There are many reason why one might want to stay anonymous on the internet, for example:

  • Avoid identity theft
  • Protecting children
  • Staying safe from snooping governments

Becoming truly anonymous on the internet is difficult and requires quite the effort. By making privacy your top priority and being extremely careful about who you provide your real contact details to, you can browse the internet while minimizing the chance that someone can personally identify you.

If you want to keep yourself safe, you can do so by taking some basic precautions to hide your identity:

The Browser

It is important to understand that while browsing the internet, your browser will store cookies when visiting websites. Generally these cookies contain unique information about the visitor (you). Among other things, these cookies are sent to the web server each time a request is made, in addition to that, the web server will log your IP address as well.

When using tools and / or services to stay anonymous on the internet with a web browser that was previously used in a non-anonymous session could still reveal your identity. This can be done by correlating the IP addresses “attached” to the unique cookie(s), which are stored in the web server logs.

It is really important to use a separate browser for regular browsing and anonymous browsing the internet. When done browsing the internet anonymously, make sure all cookies are deleted.

E-mail

Websites often require you to sign up using your e-mail address. Since it is hard to identify the level of security of these websites, it is recommended to avoid using your private e-mail address.  Databases are often dumped and shared among cyber criminals, revealing sensitive information about people.

Using a disposable e-mail address is convenient if you quickly want to check out a website that require you to sign up. There are many services available that provide you a temporary e-mail address, here are a few of them:

Melt mail will generate a temporary e-mail address and forward these e-mails to your personal mailbox for a selected period of time.

Anonymity Services

There are several services available to hide your IP address in order to stay anonymous on the internet, both paid a free:

VPN

A VPN or a Virtual Private Network reroutes your internet traffic to another location before it reaches the destination web server or any other service on the internet.

Instead of your IP address showing up in the destination web server log files, the IP address of the VPN provider will show up in the destination web server logs. Use a search engine to find them.

At the time of writing, my personal preference are Swedish VPN providers. By Swedish law providers are not allowed to maintain a customer database to correlate your data. In rare cases, such as fraud, the Swedish law enforcement can force providers to submit the data a customer used during the sign up process.

One thing to keep in mind is that when using a VPN, it is possible to leak DNS information which is another privacy risk. Please visit DNS Leak Test to get a better understanding about this matter, how to detect it and how to fix or prevent this.

Proxies

Proxies allow you to easily mask your IP address shown to websites that you visit and are quite easy to use. Certain proxy providers also have browser addons to easily enable or disable the connection to the proxy server.

Another benefit of using proxies is to bypass country restrictions such as Netflix and YouTube. Use one of the following proxies to quickly test it:

There are many proxy lists available on the internet, use your favorite search engine to find these lists.

TOR

Tor or The Onion Router is anonymity software which can run on Windows, MAC, Linux, Android and iPhone (required to be jail broken).

Using Tor makes it more difficult for Internet activity to be traced back to the user: this includes visits to web sites, online posts, instant messages and other forms of communication.

For regular PCs, “the browser bundle” is available. It’s a complete and portable package to browse the internet anonymously and works out of the box. It can be downloaded from: https://www.torproject.org

Search Engines

Many search engines will track your personal details, such as your physical location, IP address, browsing habits and your search queries. A few search engines that are supposed to be secure and private:

Social Media

In order to stay anonymous on the internet, it is recommended to avoid social media completely. Unless you create a fake account using an anonymous connection and use this connection only to access your account.

Be aware what you post and upload on social media if you want to stay anonymous on the internet. Uploading a photo with your smartphone to social media might reveal your location as GPS coordinates could be embedded in this photo.

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