How to be anonymous on the Internet
This document is created for users who are concerned about others monitoring their Internet browsing, or want to remain anonymous while they browse the web. Keep in mind that there are different degrees of anonymity and even following these steps do not guarantee 100% anonymity. If you're attempting to conceal your identity to do something illegal or inappropriate while on the Internet, this document is not for you.
Below is a list of different methods to help protect your identity while on the Internet.
For most users, following some basic rules can help with your anonymity on the Internet.
- Do not disclose any private information, unless absolutely required. In some cases, when it is required such as your last name, only fill in partial information such as your last initial.
- Don't fall into e-mail and web phishing traps. Become familiar with the signs of phishing and don't disclose private information in an e-mail.
- If you're using Microsoft Windows, familiarize yourself with spyware and have at least one program installed to protect the computer.
Public anonymous proxy
When browsing the Internet you're browsing from your computer or router assigned IP address, this IP address can be used to track your general location and can help identify your visit. To help keep your computer anonymous, you can use a web-based proxy to browse the web. A web-based proxy allows you to use an alternate computer to load a website and then display the results on your computer through the browser. Below is a short list of some of the available anonymous web-based proxies.
If you're in an area where you feel your connection may be compromised or sniffed (e.g., connecting to the Internet at a WI-FI hotspot). Using an HTTPS proxy is a great way to help encrypt data coming from the proxy to your computer that is not encrypted, helping to prevent any eavesdropping. If you're using a proxy web service such as Proxify, you can also use an HTTPS connection.
If you're using Mozilla Firefox as your browser and find yourself frequently needed a proxy, there are dozens of good proxy add-ons available.
The proxy you're using to browse the Internet may keep a log of visitors. If a legal authority wants to obtain identifying information to locate you, it may be possible. If you are entering sensitive data such as usernames, passwords, credit card information, the person in control of the proxy could capture and use that information.
Boot from Anonym.OS LiveCD
Anonym.OS is a LiveCD that allows a user to boot from a CD and use a variant of OpenBSD that is designed to help keep a user anonymous while browsing the Internet.
Tor was originally developed for the U.S. Navy with the purpose of protecting government communications. Tor works to help protect your privacy by using a network of virtual tunnels to pass information over the Internet.
Whonix is an operating system focused on anonymity, security, and privacy. It consists of two parts: One solely runs Tor and acts as a gateway, the other, is on a completely isolated network.
Alternate computer or connection
Finally, connecting to the Internet using someone else's connection, e.g., cafe, library, school, work, etc. can also keep you anonymous. When using someone else's connection, you're logging in as their IP address and not your personal address.
However, keep in mind that if you had to use a login to access the computer or network, that login could be traced back to you.
Private mode or Incognito mode
Most browsers today offer a private mode or incognito mode. While this mode will not keep you anonymous to anyone with authority that can request server or search logs it will keep what you do locally anonymous when active.
Other software products
There are also dozens of other non-free software products for users who find the above suggestions don't meet their needs. Below is a listing of a few of these services.
- How can I protect myself while online?
- How can I delete personal information about myself on the Internet?
- Can a web page get my e-mail address or other personal information?
- Anonymous alternatives to popular online services.
- How to find my IP address.
- How does a website or advertisement know where I am?
- How can I find people online?
- View website services tracking you while on a site.
- Internet help and support.