How to protect your privacy and stay anonymous online

 Bram Jansen
  Apr 13, 2018

The online world has been growing exponentially since its introduction to the masses, from a desolate space used only by a few thousand government officials and academics to one of the most widespread technologies in the world, used by billions and on which tens of billions of devices operate on.

At its inception the internet was seen as the new Wild West where no national jurisdiction reigns over, this gave the first internet users a sense of freedom that they could do whatever they wanted with no repercussions. This came as a result of anonymity that the internet offered at that time however now things have changed. The internet is no longer like the Wild West, it is rather controlled and organized, not only by National Governments, but also by International Organizations and large companies.

Lately, the issue of privacy has become more and more of an issue, in the past few years there have been several incidents of personal data leaks from companies, such as the Facebook case recently, and cases of cyber surveillance from governments, such as the case of the NSA. Besides surveillance, there are also cyber-attacks and crimes, which are not only aimed at large companies but also at small companies and even individuals. It is estimated the cyber-attacks cost the global economy over US$400 billion per year. Some common cybercrimes are: phishing; identity theft; hacking; hate speech; child pornography; grooming etc.

Seeing these trends, many individuals, organizations and national governments have been lobbying for stricter laws in order to provide users with some degree of online anonymity. The European Union is currently the leader in data protection, it has adopted a Regulation and Directives to tackle this issue, North America is also following with concrete steps, and Canada’s Supreme Court ruled that online anonymity is a right.

Seeing the importance of online anonymity and the real dangers that are lurking online, it is important that users are informed on how they can improve their internet surfing experience. With just a few simple methods you can improve your online presence drastically, to know more read this article by vpnAlert.

The best advice is to just be careful. When surfing the internet, it is important that you are aware of your online activity. If you want to sign up somewhere but would like to stay anonymous, do not use your real information, such as name, birthday, birthplace etc. instead use fake information, including your e-mail address. There are many e-mail providers that offer anonymous e-mails. If something seems fishy, then most likely it is fishy such as if an e-mail asks you to send them personal information. When you are in public spaces and want to connect to a public Wi-Fi make sure it is a legit one, there are many hackers who create hotspots and then steal your information.

Another important advice is to start using online tools that help you in staying anonymous online. The first one would be to start using search engines that do not save your search history, one good example for that is duckduckgo.com; besides the search engine you also want to hide your IP address especially if you are working on something more sensitive or want to bypass geographical blocked content etc. in this case you need to start using a VPN, there are free VPN’s online, and some top-notch ones for reasonable prices. The third recommended tool would TOR, TOR is a browser similar to Google Chrome, and however, it does not store any of your data and automatically hides your IP address. It is easy to download and use, the only downside to TOR is that it’s a little slow compared to some other browsers.

No doubt that online anonymity is important for numerous reasons, this is evident by the huge support it has gathered from people from all over the world in different positions, thus it’s important that users take their fair share of responsibility too in guarding their online presence. Ensuring 100% anonymity is difficult, if not impossible however, with the above mentioned methods and other similar ones, users can at least improve their anonymity and make it difficult enough, that most ‘trackers’ will not bother.

How to protect your privacy and stay anonymous online

Bram Jansen

Bram Jansen is an online privacy expert. He's been helping businesses secure their information online. He offers tips and advices to protect companies from common problems and to guarantee they are protecting their online and social media privacy. He's part of vpnAlert, a trusted advisor on VPNs and Internet Privacy. You can visit their Twitter page. When not working, Bram indulges in kayaking and mountain climbing.

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