How does one stay anonymous online? Not so long ago, the Internet was seen as the last bastion of privacy. People could surf the web and browse online content without worrying about their personal information being compromised. Taking any extra precautions to protect one’s anonymity was unnecessary, and nobody seemed to be worried about cybercrime.
Unfortunately, things have changed. Not only is the Internet unsafe, but it is also the place where most of our personal information is fully accessible to anyone who knows how to make use of it.
Big companies, such as Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and Google, are constantly trying to collect more data to understand our preferences and serve us with targeted ads. Furthermore, every time we make an online payment, we expose ourselves to potential cyberattacks which could cost us a lot of money. Finally, most governments around the world have their ways of tracking their citizens’ online behaviour, making Internet privacy a thing of the past.
Still, even though the only way to be completely anonymous on the Internet is to go offline, there are some ways in which you can significantly reduce your digital footprint. Let’s see how you can protect yourself more and achieve greater anonymity!
Here’s How You Can Stay Anonymous Online
1. Secure Your Browser
Your browser can tell a lot about you — what kind of websites you like to visit, how often you use particular online services, or what your favourite social media sites are. By storing your web history in its cache memory, the browser makes it more accessible to hackers who could potentially exploit it further. What’s perhaps even worse is that you may visit an unencrypted website (the one without HTTP in its URL) unknowingly, which could potentially expose your network and exploit your passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information.
Luckily, there are some ways to protect yourself from such inconveniences. One of the most basic kinds of precaution you can take is going incognito. By activating private browsing, you will be able to surf the web without worrying about your cookies being stored or your Internet history being recorded. All the popular browsers, such as Safari, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Internet Explorer, have an incognito mode as one of their settings so, if you are worried about online privacy, make sure to take this simple step to protect yourself.
However, to be honest, this mode is probably only useful when you want to hide your history from the people who might use your computer. Even though you are using private browsing, your IP address could still be tracked so, if you want to hide your identity completely, we suggest coming up with a different solution, such as a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
2. Make Anonymous Payments
Shopping online is quite convenient. Without leaving your home, you can find just about anything you need in one of the numerous Internet stores. Once you’ve chosen the item you like, you can become its owner by simply typing in your name, credit card number, and card security code.
However, by doing this, you might expose yourself to cybercriminals. Data breaches are not too uncommon and, seeing that your credit card contains some sensitive information, we suggest considering other methods of online payments that would allow you to stay anonymous.
You’ve probably heard of Bitcoin — a self-regulated cryptocurrency that allows you to make online purchases without exposing any information about yourself. This currency is very practical, as it is not tied to any government; therefore, you don’t have to worry about exchange rates — its value is the same, regardless of where you are.
You may be confused about how you can use this cryptocurrency, but worry not! With its popularity on the rise, you can find numerous crypto for dummies guides that will help you understand how to handle this relatively new payment method. All you need is an Internet connection and a crypto wallet app, and you are good to go!
It would be wrong of us not to mention other cryptocurrencies, as some people believe they could take over the throne. Ripple, Ethereum, and Litecoin have started gathering more followers who see them as an improvement on the basic Bitcoin technology. However, by the looks of the latest global crypto charts, the good old Bitcoin is not going anywhere, as it has remained the primary choice among cryptocurrencies users.
3. Ditch the Social Media
Over the years, popular social media websites have managed to harvest a shocking amount of their users’ data. After all, you are probably aware of all the information you have consciously shared with Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram over the years. Your interests, location, friends — all of them are in the file, ready to be used when necessary.
Still, these websites keep track of other kinds of information you may not be comfortable with sharing. Everything you’ve searched for, all the times you’ve logged into your account, the ads you’ve clicked on — it could all end up being exploited or sold to third parties.
If this makes you feel uncomfortable, you should consider deleting your accounts. Mind you, merely deactivating them won’t do anything — your data will remain stored, should you ever have second thoughts. That is why it’s necessary to wipe your account entirely if you want to avoid giving up any information you don’t want to share.
Watch this space for updates in the Hacks category on Running Wolf’s Rant.