Have you ever considered how anonymous you really are online? Although being able to track internet users is useful when it comes to criminals and the likes, are regular people who are doing no harm right to want to remain anonymous? Or, do you want to stay anonymous for a reason, such as accessing geo-blocked sites to stream video when in another location such as on vacation? Although being tracked online through your IP address can sometimes be nearly impossible, there are a number of things which you can do to make it easier.
DNS Proxy Server
A DNS proxy server is one of the easiest methods in which you can remain anonymous whilst surfing the web. It works by changing your IP address to a DNS IP, and also works for any device in your home, including mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, gaming consoles and smart televisions along with regular desktop and laptop computers. Not to be confused with a Virtual Private Network (VPN), a DNS proxy server is faster, and often also offers heightened internet speed and reliability for users, as well as security settings. With a DNS proxy server, it’s also possible to unblock geo-blocked content on websites such as Netflix or HBO. Check out Smart DNS for more information.
Virtual Private Network
A virtual private network (VPN) works in a similar way to a DNS proxy server, however it’s often slower. Virtual private networks have been used in the past for anonymity online and for unblocking geo-blocked content, and although they do work for this purpose, many users have experienced a deterioration in internet speeds due to the amount of data which needs to be processed. However, if it is simply anonymity online which you are looking for, a VPN still makes an ideal choice.
When it comes to viewing emails, staying anonymous often means staying secure. If you are using a popular email service such as Gmail or Yahoo!, you may wish to consider using a secure webmail extension, which will bring OpenPGP encryption or similar to your webmail service. These extensions can encrypt and decrypt any emails which you send through your webmail service, meaning that the encrypted text will never reach the webmail servers. However, in order to read emails sent through this service, recipients will also need to install the extension.
One of the most basic options for privacy which you will be able to take advantage of as an internet user is the Incognito or private browsing option offered by the majority of popular internet browsers, such as Google, Mozilla Firefox, and Internet Explorer. All of these browsers have a private browsing mode which can be found in the settings menu. With this private browsing mode activated, your computer will not store cookies or internet history on your computer. However, although this feature has its uses, they are quite limited and do not securely hide your identity as your IP address remains the same.
Avoid Social Media
The amount of information and data which social media sites store about their users is quite shocking. The main social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus have harvested a large amount of personal information from their users, some of which you may be surprised to find out. On Facebook, information such as the people who you have spoken to, events which you have or haven’t attended, and each time you have logged in and out of social media are documented. There is a similar kind of data collection for the majority of social media sites which you may be using. However, if you are unwilling to give up this kind of information to social networking companies, the only sure fire way to ensure that the data is removed is to completely delete your account. However, you should be able to access the data which the network holds about you before you make a decision.
Cookies are small bits of code which are automatically downloaded from a website and stored on your system. Cookies allow websites to easily ‘remember’ whether you have visited there before, allowing the website to then alter certain variables depending on your activity on your last visit. Although this can result in a better experience, some cookies can be potentially intrusive with the details which they store. Although destroying cookies may not do much to help you stay completely anonymous, it can stop websites tracking your activity.
How do you stay anonymous online? Let us know in the comments.