How to Browse the Internet Anonymously | Tips to Stay Private
Click here to see a summary of this article Summary: How to Browse the Internet AnonymouslyAnonymous surfing, streaming and downloading can be difficult. Websites, companies and services can closely follow our online behavior. Do you want more online privacy and prevent people from studying your online activities? There are a few ways to protect your online privacy. A VPN can help you access the internet anonymously. When you’re connected to a VPN, your internet traffic runs through a secure connection. The VPN software encrypts all your data using encryption protocols. Your data can no longer be intercepted or read by third parties. ExpressVPN is an example of a reliable and good you like to know in what other ways you can make your browsing more anonymous? Read the full article below for six tips on how to protect your online of your online actions are not as private as you might think. These days, countless parties attempt to follow our online behavior as closely as they can. Our internet service providers, the administrators of our networks, our browser, search engines, the apps we’ve installed, social media platforms, governments, hackers and even the websites we visit all know – to a certain extent – what we’re doing online. If you don’t want your partner to find out the special birthday gift you’ve ordered, using the incognito mode will suffice. However, if you don’t want anyone to know what you do online, a simple incognito mode won’t Ways to Stay Anonymous OnlineDo you want to surf, stream or download anonymously? There are a few ways to protect your online privacy. Here are some efficient methods to stay anonymous online:Use a VPN a privacy-friendly a proxy the web with an anonymous search stall browser extensions for your your privacy ’ll go into more detail below and explain each method 1: Safe and Anonymous Browsing with a VPNUsing a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a suitable way to browse the internet anonymously. When you’re connected to a VPN server, your connection is secure. The software ensures that all your online traffic is encrypted using special protocols, so your data can no longer be read by reover, your IP address stays hidden, because you automatically take on the IP address of the VPN server you’re using. An IP address is the identification number of your internet connection and can reveal your location and ultimately your identity. A VPN hides your real IP address for others; they only see the IP address of the VPN server. This way, the websites you visit won’t be able to see your own IP address and won’t be able to identify you want to surf anonymously at school or at work? A VPN will help here, too. With a VPN you’ll be able to stay anonymous whether you’re at school, at work or just on your home network. It’s also quite effective against doxing. A lot of VPN providers don’t log your activity while you use their services. This is the product they promise you: anonymous browsing. These providers offer their users guaranteed anonymity with their safe and secure VPN mbining a masked IP with a secure connection ensures VPN users that their online behavior can no longer be traced by anyone. However, not all VPN providers are as strict when it comes to making this promise. If you want to anonymize your internet connection, it’s important to look for a trustworthy and good VPN provider with a zero logs policy. A zero logs policy ensures that the VPN provider doesn’t registers any of your online activities. This way, not even the government can get a provider to hand over this information, because there’s simply nothing to give. Below we will discuss two trustworthy VPN VPN: A trustworthy giantOne example of a trustworthy VPN provider is ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN has a large amount of servers all over the world and offers strong security options. If you subscribe to ExpressVPN, you gain access to software that protects all of your devices and works for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. You can simultaneously connect to the internet with up to five devices on just one subscription. ExpressVPN is highly suitable for those who want to be able to surf, stream and download with complete VPN is very user-friendly. After getting a subscription, you can install the application and connect to a secure VPN server in just a few clicks. The app will run on the background of your device while you can browse and stream as usual. You won’t really notice anything in your everyday browsing experience, but you are far more safe and anonymous. If you want to know more about this provider, please read our full review of ExpressVPN. Very easy to use VPN Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i. e. Netflix) 3000+ servers in 94 countries Visit ExpressVPN CyberGhost: A user-friendly VPNA second well-performing VPN is CyberGhost. CyberGhost is a user-friendly VPN provider that helps you browse anonymously. They have a large number of servers all over the world, which makes it extremely easy to find a server that suits your needs. Their servers will make sure you can browse the internet without any restraints. You can even use Netflix and freely download torrents with CyberGhost. The CyberGhost app is very easy to use, and if you have trouble figuring it out, CyberGhost also has a great customer support team that can help there is a HTTPS alternative for the HTTP website you’re trying to visit, CyberGhost will make sure you are automatically redirected to the secure version of the site. This way, you can browse anonymously and safely at all times. Read our detailed review of CyberGhost to learn more about this VPN. Very user-friendly High quality for a low price Torrents and Netflix possible Visit CyberGhost Browsing the internet anonymously with a free VPNIn addition to paid VPNs, there are numerous free VPNs. A free VPN may sound attractive, but often these VPNs aren’t secure. It’s often wise to consider a paid VPN provider instead, because your private data might not always be in good hands with a free provider. Some free VPNs register the sites you visit and resell this data to advertisers. As a result, you certainly won’t be anonymous or secure stead of a free VPN, it’s better to opt for a reliable, cheap 2: Use the Right BrowserIt’s wise to go back to basics and make sure to choose a browser that helps you protect your anonymity. But which browser is the best to use in this case? Different popular browsers have very different ways of dealing with user privacy. They also have different levels of safety. In this section, we’ll be discussing several well-known browser options. And for a more thorough analysis, you can always take a look at our in-depth article on privacy-friendly away from Microsoft EdgeWhen considering online safety and privacy, we’d advise you not to use Microsoft Edge. Microsoft Edge is the official successor of Internet Explorer and still gets regular safety updates, as opposed to IE. Still, the privacy levels of this browser aren’t great. It doesn’t have any tracking protection, which other browsers do. This, and other ways in which Microsoft lacks in terms of privacy, lead us to advise you to stay away from Edge if you want to focus on protecting your Chrome: awesome browser, lacks some privacy featuresThe Chrome browser supports several pop-up blockers and other privacy-oriented browser extensions. Still, Chrome is the property of Google, which might have implications for your privacy. Google profits from having as much data on its users as possible. This data is used to show personalized advertisements and to improve Google’s search of people critique Google for the way the company handles users’ privacy. For example, it has been questioned why Chrome users are often automatically logged in to their Google or Gmail accounts. This way, Google can trace all of your browsing activity and connect it to you as a person. This information is then synchronized across all your devices. Do you use an Android smartphone with apps like Google Maps? Then Google instantly knows even more about you. If you value your privacy, there are some alternative browsers that might suit you better than ’s Safari does its job wellLately, Apple’s browser Safari has been doing really well in terms of privacy. The browser has seen the introduction of new features that stop digital fingerprinting, making it a lot harder for other parties to follow you online. It also has Intelligent Tracking Prevention. This automatically deletes first-party tracking cookies that websites place in the Safari browser after seven days. Because of this system, websites are able to track visitors for a much shorter length of time. Aside from that, Safari offers some useful extensions that improve your online privacy. We’ll get back to this zilla Firefox: the best and most well-known browser for privacyIf you ask us, Mozilla Firefox is the best ‘normal’ browser for users that value their privacy. To kick things off, Firefox has several security features, such as protection against phishing and malware. Aside from that, Firefox users automatically receive a warning whenever a website tries to install add-ons. When it comes to privacy, Firefox is a very secure choice, also because it offers useful extensions that protect users against all sorts of tracking and privacy breaches. These add-ons are, more often than not, specifically for ntrary to most other browsers, Firefox is open source. This means that everyone can check out the code that makes up Firefox’s software. Because of this transparent way of working, Mozilla couldn’t just build in tracking features even if it wanted to. Someone would notice and make a show of it, which would be awful for Mozilla’s level anonymous browsing: the Tor browserIf you really want to browse anonymously, the Tor browser could be an interesting option. Tor (The Onion Router) is an online network for encrypted and anonymous communication. Tor works pretty much the same as other browsers like Firefox, Safari and Chrome. However, unlike other browsers, Tor allows you to browse completely anonymously. The Tor network consists of thousands of servers worldwide. All data traffic that passes through it is cut up in little pieces that are subsequently encrypted and sent through several servers before ending up at its destination. This process costs time, and therefore the Tor browser can be relatively slow. But no matter how slow it is, it does make sure nobody can see what you do important side note to the use of Tor is that it only encrypts part of what you do online. Only the internet traffic that goes through the browser is protected. Services like Skype and WhatsApp access the internet without the use of a browser. Tor can’t offer you protection there. Another thing worth mentioning is that Tor provides users with access to the dark web. So be wary: surfing the dark web should be done with great care. This ‘dark part’ of the internet isn’t regulated, which means it comes with a lot of risks for your safety. For example, it’s very easy to run into malware there. Therefore, for most of us, using a VPN along with the Firefox browser is an easier, better, and more secure alternative to 3: Anonymous Browsing with a ProxyThe use of a proxy server also provides some anonymity online. When using a proxy, you send a request for information to that proxy server, which then sends it on to the right website. The website will only be able to see the IP address of the proxy server and not your own. A proxy doesn’t have the same level of encryption as a VPN does. Even though the websites you visit won’t be able to see directly who you are, your IP address and online traffic are still much easier to unravel than would be the case when using a VPN. Other parties will still be able to see what you do. The only thing keeping them from knowing your identity is the proxy’s IP. This is because proxies don’t protect or encrypt your servers are mostly seen as lighter, free alternatives to a VPN. They might suit your needs, but do keep in mind that they don’t have the same security standards as a VPN. Even so, a proxy server might suffice if your only goal is to circumvent certain geographical online 4: Use an Anonymous Search EngineThere’s also the option of using an anonymous search engine. DuckDuckGo is probably the best known anonymous search engine. Anonymous search engines such as DuckDuckGo are alternatives for Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines that like to collect and use your data. When you use DuckDuckGo, your search terms and the links you clicked aren’t traced. Moreover, the websites you visit won’t be able to see which search terms you used. However, they’ll still know that you’ve visited their page. This registration happens through your IP address. Through DuckDuckGo you can search the internet with more anonymity than a regular search engine, but it can’t offer you full anonymity or DuckGo doesn’t have the same budget and manpower as big businesses like Google. This means that the presented search result won’t be as optimized. However, some say that this is actually a good thing for those who focus on privacy. After all, DuckDuckGo shows everyone who enters the same keywords the same search results. Google, on the contrary, adjusts your results to your user profile. The inaccuracy of DuckDuckGo, hence, shows that they’re actually sticking to their promise of anonymity. Our advice is to try out DuckDuckGo to see whether you like it. A second anonymous search engine is Startpage. This is a privacy-friendly search system that draws its search results from Google, but doesn’t use tracking. We also recommend you try out this 5: Minimize Tracking with the Right Browser ExtensionsThere are many browser extensions out there that help increase your online privacy and safety. These extensions are often easy to install and use. Aside from an adblocker, a password manager and a VPN browser extension, you could also try specific add-ons and extensions that minimize ivacy Badger and GhosteryPrivacy Badger and Ghostery are browser extensions that detect and block third-party tracking cookies that are placed on your computer while you browse. Blocking these cookies keeps third parties from following you online. Did you install Privacy Badger or Ghostery and did you visit a webpage that tries to install third-party tracking cookies? Then these extensions will come into action. Good for you, bad for online marketeers, and very good for your 6: Be Wary of Big Tech Companies and Big DataFacebook is known to share its users’ personal information with advertisers. This is why women tend to get menstrual care ads on their Facebook feed while men don’t. However, Facebook takes this practice a lot further: they also track what you do when you aren’t on their site. If you’ve been looking for car insurance online, it’s very likely you’ll see a relevant ad on your Facebook feed. Facebook allows you to change this slightly in the privacy settings of your account. After you have changed these settings, they might not show selected ads anymore, but you will still see ads. Moreover, they will keep gathering information on you. Through their own services, it isn’t possible to turn off their tracking. You can only slightly tweak what comes up in your also allows you to turn off add personalization. Again, this does not mean all ads will disappear, nor will Google stop tracking your data traffic. As a rule, you can say that these big companies built on advertisement revenues won’t stop tracking us, unless we make it impossible with, for instance, a ThoughtsThere are several steps you can take in order to better protect your online safety and privacy. Do you want to browse the internet anonymously? Then these are the tips we’d like to give you:Install a VPN, such as Mozilla Firefox or the Tor a proxy server as an alternative to a an anonymous search engine, like mize tracking with the right browser extensions, such as adblockers and anti-tracking your privacy settings on social media you combine these tips, your online privacy is much better guarded already. You’ll be able to browse the internet much more anonymously. How to Browse the Internet Anonymously: Frequently Asked QuestionsDo you have a question on how to browse the internet anonymously? Check the overview below with frequently asked questions to see whether your question is listed. Click on a question to see the can I surf the internet anonymously? Combine the tips below to stay anonymous online:Use a VPN a privacy-friendly a proxy the web with an anonymous search stall browser extensions for your your privacy settings. How can I surf the internet anonymously with a vpn? Using a VPN is a good way to browse the internet anonymously. The VPN software ensures that all your online traffic is encrypted using special protocols, so your data can no longer be read by others. In addition, your IP address remains hidden, because you automatically take on the IP address of the VPN server you’re using. What is the best VPN to browse the internet anonymously? It’s important to choose a reliable VPN provider with a zero logs policy, so you can be sure that it doesn’t register any of your online VPN is an example of a reliable and solid VPN that will definitely help you surf the internet more securely and anonymously.
How to Completely Disappear From the Internet | PCMag
Some might say the internet was built on anonymity, paving the way for a place where free speech reigns supreme. But after years of learning about who’s snooping into everything we do online, privacy on the web is hardly a ‘s not just about government spying; it’s also about how much data big companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have collected in order to serve up targeted ads—not to mention how much of your personal data gets scooped up in all the breaches and are always going to be good reasons for people to go online without being tracked. For one, anonymity may be the only way for a real whistleblower to reveal corruption, considering how some have been treated. But there’s nothing wrong with wanting to stay anonymous, no matter what you’re it even possible to take control of your own personal privacy online? Ultimately, the only way to stay truly anonymous online to go online at all. That’s not a real option for most of us, though. Here’s a rundown of what you can do to minimize spying, targeted ads, and ID theft as you explore the online world Your SystemPhone Call ConfidentialityIf you want to be anonymous, forget about using a smartphone. The big-name mobile OS makers are control freaks (Apple) and ad servers (Google). To be anonymous when you use a phone, your choice is a prepaid phone, aka a with a burner, call records exist, so your location can still be triangulated via GPS and tower locations. As you’ve seen in movies, though, you can always throw the phone into a passing truck and lead whoever might be tracking you on a wild goose chase. The upside of a burner is that your real name isn’t associated with the when you already own an expensive smartphone, buying more hardware is painful. Thankfully, there are apps aplenty to get you temporary, anonymous numbers you can use with Android or iOS. (One of those apps is named, aptly, Burner. )Light That FirewallIs your desktop or laptop computer connected directly to a broadband modem? That’s a very bad idea. Hackers are constantly bombarding IP addresses to see if they can get onto a should always have a router on your home network that can mitigate attempted hacks with its built-in firewall. A router uses network address translation (NAT) to assign an IP address to every device on your home network: those are then only visible on that network. Direct attacks can sometimes be stopped dead right there. You need the router anyway, for sharing the internet connection and Wi-Fi. Even a router that comes integrated into the modem—the kind you get from your ISP—is better than no router at could also use firewall software that’s installed on your PC. Windows 10 comes with a pretty decent solution called—you guessed it—Windows Firewall. You can also find firewalls as part of security suites. But as PCMag’s Lead Analyst for Security, Neil J. Rubenking, explains, you don’t really need another firewall if you use the one that ships with real anonymity based on your OS, stop using Windows or macOS on the desktop and move to a Linux distro that specializes in all forms of keeping you secret. Your best bet is Tails: The Amnesic Incognito Live Your Own StealthWhat does your computer (or tablet or smartphone, for that matter) give away about you when you visit websites? At the very least, a site knows your IP address (and that’s necessary; otherwise you’d get no results) most cases, it also knows your approximate physical location (by checking where your ISP supplies those IP addresses; see it in action at IPLocation) and probably your time zone and which language you speak—all good info for advertisers. Your browser can also offer up your operating system, browser type, and which versions of software you run for browser plug-ins. It even reports on the fonts you have installed. All this gives your system a unique fingerprint. And as anyone who’s watched Law & Order knows, a unique fingerprint is sometimes all it takes to track you.
If you don’t believe it, visit MyBrowserInfo or for a full report. Then check out the EFF’s Cover Your Tracks tool to see how well your browser and VPN are protecting you. You can use browser extensions in Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Edge to enhance your privacy. The EFF has its own Privacy Badger to monitors sites that monitor you. The Ghostery browser extension blocks all sorts of trackers and advertising on almost all browsers. The DuckDuckGo search engine for privacy also has a similar extension, called Privacy ‘s more, even if you’ve got a VPN—virtual private network—running, as you should (see below), it could be leaking. Here’s how to get yourself back into stealth Surfing
(Illustration: Vik Kay/Shutterstock)
To summarize, using stealth modes, special browsers, and private search engines won’t make you completely anonymous. But they prevent sites from writing info to your computer, including cookies, which can be used to figure out your browsing oxies and VPNs and Tor, Oh MyThe way to ensure outsiders don’t gather information about you while you’re browsing the web is to appear to be someone else in a different location. This requires a proxy server or a virtual private network (VPN) connection—or even better, both. With the right combo, you can not only be anonymous but also surf sites in other countries as though you’re a native. A proxy server—a computer system or router that functions as a relay between client and server—isn’t for newbies, but FoxyProxy can get you started. It works with the major browsers and offers proxy services and VPN services are everywhere. They have the advantage of securing the traffic between your computer and servers and masking your IP address and location. For example, by connecting through my work VPN, sites I visit believe I’m at corporate HQ, although I work from home.
VPNs also double as a way to get access to location-blocked content. If you’re in a country that can’t get the BBC iPlayer or Netflix, for example, a VPN could be your ticket. Netflix, for one, is cracking down on this tactic when it discussion of anonymity online is complete without mentioning Tor. The name comes from once being the acronym for “the onion router”—a metaphor for many layers of is a free network of tunnels for routing web requests and page downloads. It’s not the same as a VPN but might be even more secure for masking your identity. Tor’s supposed to make it impossible for a site you’re visiting to figure out who you are—but does it?
The National Security Agency’s spying controversy leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013 included what some thought was a workaround to identify users of Tor. But it wasn’t that simple. As explained by security expert Bruce Schneier in The Guardian, the NSA actually monitors what’s called the Tor “exit nodes”—the agency could tell users were using Tor but not who the users were. The NSA set up a “man in the middle” attack, pretending to be the site the user wanted (Google, for example), and could send data back to the user that would take advantage of exploitable holes in the browser—not a hole in lesson there: Keep your browsers up to date, or use one of the previously noted anonymizing which company also offers an anonymizing browser? Tor has a browser bundle for Windows (run it off a flash drive to take with you), macOS, or Linux; it’s available in 16 languages. There’s also a Tor Browser for Android devices; iOS users can try the third-party VPN + TOR Browser and Ad Block is not entirely foolproof—the theory is you could still be tracked by someone skilled enough (even if they can’t read what you send). The list of potential Tor weaknesses is long.
A newish browser with a built-in search engine is trying to take some of Tor’s privacy thunder—an open-source project called Brave. As a free download, it’s worth a try, but Brave has already had some issues and is branching into cryptocurrency to change the game on how websites make you’re sensing a trend in that no software can keep you 100% anonymous, you’re paying attention. But these steps are all like a lock on a door: Sure, someone could kick it in—but why make it easy by leaving the door open? Anonymous EmailAs nice as it is to remain perfectly private as you surf, it may be even more essential for your email to be anonymous, to avoid spam or surveillance. The problem is that email simply wasn’t built with security in mind.
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Secure email services exist, of course. They use encryption to scramble what you send and require the recipient to have a password to decrypt your message. Edward Snowden used a webmail service known as Lavabit, which was so secure the government insisted that it hand over the private keys of users. Lavabit, to its credit, immediately shut down to protect its customers. Later, it returned with even more user-forward security features. So be aware that such a service can be compromised. Most will not die to protect you want a Webmail service that’s going to handle encrypted messages, the best we’ve seen is the free PreVeil, which offers secure cloud storage as well as weapons-grade encryption, and it’s easy to use. For more options, read The Best Email Encryption Services and How to Create an Anonymous Email Account.
You might think your Gmail account is safe, since you see that lock icon on the browser and access it with a secure sockets layer (SSL) connection (indicated by in the URL). But SSL only encrypts data as it’s transferred from your device to the is always going to be a problem with web-based services. Some services can provide encryption for those types of email: Virtru is one that’s specific to Gmail running on Chrome. Mailvelope is an extension (for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox) that will secure Gmail,, Yahoo Mail, and more. FlowCrypt is rhaps the smart move is to eschew web-based mail and stick with desktop client software. Outlook 2007 and later has built-in encryption tools, and Mozilla’s Thunderbird has add-ons galore (including many in our email encryption services roundup, like PreVeil) to handle message encryption/decryption. Avoiding Spam, Spam, and SpamBeyond the obvious safeguards—never, ever click on a link in a spam message or even open a spam email—the best way to defeat spam is never to let spammers get your email address. That’s almost impossible, unfortunately, but there are methods to one is to use an alias or dummy email, which works with any service that requires an email address. You might be able to set one up if you own your own domain name. In Google Workplace, for example, you have a primary address, such as [email protected], but you could also use [email protected] as an alias for online sign-ups; messages to the second one can be forwarded to the main address. When spam begins to collect, change or kill that second address. You can create up to 30 aliases per is a little more straightforward: To make an alias, append something to the user name. Turn “[email protected]” into “[email protected]”; Gmail ignores everything after the plus sign. Once the alias in question accumulates spam, filter it right into the trash. Here’s a video on how to do that in Gmail:Yahoo Mail offers Disposable Addresses (under Settings > Security), which are similar—there’s a base name, then a secondary keyword appended, like “[email protected]” also supports aliases, up to 10 per account. Look for Account Aliases under the Account settings. If you have your own domain name, check the control panel at your web host—it’s likely to have tools for creating aliases you need an alias temporarily, a disposable address is very handy. We have reviews of five products that offer disposable email addresses: Abine Blur, Bulc Club, Burner Mail, ManyMe, and SimpleLogin. Note that Abine Blur Premium lets you shop online without revealing your true email address, phone number, or credit card details, and it also manages your passwords. The program received a 4. 5 (outstanding) rating from our reviewer and also comes in a free version. Should you care about security when it comes to social networks such as Facebook? Of course. Facebook isn’t an altruistic nonprofit! It makes money by having lots of users looking at lots of ads. That occasionally means it makes your data available to questionable entities. And you might not want all your “friends” or their extended networks to know your can take several steps to regain some Facebook anonymity. First, on a desktop, go to the Account menu in the upper right and select Settings & Privacy > Settings > Privacy. Click the “Edit” link on every choice on this page to personalize who can see what, who can friend you, and even who can look you up. Make sure your posts are not spidered by search engines. Get as granular as you want—making sure, for example, that old boyfriends or girlfriends don’t see your posts (even the old posts). You can also perform a full Facebook Privacy Checkup.
Finally, inspect your contact info. Go to your General Account Settings, and again click “Edit” next to every entry. Double-check the email address and phone numbers entered. Minimize the list of who has access as much as possible to maximize you want to get out of Facebook entirely, delete your account. Deactivating is a different thing; it leaves your data on the site for your potential return. Go to this page and follow the instructions. It’ll deactivate your account for two weeks, just in case you really, really, really didn’t mean it. After that, it’s gone. But even then, some digital photos may LinkedIn, go to the Settings icon of your face in the upper right and select Settings & Privacy. In the center, select the Privacy about Twitter? Don’t list your website or real email in your profile. Make sure your password is different from that of any other site. That’s good advice across the board, but we know people don’t follow it, so we repeat it a lot. You really should with Twitter, which has had some security breaches. You also have the option, under Settings > Privacy and Safety, to protect your tweets, meaning only those followers you approve get access to them. Protected tweets aren’t searchable or retweetable, and you can’t share permanent links to them with non-approved said, you’re fooling yourself if you think using social networking (or posting anything online) is private whatsoever—all it takes is an “approved follower” to take a screengrab and share it with the you’re worried about getting tracked as you surf, sign out of the above services, as well as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Apple, when you’re done using them. Otherwise, the ad servers and cookies and so forth that are run by those services or their affiliates will pretty much know where and when you go online at all times. Signing out is a pain, because logging back in is a pain—and that’s exactly what the big companies tracking you are counting on.
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How to Browse the Web Anonymously – Lifewire
Untraceable web browsing prevents or severely limits others from knowing what you’re doing on the internet. While staying truly 100% hidden is next to impossible, you can employ several techniques to remain as anonymous as you can, and you don’t even need to significantly change how you interact with the internet to make it happen.
Normal web browsing leaves your information exposed to the website owner, your ISP, the government, and whoever else can gain access. Fortunately, there are several privacy tips you can adopt to use the internet with a little more stealth.
Why Browse Anonymously?
The answer might be different for everyone, but for most people, it boils down to privacy.
If you’re looking for a new job and would rather your employer not know, being more aware of your online presence can help limit what they can learn about you. Or, maybe you’re searching for prescription drug information, and you don’t want the website to track you or collect your real email—spamming your email isn’t as helpful to them if it’s not your “real” account that you check every day.
Anonymous web browsing can also be useful if you’re in a country that has constraining web policies. You can hide your browsing habits to bypass access restrictions.
If for no other reason, maybe you just want to feel comfortable knowing that your internet habits aren’t being tracked and logged for advertising purposes.
Anonymous Browsing Options
There are several things you can do to stay anonymous online, but some methods are better than others. Follow these steps to become the ultimate anonymous browser:
These are ranked in order of strength of privacy and ease of use. You can use one or more of them if you wish.
Hide your IP address with a web proxy. Not all proxies are created equally, but there are several free ones that are great for browsing the web anonymously, such as Hidester.
When you access a website through a proxy, what’s happening is that all the traffic is routed through a remote server before the page is downloaded onto your device. This means that your browsing appears to anyone who may be watching (the website you’re on, your ISP, the government, etc. ) to be originating from that server’s location instead of your real location.
Connect to a VPN. A VPN is similar to a web proxy, but useful in situations where you want everything encrypted and routed through other servers, not just one website. A VPN keeps not only your browsing anonymous but also any file sharing, messaging, etc.
Something important to look for when choosing a secure VPN is whether they keep logs pertaining to your visits and your search history. If they do, there’s a chance that they’ll give up that information to an authority figure if demanded, or that your private details will be leaked if a hacker gets a hold of it.
A VPN will only keep you as anonymous as you let it. For example, posting things to your public social media accounts, sending emails from your primary email address, etc., will expose your identity despite the fact that you did those things while using a VPN.
Use a privacy-minded web browser. One example of an anonymous browser that hides your web surfing habits is Tor Browser, which encrypts the traffic and routes it through multiple servers.
Search the web with a secure search engine like DuckDuckGo or Startpage, which promise to block advertising trackers and keep your search history private.
Other search engines might tell the websites you’re on what you were searching to get there, or share your habits with third-party companies to target you with ads, or disclose your search history to government authorities.
Which Search Engine Should You Be Using?
Avoid public Wi-Fi networks like in hotels and restaurants. It’s unclear who’s monitoring the traffic from the other side of the building, or what’s going on behind the scenes when it comes to that business’s security and privacy protocols.
In the same vein, don’t connect to a Wi-Fi network unless it’s using a modern encryption method like WPA2. To stay anonymous on Wi-Fi, make sure the network is using encryption.
Use your web browser’s private mode to prevent it from keeping track of the web pages you visited. Just close out of it when you’re done to prevent saving any passwords and history.
This anonymous browsing mode is helpful if you share your computer because the alternative is to use regular mode which does store a history of the pages you’ve opened and searches you performed.
Be mindful of cookies, and delete them if necessary.
Cookies are important for storing login information so that a website can give you access to your online account. However, other websites might be able to access them to expose who you are and what you’ve been doing online.
Other Ways to Stay Anonymous Online
Web browsing is just one facet of the online world. If you use email, a web-based texting service, a file transfer website, etc., you’ll need to consider how to stay anonymous there, too.
Use a secure email provider like ProtonMail, an anonymous email service, or a disposable email account.
The cloud storage service you use should promise zero-knowledge encryption.
Refrain from using your real payment information when shopping online, and instead opt for virtual cards from a service like Privacy or Blur.
Log in to a website with an account sharing service like BugMeNot to avoid attaching your personal details to the profile.
Stick to anonymous social networking sites.
Avoid instant messaging apps that don’t support end-to-end encryption; good choices include Signal and WhatsApp.
Set up your phone with a fake GPS location to fool apps and websites that use location tracking.
Delete your personal information from the internet, which anyone can use to dig up information like your phone number, address, relatives, etc.
Send texts anonymously with a website like Text’em.
Switch up the DNS servers you’re using; opt for a company that won’t log DNS queries, such as the Fourth Estate.
Make calls with an app that gives you a second number that isn’t tied to your real name.
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