored — and potentially HaveIBeenPwned service is run by cybersecurity expert Troy Hunt and can be a useful tool to discover if any account information belonging to you has been compromised or included in a data breach. If you find an email address connected to you has been pwned, check to see what data breaches you have become embroiled in — and make sure you change your passwords as quickly as possible. Google accountsMake sure you visit the Google Account page, where there are a number of settings that can boost your privacy, reduce data collection, or remove you altogether from the ivacy checkup: The Google Privacy checkup allows users to prevent Google from saving your searches and other Google activity to your Google Account, as well as turn off your location can also choose to disallow Google from saving YouTube search & watch history and a record of videos you have watched, your contacts, device information, voice and audio activity including recordings harvested from interaction with Google Assistant, and other this section, you can also choose whether or not to allow Google to use your information to tailor advertising during your browsing Broadcaster ABS-CBN customer data stolen, sent to Russian servers Security checkup: The Google Security checkup can be used to show you which devices have access to your account, including laptops, PCs, and handsets. You can also find a list of any third-party applications which have been granted permission to access your account. Revoke permissions as necessary. Delete me: Found under Account Preferences, Google’s deletion service can be used to delete select products, or remove your account a quick fix, use a serviceThere are a number of services available out there in which you can pay to keep your information away from data such example is DeleteMe, a paid subscription service which maintains tabs on data collection and release, as well as removes data including names, current and past addresses, dates of birth, and aliases on your turn, this can keep your private information off search results and away from platforms such as open people search GovPayNow payment portal may have exposed over 14 million customer recordsWhen it comes to mailing lists, services such as can list everything you are subscribed to, making the job of unsubscribing from newsletters, company updates, and more far ever, this service is not currently available to those in the EU due to GDPR down your social media accounts or delete primary accounts entirely Facebook: In the Settings tab, you can download all of the information that Facebook holds on should also take the opportunity to lock down your account. In the Privacy tab, you should restrict your posts to ‘friends only, ‘ limit your past posts, and you can also decide to disallow lookups through your provided email address or phone important element that shouldn’t be overlooked here is the option to remove your Facebook profile from search engine results outside of the social networking the Location tab, consider turning off location data collection by Facebook, too. Twitter: Twitter also allows users to request their archive, which is all the information collected from you. This option can be found under the Settings and privacy tab.
In the settings area, you can also choose to lock down your account entirely and make tweets private and only viewable by those with your approval; you can turn off tweets containing location data; you can decide whether or not to allow email and phone number searches to connect others to your profile, and you can choose whether or not to allow others to tag you in the Safety portion of the tab, you also have the option to prevent your tweets appearing in the search results of those you have blocked on the micro-blogging platform. Instagram: Facebook-owned Instagram has a number of privacy settings you can also change to maintain an acceptable level of default, anyone can view your photos and videos on your Instagram account. However, by going to your profile, clicking Settings, Account Privacy, and switching ‘Private account’ on, you can make sure your content is only viewed by those you everything: A more extreme option is to delete all of your primary social media accounts order to do so on Facebook, you need to go to Settings, General, and Manage your account to deactivate it. This gives you the option to return at a later time and does not delete your data. Your settings, photos, and other content are saved, but you will not appear beyond unclickable activating your account gives you the option to take a break and return later, and will take you off searchable results. Also: Medical records of high school students leaked in ‘appalling’ data breachHowever, you can also permanently delete your account by clicking Settings, going to Your Facebook Information, and clicking Delete Your Account and Information, followed by Delete My Account. If you have trouble finding this setting, you can also type “delete Facebook” in the Help Center are given a grace period of 14 days to change your mind and log back in. It can take up to 90 days before the deletion of content on your wall and in your account will order to deactivate Twitter, you need to click on Settings and privacy from the drop-down menu under your profile icon. From the Account tab, you can then click delete your Instagram account, log in and go to the request deletion page. Once you have submitted an answer as to why you are deleting your account, you will be prompted to re-enter your password, and then a delete account option will appear. Delete and deactivate old accountsDo you have a MySpace account? Do you have old, unused customer accounts with e-commerce platforms that you only remember you opened when they send emails which detail recent discounts and deals? When information such as your name, physical address, telephone number, and credit card details are spread across multiple businesses, should these companies experience a data breach, your data is up for Peeled onions and a Minus Touch: Verizon data breach digest lifts the lid on theft tacticsUnless the account is one you use frequently, consider deleting it permanently. It is a pain to find, remember credentials, and recover passwords associated with old accounts, but this is an important step in locking down your old social media, blog postsIs it really necessary to preserve what you had for breakfast one morning in 2013 or your review on a now-defunct retail shop near you? Probably are all responsible for the information we post online, but once it is posted, it does not have to stay there. Effort and time are required to comb through old posts, but the result is worth it, and this may also train you to be more selective about the information you share in the future…. and if I can’t delete embarrassing content? If you have come across embarrassing forum posts or messages that you do not have the privileges required to delete, the only other option is to contact organizations and webmasters you contact them, make sure you include a link to the content you are concerned about, give your reasons, and hope they agree to delete it. However, do not expect an immediate response. is an automated option for requesting account removal and subscription deletion from online is incredible just how many accounts you may have tied to your account, which — as it was in my case — could be in the will need to temporarily give the service access to the email account that is used to sign up for services and allow it to send emails on your behalf. However, this can be quickly removed afterward, and even if you do not use the tool for its intended purpose, can still give you valuable insight into what is connected to your email account. Another alternative is Account Killer, which also gives users a rating system that describes the complexity of account deletion processes provided by online services. Hide yourselfIf you cannot delete online accounts outright and only deactivate them instead, before you do, wipe as much content from them as possible. If the account is no longer relevant to you, consider changing the name and personal details connected to it, as well as remove or change photos to generic it comes to active accounts such as on Facebook or Twitter, anonymity or aliases can help keep your digital and physical presence is against terms of service to not use your full, correct name, but it is still common practice for many to change their surname at the least to prevent work and personal accounts — and lives — from Twitter, users will often choose aliases, and there is no reason why you cannot, too. Using profile pictures which do not show your face and names which do not directly correlate to you may help. Set up a second email account for junkAnother way to keep your digital footprint clean of debris is to separate online services between email accounts. If you need to provide an email address for a one-off purchase, for example, consider using a junk email address — which will quickly become full to the brim with promotional material but will keep marketing databases separate from your primary email address. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)A VPN is able to mask your IP address and creates a private tunnel between yourself and the Internet. This tunnel ensures that data and communication packets sent between a browser and server are encrypted, which in turn can prevent eavesdroppers from harvesting your information or tracking your online activity. There are services out there that are both subscription-based and free. it is generally better to sign up for a paid service if you can — no VPN service is truly ‘free’ given the cost to create and maintain the infrastructure required to route traffic, and therefore your data may be used or sold to third parties in return for VPN services. See also: The best VPN services: Our 10 favorite vendors for protecting your privacy | VPN services: The ultimate guide to protecting your data on the internet | How to choose the VPN that’s right for youWhat about Tor? If you are inclined to further anonymize your footprint, consider using the Tor onion router network. Tor is used by the privacy-conscious, activists, and those seeking a means to circumvent censorship barriers such as the Great Firewall of China. If you use the network to browse the Internet, anyone attempting to monitor you would be met with a series of nodes used to divert your encrypted traffic, making it very difficult to trace you back to an original IP address. Tor’s latest release makes it easier to find secure onion services
The most permanent measureStarting from scratch may seem extreme, but in some cases, could be worth considering. The outright deletion of email accounts, social media, and e-commerce services won’t immediately destroy all data or search results connected to them, but it will, over time, make them less likely to appear. Just make sure that before you take this irrevocable step you have backed up any data that you want to keep, such as irreplaceable photos you have uploaded to social media or stashed away in your email inbox.
Related stories:How to delete yourself from the internet CNETHow to deal with your online accounts before you die CNETProtect your identity by deleting your internet presence TechRepublicNine ways to disappear from the internet (free PDF) TechRepublic
Want to erase yourself from the internet? Here’s how – USA …
Ever get that eerie feeling somebody’s watching you? I hate to break the bad news, but there are endless tech companies, advertisers, snoops, and enterprising hackers out there trying to get their hands on as much of your info as you want to get your privacy back, your first step is to shut down all the intrusive GPS trackers and hidden maps you can. Tap or click for eight buried settings you need to change it’s time to see what’s out there. Sure, you can do a quick Google search for your name, but it won’t turn up everything floating around. Tap or click for step-by-step directions to digging up all the dirt others can see when they look you up ‘s nearly impossible to delete yourself from the web totally, but you can wipe out quite a bit if you know where to start. 1. FacebookThe term “data collection” and Facebook go hand in hand. We’ve known the social media giant follows you across the web for years, and it hasn’t exactly been careful with all our private information. Just this year, a breach exposed info on over 530 million you want to lock down your profile, you need to navigate a handful of menus to catch everything. Tap or click here for 10 security and privacy settings you should you don’t want to bother with all that, you can delete your profile. Here’s how to do it on a computer:• Click the down arrow icon in the upper right corner. • Click Settings & Privacy > Settings then click Your Facebook Information in the left column. • Choose Deactivation and Deletion. • Select the option to Delete Account. • Then click Continue to Account ’ll be asked if you want to deactivate your account or download your information. If you want to deactivate, your information will remain available for the taking. To delete:• Choose Delete Account. • Enter your password, click Continue and then click Delete you’ve deleted your account, you have 30 days to log back in and restore the account if you change your mind. Keep in mind you will lose access to Facebook Messenger as well. 2. InstagramThis Facebook-owned social media platform is all about photos, and you better believe yours are being analyzed if you have a public account. Even if yours is private, it’s hard to keep track of exactly who can see what you post unless you closely monitor your friend won’t find the option to delete right there in the regular menu. Here’s how to wipe out this account:• Tap or click here to reach theDelete Your Account page. • Select an option from the drop-down menu for Why are you deleting your account? and type in your password. • Select Delete (your username). Instagram will delete your profile and account details one month from the day you hit that delete button. You won’t be visible on Instagram at that time, and you can log back in before that date if you change your mind. 3. TwitterIf you’re erasing your online presence, don’t forget about Twitter. Maybe you haven’t shared quite as much there, but it’s still a piece of the leting your Twitter account is easy. Log in on your computer and follow these steps:• Click on Settings and privacy from the menu. You’ll find this by clicking More in the right-hand menu when you’re logged in. • Select Your Account > Deactivate your account. • Enter your password when prompted and confirm you want to continue by clicking the Deactivate account like Facebook, Twitter waits 30 days before fully deleting your account. During this time, your personal information is hidden from the public. If you log in, your account will return in Twitter warns, even some deleted tweets may still show up in online searches. 4. AmazonAmazon sells it all, at great prices. Still, you probably don’t want others to see comments and ratings you have left on products purchased on the site, your biographical information, and other site public profile doesn’t include purchases or browsing history, but there’s still a lot to be gleaned from it. Here’s how to change that:• Sign in to your Amazon account. Click Account and Lists. • Under Ordering and shopping preferences, click Your Amazon profile. • Click the orange box marked Edit your public profile. • Here, you’ll see Edit public profile and Edit privacy through the various options to review. You can adjust the about me section, shopping lists, wish lists, any pets you added, and more. Check your community activity section, too. 5. GoogleI bet you think, “Yeah, Google knows quite a bit about me. ” But do you really know just how much? Tap or click here for a simple way to see all the data points about you the search giant has cataloged. You’ll be about it. If you use Google for searches, email, navigation, photo storage and watching videos on YouTube, the stream of data is one is wiping out your search history and activity. You can also delete what you’ve said to Google Assistant, block personalized ads and clear your info from Google of these has its own set of steps. It won’t take too long, and it’s worth doing if you value your privacy. Tap or click here to erase what Google knows about can also blur pictures of your home on Google Street View. 6. People search sitesThese online databases go by a few names: People search sites, people finder sites, people search engines, background check sites … The list goes all operate in much the same way. They scrape publicly available social media profiles and public records sites to compile as much information as possible about you. Browse a few, and you’ll realize just how much they know. The scariest part is most of this information is free for anyone who decides to look you can you stop it? By law, these sites are required to delete your information if you so request. That doesn’t mean they make it is a surprisingly accurate site. When I saw my profile, I was blown away. Tap or click for steps to delete your are a ton of other people search sites out there. Tap or click for a full list and steps to remove your profiles. 7. Delete yourself from ancestry and genealogy websitesDNA kits sound so cool, in theory. Learn about your background and find out where you came from. But what does it mean to send your actual genetic information to a company? I don’t love the with FamilyTreeNow, a genealogy site that reveals more than you’d want. Tap or click for directions. Be sure to follow these carefully. You should never pay anything to remove yourself from this or any other there’s 23andMe. If you no longer wish to share your private information with 23andMe, you can delete your account through the Account Settings page. Here’s a big caveat: “Genetic Information and/or Self-Reported Information that you have previously provided and for which you have given consent to use in 23andMe Research cannot be removed from ongoing or completed studies that use that information, as stated in any applicable Consent Document. ”If you’ve used, you can revoke access to your DNA and ask the company to delete your results. Tap or click here for the steps to do A HAND WITH A PESKY PRINTER, NASTY UPDATES, OR WI-FI PROBLEMS YOU CAN’T CRACK? Get answers! Post your tech questions for concrete answers from me and other tech pros. Visit my Q&A Forum and get tech help about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.