How to be Anonymous Online

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Let’s face it: A lot of us have this misconception that the world of the Internet gives you freedom of speech. To your disappointment, this isn’t the case. In fact, we are being monitored around the clock; causing plenty of our personal information being collected and shared with who so ever. It seems like Internet users are becoming more aware of this since we can see a spike in VPN usage. Also, this is the reason why you’re reading this article on how to stay anonymous online. So, here’s what you need to know.

This article is based on a series of actions you should do to preserve your online anonymity. This ranges from using advanced settings of your Web browser, up to using specialized tools that prevent data leaks. Worry not, all of the following choices are available for average computer users – without advanced technical knowledge.

7 Steps to Stay Anonymous Online

Gaining online anonymity is not a case of being disappear or being completely exposed. It depends on who you are trying to hide your identity from and how much it matters that they know who you are. You also don’t have to anonymize everything you do on the Internet. It depends on what aspects of your life you really feel should be kept to yourself; or what your principles on matters of privacy are.

Total anonymity requires Herculean efforts; but getting anonymity where it matters or just a much stronger level of identity protection overall is something you can achieve with moderate effort and mindfulness. Here, we present to you some practical ways to protect your identity online that range from the easy to the totally paranoid. Pick the ones that best suit your personal needs.

1. Use Private Browsing Modes

The first trick that any citizen of the Web should learn is the use of private browsing modes in your web browser. In Google Chrome, for example, it’s called Incognito mode, but in other browsers, it may be called Private browsing or something similar.

It is essential to know that private browsing modes are actually not very private at all. They are, however, handy for controlling the kind of information saved on your local machine. It stops your browser from logging your browsing history and doesn’t add anything to electronic forms. It also prevents websites from storing cookies, which is information that sites store on your device so that they can use it later when you visit again. Just recently, we had a case of an online app using cookies to leak private data.

The main reason you’d want to use a private browsing mode is to avoid having locally stored cookies on your computer. It is also an excellent way to see what websites would look like without access to your personal info.

2. Use a (Non-Logging) VPN to Be Anonymous Online

Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN is a kind of network technology that masks and encrypts the information that runs to and from your home internet network so that nobody else can tell what you are doing online. With a correctly set up VPN, you can make it almost impossible for anyone to intercept and monitor your information.

Not just any VPN will do either if you really want to have anonymity. You see, although no one else can access your information, the VPN service you use can still see everywhere you go and everything you do. This means that if the government of their home country orders them to surrender that information, your private data will be handed over. Thus, it’s a good idea to choose a suitable VPN that’s situated in a country with strong personal privacy laws and a ‘no-logging’ policy. All that means is that although they can see what you’re doing through the VPN connection, they won’t keep records of it.

You can cover all your home internet devices by setting the VPN up on your router (where possible) or do it on a per-device basis. You can even install it on your phone or tablet to protect you when away from home.

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3. Secure Your Home Router

Your router is the gateway into and out of your home network. It is the IP address of the router that the outside world views typically, not the individual systems that connect to it. If somebody gets access to your router from the outside, they can wreak all sorts of havoc on you.

The good news is that just paying attention to some basic settings can help keep your router safe and prevent people from probing the Internet for a vulnerable IP address from getting into your systems. This includes changing the default username and password for your router. It’s insane how many people don’t change their password from “admin” to something else. It also provides a second layer of security, since if someone manages to crack your local Wi-Fi password, they still wouldn’t immediately get into the router itself. There’s an extensive list of things you can do to make sure your router protects your identity and data. Be sure to give them careful consideration. It’s also wise to invest in a capable router in the first place.

4. Take Advantage of The Tor Browser

‘Tor’ is a lot of things, but the first thing worth knowing is that it is short for ‘the onion router.’ Tor is a worldwide network of nodes and servers that provide a way for anyone to stay anonymous online.

Unlike a VPN, this is not a point-to-point tunnel, but a multi-layer community-supported network that bounces your data around and around until no one looking in from the outside can tell what comes from who. There’s no way at the moment for someone to trace data sent through the Tor network back to its source.

You can set up a Tor router so that all your Internet traffic is protected, but to be honest, it’s a pretty technical and involved process. Unless everything you do on the Internet requires a high level of privacy that Tor offers, it’s much easier to use the Tor Browser to be anonymous online.

Everything you do through the Tor browser is protected by the Tor network, although there are still some things you need to take care not to do. The Tor browser is an excellent solution for keeping you anonymous when you need to access certain places or services that your government or other parties might not like. Unless everything you do falls into that category, you shouldn’t try to run everything through Tor because it’s a) slower and b) going to slow it down for everyone else. It’s a fantastic tool, but not a total solution.

5. Activate and Secure Your Firewall

A firewall is a part of hardware or software that examines every piece of information that carries through your home network to the external world. The firewall has a set of edicts on what should or should not be let through. By default, for example, an Internet router’s built-in firewall is anchored to reject external connections. This means that somebody trying to access your router and take control of it will hit a solid brick wall.

You should check that your router’s hardware firewall is activated and running correctly. Review what sort of exceptions have been approved for it and make sure there aren’t unnecessary holes in it.

6. Read Those Privacy Policies

The worst kind of violations of your online anonymity is those that you voluntarily commit to yourself. We’ve all been lulled into the complacent habit of just clicking ‘Agree’ when we’re told that privacy policy has been updated or even when it’s shown to us for the first time.

If you take your online anonymity and overall privacy seriously, you owe it to yourself to read through those privacy policies so that you know exactly what you are permitting a given company to do with your information.

Some policies allow you to say yes or no to certain things selectively. Try to get away with the minimum number of concessions. If there really is something in a product or service’s privacy policy that you don’t feel comfortable with, then it’s better to walk away from it. Don’t underestimate how valuable your online anonymity really is.

7. Keep a Handle on Malware

Even the best of us can fall for it; You visit a site that’s not savory, or you connect to a public network without the right security in place. Without even knowing it, your computer can come under the control of outside elements such as criminals or intelligence agencies. This ‘malware’ can make your computer rat you out to whoever owns it. The malware will watch your screen, record your keystrokes, and then send all that juicy info back home.

So be sure to have good anti-malware software, such as Malwarebytes, installed on your devices. Ensuring that you don’t give away everything you have without being aware of it. Also, let’s not forget about antivirus applications. These are very useful in keeping away potentially dangerous files and actively shielding you from malware.

Conclusion -Stay Anonymous Online

Conclusively, staying anonymous online is not just a matter of using particular tools or doing certain things. It’s also about having the right mindset, which esteems your identity and puts identity issues first. So, we hope you can learn how to stay anonymous online. 

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