As soon as you go online, your security is automatically threatened. Your operating system, all programs on your computer (especially web browsers), your Internet provider, and each website you visit, all gather information about you and your every action. In today’s world, it’s very difficult to maintain the right to privacy. Did you give to someone the right to keep an eye on you? You need to become anonymous online!
Many people say that they have nothing to hide, and that all these measures are needed for our security, but the truth is that large corporations and the government want to have as much information about you to track you. Those who know your habits and preferences can show you advertisements based on this information. They collect data about you in order to manipulate you and force you to spend your money. Bad guys are invading your privacy to make money on you. However, if you deprive them of this information, you will deprive them of a profit. This is an information war, bro! Don’t let them capture your information!
Here are 15 tips to increase your privacy and anonymity online.
1. Configure your OS
First, we’ll talk about Windows. If you have Windows, especially Windows 10, then you are in danger!
The W10 is a beautiful and convenient Trojan horse that sends all your information to the systems about your actions. If you agree to use this bug, you must change your privacy settings that are installed by default. Use programs such as “Destroy Windows 10 Spying”, “DoNotSpy10“, and so on, or you will need to change your privacy settings manually.
Also, you should not use a Microsoft account to sign in to your Windows account.
2. Use Firewall
Firewall allows you to restrict applications and software from connecting to the Internet without your permission. Windows has a built-in firewall, but as you probably know, the system is not interested in blocking itself. Therefore, it is better to use a third-party firewall, such as Comodo, Outpost, ZoneAlarm, or a built-in anti-virus firewall such as Bitdefender, Avast, or Norton. However, when you use anti-virus software you may come across some problems. Anti-virus and firewall can protect you from external enemies, but because they are tracking you, they may disclose information about you to third parties. You should choose the antivirus or firewall that you trust. For example, if you do not trust the U.S. anti-virus systems, select the European anti-virus systems, and vice versa. If you are skeptical of such, then you should use a separate computer for Internet access, which doesn’t have your personal information and extra software (such as antivirus, Microsoft office, and so on).
3. Use portable browsers
A web browser is a very important thing. It allows you to surf the internet, as well as being able to give and receive large amounts of information. To preserve your privacy you should use a portable version of the browser. The main advantage of a portable version is that it leaves no trace output to the Internet on your computer. For maximum privacy, you can install a portable version browser on a USB flash drive. In any case, it is better to have several browsers, such as one which you use for logins and passwords for social networking sites, and another that you use to search for information. The less you use the browser in which you are logged in, which includes cookies, the less you are available for surveillance. You can download the portable version of the browsers and other useful programs from PortableApps.com.
4. Use the Incognito mode in the browser
The incognito mode doesn’t save cookies, and the browser does not store your search history, so by using this, you deprive advertising networks the ability to follow you and show you targeted advertising. However, if you download files or save bookmarks, this information will not be removed. Your actions will be visible to the system administrator (if you use your work computer) and your internet service provider. Be aware that all the websites you visit will see information about you, such as your IP address, your location, the name of your ISP, your browser type, and operating system. Therefore, incognito mode is not enough to ensure complete privacy.
5. Configure your browser
Web browsers offer us a lot of conveniences such as video, animation, and notifications. Plug-ins and add-ons that are built into the browser allows us to use them. However, if you want to safeguard your privacy, you should disable the Abode Flash, Shockwave Flash, and Java Script. For example, if you have Google Chrome, then type in the address bar chrome: // plugins / and disable those plug-ins that you do not need. You should be aware though that after disabling the plug-ins, some sites might not display correctly, but this is the price to secure your privacy, and it’s worth it.
6. Change the language of your browser and your computer’s system time
Many sites that you visit automatically detect the language of your browser and system time on your computer. You can change the language of your browser and time in the system settings. You should do this in areas where your privacy is extremely important to you. In Google Chrome, this can be done by opening “Settings,” then “Show advanced settings”, then open “Languages” and set the desired language of the browser. To change the system time in Windows, you need to click the mouse in the lower right corner, clicking on the time.
7. Use advertising blockers in web browsers
There’s nothing wrong with advertising, in fact, many sites exist purely from advertising revenue, but targeted advertising without your consent is wrong. Websites allow ad networks to show you banners and targeted advertising based on the information that they collect about you every day. Advertisements in large quantities can slow the loading of web pages and consume your internet traffic. Ad blockers such as AdBlock or uBlock Origin can help protect you from intrusive advertising. Remember, you can always turn off the display advertising ban on any site, if you need this.
There are also special extensions that allow you to disable ad networks that track you, by means of special counters and cookie files that are downloaded into your computer from popular sites. You can try “Ghostery”, “Disconnect” or “Adguard” (it also blocks ads). These browser extensions are free. However, while it helps defend you against intrusive surveillance, they will sell any information collected to third parties, and in return, receive an income from this. Before using them, you should read their privacy policies. These extensions would be best to use in a browser, where you already have an account in social networks and on various websites. When you use the browser incognito mode, this extension is not necessary, because all the cookie files that are watching you will be deleted after you exit the browser.
8. Use Firefox or Opera for private Web Surfing
Firefox and Opera are created by independent developers, unlike Google Chrome or the Yandex Browser. Many people think that the Internet Explorer browser is inconvenient and that the Сortana browser spying on users as actively as Windows 10 is. The Chinese Maxton browser ruined its own privacy reputation because it often spied upon its users. Currently, FireFox is the only browser that allows you to activate the anti-tracking feature. To enable this, open the Mozilla Firefox configuration page by clicking on an internal address about:config. We agree to be cautious and search in the list of parameters privacy.trackingprotection.enabled line (to quickly find the best option use the search bar). The default value for this parameter is set to false. Click on it with the mouse twice and switches to true. Browser Opera users are pleased that it has a built-in VPN (encryption of all traffic) that allows you to be sure that nobody will be able to see and decipher the information that goes through your browser.
9. Use VPN extensions for browsers
VPN is virtual private network. It’s a service that encrypts your Internet traffic, and all the data used between your browser and websites are encrypted. VPN extensions give you the ability to hide your real IP address and your location. If a website is blocked in your country, then you will be able to circumvent the ban and open it. Extensions for browsers often have a free and paid plan. On the free plan, a limited number of free servers is offered, so you can choose the IP address and location of only a few countries. Still, some Free VPN offer lower speed, which may hinder your ability to watch videos. You must be careful with the VPN extensions that are completely free though, because they save logs and sell information to advertising companies about you. Before choosing a VPN extension you need to read their privacy policies. We recommend you use VPN extensions such as Zen Mate, Tunnel Bear, or Hotspot Shield. We don`t recommend using Hole, Browse, DotVPN, and Hoxx VPN Proxy (Setup VPN is also their service). If you want to protect yourself from phishing and malicious sites, then you should set anti-virus extensions such as Avira, Avast, Traffic Light (BitDefender), or others. Anti-virus browser-expansions protects your web surfing and will block web pages that contain viruses or malicious codes.
10. Use Secure DNS
Every time you visit a webpage, you are using a DNS (Domain Name System or Domain Name Service), but you probably don’t even know you are. The DNS server is a special service that converts the address of any website into a digital code, and helps your computer search websites on the Internet. Each ISP has its own DNS, but you are not obligated to use them. For your safety, it is best to change the DNS provider on an open and secure DNS. When you use this type of DNS, you get additional protection against viruses, phishing, and often higher Internet speed. Your Internet provider can block sites using their DNS servers, but when you use free DNS you can avoid it.
You can try the following alternate public DNS servers:
– Google Public DNS: 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168
– OpenDNS: 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199
– Comodo Secure DNS: 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206
– DNS.WATCH: 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168
– Verisign: 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199
Some VPN services, on a mandatory basis, use their own secure DNS. However, if you set up the DNS manually, all your traffic will go through the DNS, even when you disable the VPN service.
11. Disable WebRtc in browsers
WebRTC is read as Web Real Time Communication. WebRTC is an open communication standard, which transmits streaming data (audio and video) over a network in real time. This technology does not require downloading or installing other programs; all manipulations are made directly through the browser. However, WebRTC standard allows websites to determine your IP-address bypassing the anonymizers and VPN-extensions. It is known that the WebRTC default installed on browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, are potentially vulnerable as they negate all your efforts to anonymize your computer on the network. Therefore, we recommend that you disable this communication standard, if it exists in your browser. For Chrome and Opera you can use the «WebRTC Leak Prevent» extension. In Firefox settings, you need to find «media.peerconnection.enabled» and set to “False”. Excellent! You’re safe now!
12. Use a desktop VPN application
The main advantage of a desktop VPN is that all traffic from your computer goes through a secure and encrypted tunnel. All of your browsers and software have the same IP address that you can change in the settings of a desktop VPN. In this case, there is no need to enable VPN extensions to the browsers. If you do it, change your IP address twice, first by using the desktop VPN, and then by using the browser-based VPN. This is a great option if you’re suspicious of such things, but it can reduce the loading speed of web pages. Using any desktop VPN is very simple, just download it from the official site, install it on your computer, and try working with it. The many desktop VPNs allow you to anonymously download files from torrents! Use this option if you want to download something that’s banned in your country. The trial versions of VPNs often have restrictions. For example, the Steganos VPN gives you only 2 GB per month for free, while Cyberghost (in the free version) makes you wait for a free server for 2-3 minutes and does not allow downloading files with the torrents. F-Secure and Avast Secure Line have a limited demo period of 7-15 days. You should consider buying a VPN by some promo-action or try paying a discounted annual subscription for being able to daily use a desktop VPN without restrictions.
13. Use Tor for special occasions
Tor (The Onion Router) is a free and open-source software for implementing the second generation of the so-called onion routing. Its principle of operation is that Tor redirects your Internet traffic, which consists of randomly selected relay. These relay work by volunteers scattered around the world. All traffic that passes through the relay belonging to Tor is encrypted multiple times before reaching the end node (the last computer in the Tor network). Upon reaching the end node (which the last encryption layer stands for), the data is sent to the recipient. It is unknown exactly who sent them. Tor is very popular among groups of fighters for civil liberties, such as dissidents, insiders, and human rights defenders who are able to surf the Internet with it, freely express their views, and communicate with journalists. One drawback of Tor is the low speed Internet connection because the data is forwarded through a plurality of relays. Some Internet service providers actively seek out and block Tor relays, making it difficult for some users to connect to Tor.
14. Try Linux Tail from USB
Linux Tail is a “live” operating system which you can use on any computer with a USB flash drive or SD-card. Linux Tail is aimed at preserving your privacy and anonymity, and helps you:
- Use the Internet anonymously and avoid censorship;
- Require all Internet connections to go through Tor;
- It doesn’t leave any traces on the computer that you used;
By using Linux, you can remain absolutely anonymous and have the ability to go to any blocked sites. After turning off the computer there are no traces of your activity. Linux doesn’t use a swap file, and keeps all the information in RAM (which is deleted once the computer is shut down).
15. Be on the alert and remember that 100% of anonymity does not exist
All the above methods are very helpful to maintain your privacy on the Internet, you can use some of them or all, it depends on your goals. Remember though, that complete confidentiality is almost non-existent. You should be prepared to ensure that you can declassify at any time, which allows you to be more cautious and reasonable. Before you do something, it might be worth assessing the possible risks several times. Of course, one of the main risks is your Internet service provider, so it is best to use your home internet-network for legal actions. If you are a law-abiding citizen, and just don’t want anyone else to know what information you are looking for online and what websites you search for, then you need to properly configure your operating system, firewall, browsers, VPN service, or Tor, which will allow you to enjoy the anonymity of network. In addition, don’t store sensitive data on your hard drive. It is better to re-write them on an external drive, hide in a box, and then bury it under a tree in your garden, but make sure nobody has seen you.