Some might say that the Internet is built on anonymity, paving the way for a place where freedom of speech is a top priority. But after years of learning who snoops into everything we do online, privacy on the Internet is hardly a matter of course.
It's not just government espionage. It's also about how many big companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft have accumulated to serve targeted ads. (Not to mention how much of your personal information is collected on all the security breaches and hacks.)
There will always be good reasons for people to go online without being persecuted. This may be the only way for a true whistleblower to expose corruption, considering how some have been handled. There is nothing wrong with staying anonymous no matter what you do.
Is it even possible to take control of your privacy online? After all, the only way to stay truly anonymous online is … not going online at all. This is not an option for most of us. Below is an overview of your capabilities to minimize spying, targeted advertising, and identity theft as you explore the world online.
Check your system
Confidentiality of phone calls
If you want to remain anonymous, forget the smartphone. The best-known manufacturers of operating systems are Kontrollfreaks (Apple) and Ad-Server (Google). If you want to stay anonymous on a phone, choose a prepaid phone, a burner.
Call lists are also available with a burner, and they can be triangulated via GPS. The top of a burner does not have your real name associated with the device. As you can see in the movies, you can always drop the phone in a passing truck and lead the person who might track you on goosebumps.
However, if you have an expensive smartphone, getting more hardware is a problem. Fortunately, there are numerous apps that can give you temporary, anonymous numbers for Android or iOS. One of these apps is aptly called "Burner".
Light That Firewall
Is 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 access a system.
You should always have a router on your home network that can buffer this through the built-in firewall. A router uses NAT (Network Address Translation) to assign each device on your home network an IP address that is then visible only on that network. Direct attacks can sometimes be stopped immediately. You will also need the router to share the Internet connection and Wi-Fi.
The modems of some ISPs have a built-in router, so they are always protected. For more information, see our overview of the best wireless routers, each of which helps protect your home.
You can also use a firewall software installed on your PC. Windows 1
If you want true anonymity based on your operating system, you should no longer use Windows or macOS on the desktop Switch to a Linux distribution that specializes in all kinds of secrecy. Your best bet is Tails: The Amnesic Incognito Live System.
Sleuth Your Own Stealth
What Can Your Computer (or Tablet) Do? or smartphone) about you when you visit websites? At least the site knows your IP address (and that's necessary, otherwise you'll get no results).
In most cases, it also knows your approximate physical location (by checking where your ISP provides these IP addresses – see it in action at IPLocation) and probably your time zone and what language you speak – all good information for advertisers. Your browser may also report on your operating system, browser type, and the versions of software you are running for browser plug-ins. It even displays the fonts that you have installed. All this can cause your system to get a unique fingerprint. And anyone who has seen Law & Order knows that sometimes a unique fingerprint is enough to track you down.
If you do not believe it, visit MyBrowserInfo or BrowserLeaks.com for a complete report. Then take a look at the EFF panopticlick tool to see how well your browser and VPN protect you. You will be sharing your rewarding browser extension called Privacy Badger with you. It monitors sites that you monitor. The Ghostery browser extension, which blocks all types of trackers and ads on almost all browsers, is similar to Privacy Badger, but gives you a little more control.
 Even if a VPN (virtual private network) is running as desired, this can lead to leaks. So you put yourself back in the stealth mode.
Make sure your browser does not store too much personal information. Disable the browser's preference in the settings menu to save the passwords you use to access websites and services. This can be painful as you should have a different password for each service you use. The best alternative: Use a password manager such as PCMag's 4.5-star editor selection, LastPass and Dashlane.
For example, browsers store images, the history of surfing and what you've downloaded, and cookie files that you can remember useful things like settings and passwords. Delete this information occasionally. here is how.
Important browsers also have anonymous surfing modes. Chrome states Incognito (Ctrl + Shift + N to access it). in Firefox, it's Private Browsing (Ctrl + Shift + P); and in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer it is in private browsing (also Ctrl + Shift + P). Using it will prevent the browser from storing information about visited pages, regardless of what you're looking for – passwords, cookies, downloads, and cached content, such as images.
There are a number of browsers that focus on privacy. Of course, they all use the same rendering engines as the big names, especially Google's Chromium engine. The difference is that the browsers do not share information with Google. Examples include Epic, Comodo Dragon, Comodo IceDragon (based on Firefox) and of course the Tor browser (see below) At least a free VPN is installed. (Note that it only protects your browser's traffic, not the other apps that use the Internet.)
Use a search engine other than Google or Bing to sell, sell, or sell you. Go to DuckDuckGo, which does not track you or sell your information, or to these options.
Remember to use the stealth modes and special browsers do not make you completely anonymous, but prevent sites from writing information to your computer, including cookies, which can later be read by other websites to determine your browsing habits.
Proxies and VPNs and Tor, Oh My
To make sure that outsiders do not collect information about you while surfing the Internet, you must be at a different location than someone else. This requires a proxy server and / or a VPN connection . With the right combination, not only can you be anonymous, you can also surf websites in other countries as if you were a native speaker.
Proxies are not for beginners, but FoxyProxy can get you started. It works with popular browsers and offers proxy services and VPN tools.
VPN services are everywhere. They have the advantage of not only securing the traffic between your computer and the servers, but also masking your IP address and location. For example, if you make a VPN connection through my work, websites believe I'm in the corporate office, even though I work from home.
VPNs are also a double way to access location-based content. For example, if you are in a country where you do not receive the BBC iPlayer or Netflix, a VPN may be your ticket.
No discussion of anonymity online is complete without mention Gate . The name comes from the abbreviation for "The Onion Router" – which means that many levels of security are offered here.
Tor is a free network of tunnels for forwarding web requests and downloading pages – it's not the same as a VPN, but may be even more secure when it comes to your identity. This is to make it impossible for the website you access to find out who you are. But is that it?
The NSA spy controversy that Edward Snowden revealed in 2013 included what was considered a workaround to identify Tor's users , But it was not that easy. As the security expert Bruce Schneier stated in The Guardian the NSA actually oversees the so-called Gate Home Nodes – the authority could determine that users used Tor, but not who the users were. By setting up a "man in the middle" attack, the NSA pretended to be the user-requested website (eg, Google), and was able to return data to the user who exploited exploitable gaps in the browser – no gap in Tor ,
The lesson there: Keep your browsers up to date or use one of the previously mentioned anonymizing browsers.
Guess who else has an anonymizing browser? Tor, that's who. It's a browser bundle for Windows (run it from a flash drive to take it), MacOS or Linux. It is available in 16 languages. There is also a Tor browser for Android devices; iOS users can try the third-party VPN + TOR browser private web app.
Tor is not completely foolproof. It is assumed that you can still be followed by qualified people (even if they can not read what you are sending). The list of possible goal weaknesses is long. If you feel the trend that nothing keeps you 100 percent anonymous, take care. But it's like a lock on a door – sure someone could kick it, but why should you leave the door open?
As nice as it is to stay anonymous while surfing, it may even be more important that your email goes unnoticed if you want to avoid spam or surveillance. The problem is that emails were simply not created with security in mind.
There are, of course, secure e-mail services that use encryption to encrypt the content sent and require the recipient to decrypt their message. Edward Snowden used a webmail service called Lavabit that was so certain that the government insisted on releasing users' private keys. Lavabit was shut down immediately to protect its customers. Later, it returned with even more user-routed security features. So, keep in mind that ProtonMail is number 1 when using such a service. However, this does not mean that no compromises can be made from the pile. With a data center in Switzerland, where data protection is in the foreground, charges for the service in the amount of 5 € per month and up to 30 € per month for more space and aliases. It protects all your e-mail information from searching, destroys messages, and offers apps for iOS and Android. For more options, see Creating an Anonymous E-Mail Account.
You may find that your Gmail account is secure because the lock icon appears in the browser, and you can access the SSL (Sockets Layer) connection with a secure icon https: // in the URL). However, SSL only encrypts data when it is transferred from your device to the server. Google will continue to read your emails to optimize advertising placed on Gmail. This will always be a problem with web-based services.
However, there are tools to encrypt web-based emails. Mailvelope is an extension (for Chrome and Firefox) that protects Gmail, Outlook.com and Yahoo Mail. FlowCrypt is another.
The smart measure may be to avoid web-based emails and stick to the desktop client software. In Outlook 2007 and later, some encryption tools are integrated, while Mozilla's Thunderbird has add-ons such as Engimail for message encryption / decryption.
Avoiding Spam, Spam, and Spam
ANYONE who clicks on a link in a spam message or even opens a spam e-mail – the best way to avoid spam is to never let it pass that they receive your address. It's almost impossible, but there are ways to reduce it.
Number one is the use of an alias or dummy e-mail that can be used with any service that requires an e-mail address. You may be able to set one up if you have your own domain name. For example, in G Suite, you have your primary address, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, but you can use William@yoursite.com as an alias for online sign-ups to which messages can be routed to the main address. When spam begins to accumulate, change or kill that second address. Up to 30 aliases per person can be specified.
Gmail is a bit more straightforward: To create an alias, add something to the username. Turn email@example.com into firstname.lastname@example.org. Once the alias in question accumulates spam, filter it directly into the trash. Here is a video on how it works in Gmail:
Yahoo Mail has available addresses (under Settings> ) Security ), which are similar – there is a base name to which a secondary keyword is appended, such as email@example.com. Outlook.com also supports aliases, up to 10 per account. In Account Settings, search for " Account aliases ". If you have your own domain name, check the control panel of your web host. They probably have tools to create aliases galore.
If you need an alias for a short time, an available address is very convenient. Free services like GuerrillaMail.com and Mailinator create an address that you can only check for a short time.
Social (network) security
Should you value security when it comes to social networks like Facebook? One word: Duh. Facebook is not an altruistic nonprofit organization. It makes money by having many users looking at many ads. This sometimes means that you provide your data to questionable bodies. Also, you may not want all "friends" or their extended networks to know your entire business, or?
You can take several steps to restore the anonymity of Facebook. On a desktop, first open the Account menu at the top right and select Settings> Privacy . For each selection on this page, click the "edit" link to personalize who can see what, who you're friends with, and who you can look up. Make sure your posts are not discovered by search engines.
Finally, verify your contact information. Go to your General Account Settings and click "Edit" next to each entry again. Check the e-mail address and the entered phone numbers. Minimize the list of people who have access as much as possible to maximize anonymity.
If you need to completely leave Facebook, delete the account . If you disable it, your data will remain on the website for your potential return. Go to this page and follow the directions. It disables your account for two weeks, just in case you really, really, really did not mean it that way. After that it is gone. Nevertheless, some digital photos can linger.
Go to LinkedIn to your face's preferences icon at the top right and select Settings & Privacy . Select the Privacy tab in the middle.
What about Twitter ? Do not list your website or real email in your profile. Make sure your password is different from other websites. This is generally good advice, but we know that people do not follow him, so we repeat him often. You really should be using Twitter, which had some security holes . You can also use Settings> Privacy and Security to protect your tweets so that only the followers you have authorized access to. Protected tweets are not searchable, can not be retweeted and you can not release permanent links with them for unauthorized followers] Any post online) is 100 percent secure – all you need is a "legal follower", to pick up a screen grave and share it with the world.
If you're worried about being tracked while surfing, you'll also need to unsubscribe from the above services, as well as from Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Apple if you stop using these services. Otherwise, the ad servers, cookies, and so on, operated by them or their affiliates, know pretty much exactly where and when you go online at any time. Not logging off is a pain – and that's exactly what the big companies rely on.