IT experts say it is possible to remain anonymous on the Internet, but every day it becomes more and more difficult to do so. No single measure can guarantee a 100% result. However, measures to organize security and protection of confidential data can significantly complicate attempts by hackers, government services, advertisers, and intruders.
The modern Internet network is focused on advertising and tracking user behavior and actions. Government agencies, intelligence services, and retailers are interested in learning about members of the Internet community. It takes a lot of effort to throw experienced experts off the trail.
What do you lose when the Identity is made Public?
Many Internet users want to remain anonymous when they visit web pages, which is associated with the consequences of recognition. Users who do not conceal their identity and online activities may face the following problems.
- Theft of personal data: including logins, passwords, and search engine query lists Attackers’ access to personal data can mean difficulties in obtaining a bank loan, financial losses, and distortion of credit history.
- Information Gathering: Large technology corporations like Cambridge Analytica and Facebook are actively collecting data on social media account holders. A major scandal in 2018 revealed to the world the use of the personal data of 50 million Facebook users during the U.S. presidential election.
- Tracking for advertising purposes: Merchants use the personal data of online community members as part of their targeting advertising efforts. Every unprotected user is forced to constantly monitor the appearance of ads that are sorted according to their requests.
The Internet space was created to quickly provide users with a variety of information. However, today, members of the Internet community are under constant surveillance. Privacy protections can help reduce the negative impact on your life.
What to do
The modern Internet is built on tracking, collecting, and analyzing data about users. One of the most effective tools to ensure anonymity on the network is the software product Tor.
It is designed to organize “onion routing”—modern technology of anonymous data exchange. It assumes that the system of servers performs repeated encryption of all information sent through the channel.
Tor helps to create a tamper-proof network connection. Every time a user connects to a web server, traffic is routed to the final destination through a random combination of network nodes.
The main disadvantage of Tor software is that it slows down traffic. This option is not suitable for streaming videos and other heavy files. Even if the traffic is encrypted, the ISP knows that you are using Tor.
The slightest suspicion can provoke increased attention to your person – Tor is often installed for criminal activities on the Internet. Probable consequences – bandwidth restrictions, notification of the authorities about your activities – can occur even if you do not intend to violate the law.
To avoid the consequences, experts recommend turning on a VPN at the same time as Tor.
VPN software is designed to protect personal data from theft, reduce risks due to connection to public Wi-Fi networks, and create privacy conditions.
The private virtual network encrypts all outgoing and incoming traffic. This changes the IP address of the device, so the ISP and other interested parties can’t track the user’s online activity.
A VPN app protects your privacy as much as possible – it prevents third parties from finding out what you’re doing on the Internet. However, it doesn’t guarantee complete anonymity – it’s impossible to identify a member of the online community.
The provider can’t find out what web pages you visit, but he has access to information about the time and duration of VPN use. The level of protection increases if the VPN service is provided by a reliable provider – visit site.
Some VPN services work in conjunction with their DNS servers to achieve maximum efficiency in establishing a secure Internet connection. When you enter a URL in your browser, a request is sent to a DNS server, which is a kind of database of domain information. Even when using a VPN, requests can go beyond the encrypted channel to the DNS server.
As a result of such leaks, the query information becomes known to the ISP. If the VPN provider uses its DNS server, the leaks can be prevented. Special tools can help you find out if there are DNS leaks. If the VPN service does not protect against DNS leaks, you can switch to a public DNS server without logging, such as DNS.WATCH or OpenNIC.
Alternative and auxiliary options
Live OS: An OS that boots from removable media and does not require installation on the hard drive to maintain functionality. A live OS (Tails, Whonix) can be loaded from a USB flash drive or DVD. By selecting the desired settings, you run a completely isolated operating system that leaves no trace of your Internet presence.
Therefore we do have dedicated article on how to create Persistent Tails Bootable USB on Linux to protect your privacy so don’t forget to check.
All traffic goes through the Tor network. All data, like messages, emails, searches, and files, is encrypted immediately. With a live OS, no IP address leakage occurs, so it’s impossible to trace user activity on the Internet.
Some browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Edge can view web pages in incognito mode. Activating the function causes a browser window to open in which cookies and browsing history are not saved.
Incognito mode does not provide other identifiers. This measure will help protect your privacy when several family members use the same computer—they won’t be able to see what sites you’ve visited.
However, working in incognito mode will not protect the user from the vigilant oversight of the ISP, intelligence services, and other intruders. To improve security measures, it is better to combine private browsing with a VPN service.
To use some applications and to fully browse the content of websites, it is often necessary to register with an email address. In this case, anonymity is out of the question.
So, to increase privacy, experts recommend using special services that provide temporary email addresses for registration. For example, the service Guerrilla Mail provides a one-time address for free, which is stored for 1 hour and then deleted.
Search engines, such as Google, track user requests. Using Tor and VPNs helps protect personal data If you have to do without these tools, you should consider using search engines that emphasize user privacy. DuckDuckGo offers online search without tracking or advertising.
To exchange quick messages, you can use Signal, a service that is designed to increase user privacy and security. Messenger, with an emphasis on privacy, allows you to blur people’s faces in photos to ensure identity protection. Proton Mail offers encrypted webmail services.
However, the virtual private network cannot ensure complete anonymity—some statistical information (metadata) is not encrypted. Experienced hackers can easily detect information such as how long the user has been online and the type of communication (text or voice message, video call, email). Means of mass surveillance are constantly improving, which makes it difficult to remain anonymous on the Internet.
The topic is not ended here you can harden your Firefox by following our two separate guides
- Basic steps to make a Firefox browser resistible for privacy
- Advance tweaking about:config on Firefox
If you are aware of some of the more precautionary steps, then do let us know in a comment section.