The Ultimate Crib Sheet for Staying Anonymous Online

Hackers are at it again. Ashley Madison was recently hacked; 32 million profiles, containing emails and passwords, were leaked online. Anthem, a major health insurance company, was also hacked. Millions of customers who had health insurance through Anthem had their social security numbers leaked online.

With these recent developments, you start to imagine living completely off-the-grid. No one knows who you are, where you’re from, or what you do for a living.

Wouldn’t it be great to live like that for one day?

Let’s face it; we have to use the Internet to survive. Businesses, consumers, and the rest of society will fail if we didn’t have the Internet today. You have to find ways to prevent hackers and nosy neighbors from looking at your personal and business information.

With certain tools in your anonymous toolbox, you can live off-the-grid while still using the grid.

Keeping your data, emails, files, and important documents secure is your number one priority. It can be tricky to keep those files secure off-the-grid, but you need that information from the Internet, computers, and emails you gather.

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Below are some ideas for you to stay anonymous online:

Web Browsing

Browsing the Web is essential for everyone. How would we know how to cook the greatest pancake ever? A safe web browser is key to staying anonymous online.

Proxy server

You can still be tracked with your browser’s IP address. Hackers use your IP address to identify your location and how often you visit certain sites.

Proxy servers act as intermediaries. Proxy servers are computers that allow people to connect to other network resources (files, connections, webpages) indirectly. Most proxies mask the user’s IP address with their own. That way, if the proxy server is set in France, trackers and websites will think you’re using your computer in France, when you’re actually in Texas.

VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows people to access information on the public network through a private network. Like a firewall protects data on your computer, a VPN network protects data on the Internet.

You can also hide from the government using a VPN. Through a series of networks and nodes, you can disguise your web traffic. A VPN network changes your outgoing IP address. Like a proxy server, VPN’s make it seem like you’re in one location, but you’re really in another location.

Tor

The most common resource available for anonymous users is Tor. The Onion Router, or Tor for short, uses a vast network of computers to encrypted your browsing history. If you’re using Tor, you will follow a series of tunnels to retrieve information that you want. These tunnels don’t share your information with others; they keep your identity a secret from others. Instead of using Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, or other web browsers, you can use Tor to safely browse the web.

This software service and browser provides increased security for you while you browse the Internet. If you’re still confused about Tor, click here for an amazing answer involving grandmas sending letters to random people.

Don’t use Google

Google’s servers are everywhere. They’re not the best browsers to use when you want to stay anonymous. Google can track your location and data efficiently and effectively. This also means you should not use Gmail, Google Maps, or any other application created by Google. Instead, you can use the DuckDuckGo search engine. This search engine, according to their website, doesn’t invade your privacy.

Email Accounts

Even after protecting your web browser, hackers can retrieve your information from your emails. To stay anonymous, use these tips to protect your email account.

Use alias

Alias email accounts exist to forward emails. Think of it as an alternate you. You forward your email messages to this alias account, then that alias account transfers the data over to your recipient. Your recipient thinks they received the message from your alias, but they actually received the message from you.

Disposable email

Like a disposable prepaid phone, you can use a disposable email address. These disposable email addresses (DEA) create different email accounts for every sender and receiver relationship. For instance, you would have a different email account for your grandma, uncle, and untrusted websites.

Reply with BCC – Instead of a regular carbon copy (CC), reply and send emails using a blind carbon copy (BCC). This helps keep all recipients protected from hackers, trackers, and other nosy people.

Downloads

If you’ve ever downloaded music or movies from certain Internet sites, you might have used something called a peer-sharing system. In this system, your peers can see who shared what and when, creating a nightmare for those wishing to stay anonymous. How do you hide this information?

Proxy or VPN

You can simply use a proxy server or a VPN on websites. If you’re downloading from websites like MediaFire, a simple proxy or VPN will do the trick.

BitTorrent

If you’re using a BitTorrent, you will not only need a proxy and/or VPN, you also need a Seedbox. A seedbox is a private server used only for downloads. Because seedboxes operate separately from your Internet connection, your download speeds are faster and you can stay anonymous while you’re downloading.

Rapid Seedbox has many features besides providing security during downloads. We also have an OpenVPN tunnel for anonymous browsing as well as awesome automation tools. Check out our FAQ page or contact us if you have questions about seedboxes.

Blocking

This is America. You are free to allow or block anything coming into your IP address. To stay anonymous, you have to block as many cookies and data as you can.

Block 3rd party cookies

Cookies are those pieces of information computers use to “get to know you better.” Websites use cookies to track data from all users on the website. Marketers use this information to create personalized ads for you every time you browse the Internet.

In your web browser, turn tracking cookies off.

Block location data

Make sure you turn off your location on your smartphone, tablet, and computer. Even though location data is useful for GPS systems, government agencies and trackers can still see who you are and where you are.

Javascript blocking

Javascript is all over the Internet. This coding delivers detailed information to any Web server who asks for the information. Because Javascript is at the core of the Internet, it’s difficult to block Javascript.

Even though Javascript is difficult to block, there are way to block it completely. A browser extension like NoScript can do just that. This blocks Javascript from delivering your information to the Web servers.

Testing

A good test tells you where your security can tighten and where your security is rock solid. These websites test your web browser, domain name systems (DNS), and other factors to see if your computer, data, and files are protected. Also, through testing, you can see how anonymous you are.

There are three different websites for testing:

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Browser Extensions/Plug-ins

A good browser extension can keep you anonymous online. These add-ons are useful if you’re looking for cheaper options.

Ghostery

This browser extension blocks trackers from all over web in one place. Ghostery displays which tracking services are being used. This extension also enables and disables tracking.

Privacy Badger

Most extensions can monitor trackers on your website. Privacy Badger monitors those trackers automatically. With regular updates, Privacy Badger stays on top of the latest tracking devices and shuts them down for you.

HTTPS Everywhere

You can try HTTPS for every site you use. The “S” stands for “Secure,” and HTTPS encrypts and decrypts secure data on the website. These websites either use Secure Socket Layers (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) as a sublayer under the regular HTTP application layer. You can use HTTPS by downloading a SSL certificate for your website. This is great for businesses who run emails through their web browser.

The SSL certificate is the best bet for staying anonymous while browsing the Web. Since some websites don’t have the SSL certificate, the HTTPS Everywhere extension forces SSL on every website you encounter.

Disable WebRTC

Your web browser can leak network information to any web server that asks for the information. When WebRTC is enabled on your computer, your internal IP can be accessed by any given website. It can also reveal real IP addresses when you’re using a VPN.

To ensure this doesn’t happen, disable your WebRTC.

BetterPrivacy

Even after you’ve blocked third-party cookies, trackers can still track your information using Local Shared Objects (LSO). These LSO’s are also called “Flash cookies” because they cause a problem for users using Adobe Flash.

To avoid this situation, BetterPrivacy is an extension that eliminates LSO’s for you.

Plug-ins

Plug-ins are good for enhancing your website experience, but not for keeping your anonymity. Avoid running all plug-ins when trying to stay anonymous online. Others anonymous users are using a hybrid method, where they use safe plug-ins like Sandboxie. It’s an application you can use for your Windows computers. Sandboxie runs these programs in an isolated space. That way, programs can’t make permanent changes to other programs on your computer.

Miscellaneous Tips

Virtual machines

Once downloaded from the internet, PDF files can still be tracked on your computer. If you have suspect files you’re about to see, try using a virtual machine. A virtual machine, or VM, is an operating system (OS) downloaded onto software, and they act like hardware. The best way to view files on a VM is to take a snapshot of the file in the VM. After taking the snapshot, you can disconnect from the Internet and still work on the file safely.

Phone call

If you truly want to be anonymous, don’t use a smartphone. You can act like a spy and buy a prepaid phone. These disposable phones work great for anyone wishing to stay anonymous.

Use different passwords

Changing your password regularly is one of the simplest ways to stay anonymous online. Change your password at least once a month, if not more. Use a different password for each site you need to use.

Also, don’t let web browsers save your password. Either write all your passwords down in a secure location, or memorize each one.

Don’t click on spam

No, you are not a winner. The flashing pop-up ad might tell you to click and you will receive your prize. Don’t click on the pop-up ad. Let it go.

Some spam mail are annoying, while others attach viruses to their messages. Be sure you’re not replying to the spammer.

Firewall

A good, cheap defense system is a firewall. They can be found in either software or hardware. These firewalls block unauthorized access to your personal computer. Firewalls still allow you to send emails, messages, and perform searches on the Internet.

Some of the best software on the market is Norton Anti-Virus System. Kaspersky is another great firewall software company. Both systems prevent viruses well and ensure safe web browsing. Most software plans also have spyware protection.

If you’re looking for something harder than software, there is some hardware firewall that can protect you even more. Hardware firewalls protect all computers on your network; software firewalls only protect the computer they were downloaded on. For as low as $50 in some pawn shops, you can protect yourself from hackers through hardware firewall.

Do the Best You Can

Even the NSA can be hacked. No one is 100% completely anonymous, but you can take the necessary steps to ensure your information is secure. Keep changing passwords once every few weeks. Delete cookies, block as much as you can, and test your activity regularly.

The best way to say anonymous is to use as many of these tips as possible. The more methods you employ, the harder it will be for trackers and hackers to find you.