Worried about Big Brother tracking your every move online? Here's how to put a stop to that completely!
We live in a world of inter-connectivity and thanks to that, it's not hard for everything you do online to be tracked and monitored. No need to get out your tinfoil hat just yet. There are ways to ensure your anonymity online.
photo credit: Tails
Tails, is a live operating system, which sole design is to keep your identity hidden while you are online. Tails is based off of Debian/GNU. All of its applications use the Tor network in order to ensure your online trail, is kept private. Tails doesn't have to be installed onto the computer you are using it on. It can just be ran from a DVD, USB drive or SD card. It also comes with its own web browser, email client, instant messaging client, office suite and image/sound editors and more. Click here to find out more about Tails and to get information about downloading it.
The Tor browser, is by far, the most popular tool for people who want to use the internet anonymously. Millions of people use Tor everyday for their personal and professional use. The Tor browser is just one part of the ever growing Tor Project. Tor was developed by the United States Navy, along with some independent researchers, in 2002. The Tor project has since then, continued to grow. How does the Tor browser work? The Tor browser first takes your data and places in into an encrypted bundle. Then it strips away part of the packet header, which contains information that could be used to identify what operating system you are using or where your location is. Next, it encrypts the package wrapper. This is the part of the packet that contains the rest of the addressing information. The packet is then routed through many servers ,or relays as they are called, until it reaches its intended destination. Each relay, along the way, only partially decrypt's the packet. It only decrypt's enough of the data packet to see two things;One, to know which relay the packet came from and Two, to which relay it is going to. Then the relay re-wraps the packet in a new package and transmits it. This process anonymizes the address information and the transmission routed over the Tor network is impossible to fully trace. These two processes are what make anonymity possible with the Tor Browser. For more information check out the Tor browser or the Tor Project.
Probably the simplist way to achieve anonymity, while being online, is by using a VPN. VPN, stands for Virtual Private Network. VPNs create a secure connection between your computer and the internet. Normally, anything sent over a VPN is encrypted and very secure. They prevent your data from being eavesdropped on or snooped upon. There are a lot of VPN service providers out there and they are relatively inexpensive, if not free. I mentioned more about VPNs and some of the popular VPN service providers, in a previous article here.
There are quite a few browser add-ons available. They can help you achieve some degree of online anonymity, but nowhere near what the other options, previously listed, can achieve. Here's a list of some of the popular browser add-ons used for privacy.
Disconnect- Blocks 3rd party scripts from tracking you. Each time a script is blocked, a number will appear next to the Disconnect Icon. You can click on it, see whats been blocked and whose been tracking you online.
Ghostery- This plugin was a favorite of Eric Snowden's. It's similar in function to Disconnect, as it also blocks trackers from following you, however it doesn't automatically block them for you. It will show you the number of trackers and then you have to either enable or disable them manually.
HTTPS Everywhere- HTTPS, is the secure version of the HTTP protocol. Many sites use HTTPS, but they default back to the non-secure version of their site or contain links that are non-secure. This add-on forces all requests to use the HTTPS protocol. This way all of your data is encrypted and protected.
Privacy Badger- Similar to Disconnect and Ghostery, because it blocks ads and trackers. It is claimed to be operated differently however, by utilizing an algorithm that will determine what it will or wont block.
Adblock- It's all in its name. Adblock, blocks trackers, malware, banners and pop ups. It can be configured to allow ads to not be blocked in order to support people who use them for revenue to support their site.
A Few Other Suggestions
On top of everything else, here's a few more things that will help you remain anonymous while being online. Use different search engines! Yeah, that means no more Googling or using Bing! They always track and use your info! Instead, use one like DuckDuckGo. They don't track you or your search results. Don't use your regular email accounts or use social media. Ok, so you may not quit social media. You can get disposable email accounts however, if you really need to use one. Some are, Guerilla Mail, throwawaymail, temp-mail, and mailinator. That is just to name a few. There several other disposable email services available. You can also use Private Browsing. All browsers, offer some version of this. Private browsing does not offer you anonymity! All it does do, is keep anyone on the computer you are using, from being able to see your online activity. It also prevents websites from using cookies stored on that device from tracking your online behavior as well. Keep in mind, this helps in keeping your online history private, but not you. There are ways to have total surfing privacy, which I've explained and listed above. Have a tip you'd like to share or have I forgotten something? Feel free to comment below.