The ISP, your government, as well as the sites and services you use invades your privacy round the clock. In fact, Google and Facebook have faced several lawsuits because these two giants are allegedly selling your personal data to data brokers and third-party marketers.
So, can you be truly anonymous online? Fortunately, yes, and you don’t have to be a technoid. By reading this article, you’ll be able to browse the web using all your devices with absolute maximum security and privacy.
Best Ways to Help you Stay Anonymous Online
Passwords: Easy to Remember, But Hard to Crack
Don’t be an idiot by using your pet’s name or a line from a popular song!
I lost count of the articles explaining the importance of a strong password, which involves a combination of letters, numeric digits, and special characters.
Since the strongest passwords are also the hardest to remember, you’ll want to have a password manager with all your passwords created inside of it. If there is one password you should memorize, it is the password for the password manager.
I also suggest using two-factor authentication for your smartphone; however, you’ll want to avoid using biometrics, voice activation, et cetera.
Outsmart Social Engineers
Social media platforms like Facebook will require you to fill in tons of personal information, including your work history, religious beliefs, and favorite movie. Unless you are promoting your business, do not enter real information. Do not check-in to places you’ve visited or mention your real name, address, phone number, et cetera.
But, wait! Isn’t Google asking for a phone number to verify your account?
You’ll have to enter a phone number at some point, but you’ll want to use an alternate phone number for your online presence. An excellent idea is to use a virtual phone number, which then forwards everything to your main number.
And remember what mommy used to say? Don’t talk to strangers! Limit your circle to your family and closest of friends, especially on Facebook.
It may surprise you, but people don’t need as many technical skills to find a person. Social engineers — or just plain hardcore stalkers — can learn more about you through your contacts.
You’ll also want to stay away from public comment sections; you don’t know who you are talking to. By simply expressing your thoughts, they will definitely know who you are. Creepy!
SMS texting is completely insecure, but popular alternatives like Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp might actually be worse. The best thing to do is use iMessage for your Apple device or install Signal and set it as your default SMS app for your Android device.
Signal features “end-to-end encryption,” which means it encodes your text in a way that only your receiver’s device can open. Not even Signal or your phone company can read your messages. Likewise, Signal protects your phone calls as an added feature.
Be Wary of Sketchy Apps
You are free to use whatever web browser you prefer, but it is wise to scratch Chrome out of your list since Google is notable for collecting all of your data. Try to stick with Firefox. You’ll also want to switch your default search engine to DuckDuckGo. Never store cookies and history cache.
Moreover, don’t give apps and services permissions you don’t need to grant. Many apps are snooping on your location or SMS texts when it is not relevant.
You’ll want to disable Bluetooth and Location as frequently as possible. Limit apps or programs. Install only the essentials for your smartphone or computer, and remove those you no longer need.
Use Digital Currency to Pay Online
Now, what is the best way to spend money online? Again, do not enter any of your real information inside any website requesting payment.
An easy way is to purchase a prepaid debit card and activate it using fake information. Better yet, pay with cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. However, the problem with cryptocurrencies is that not many websites support them yet.
VPN is Your Bestfriend
A VPN encrypts the data you’re sending out, executes anything you may be asking of it on your behalf, and gives you the results.
Remember your friend back in junior high who sends you crumpled notes to your crush? Yeah. A VPN acts as a front for you, but if your crush asks where the letter came from, he wouldn’t tell a soul.
A virtual private network is actually a big enterprise, offering a large degree of safety and privacy to its clients. In theory, the VPN provider could tell others who you are and give up your IP at any given time, but fortunately, keeping secrets is how they earn money.
Nord is one of the highest-rated VPNs out there; you’ll want to check it out. But if you really want to take things to the next level, this is where TOR comes.
The Onion Router Project
TOR stands for “The Onion Router;” it is a specialized browser designed to make you anonymous online. Similar to a torrent, the TOR network is comprised of a multitude of anonymous volunteer-run servers, also known as TOR relays.
When you send a request, it goes in the TOR network like a ping-pong ball in a gambling machine until it hits an exit. If you connect to TOR through a VPN, you’re hiding the data that you’re sending and recieving from your ISP. If you aren’t tech-savvy, you might face a steep learning curve during the early days. Then again, you’ll want to learn to do any of this stuff if you don’t want to be exploited.
If you are an Android user, you’ll want to get Orbot to connect to the TOR network and use Orfox as your browser. But if you don’t want to connect to the TOR network, you have the option to install Firefox Focus. As for Apple users, your best option is Red Onion, but you’ll need to cash out $1.99.
Now, is TOR illegal? Certainly not! Using TOR to be anonymous is not a criminal act regardless who uses it. Neither the network or the browser is illegal anywhere in the world. Funnily enough, people who have minute understanding of technology considers it as a form of hacking.
Wipe Your Hard Drive
Now and again you’ll want to wipe your hard drive’s free space to ensure nobody could recover those files you deleted. Most importantly, you’ll want to use drive encryption, such as BitLocker on Windows or File Locker for Mac.
You’ll also want to protect your bios and your storage drive with a password. Lastly, spoof your MAC address using SMAP!
People have quite a few different reasons that would want to hide their identity online. Whatever your reason, these tips can only help you if you have ditched your addiction to social media.
This is probably the toughest thing to do. If you can overcome that, then it is possible for you to become completely anonymous on the Internet.