It has become increasingly difficult to remain anonymous while online as companies collect cookies and track your actions to target advertisements and make a profit from your data. Even with these challenges, it is still possible to remain anonymous while you browse the web and perform tasks online.
Use Private Browsing
The first and simplest step to staying anonymous online is to always opt for private browsing. This will eliminate or at least dramatically reduce the collection of cookies, which is one of the biggest concerns related to online anonymity.
Choose a Private Search Engine
While Google delivers great search results, it and the other main browsers also track your information. As you search, Google, Bing, and Yahoo all collect information to personalize services and customize ads. When you search and are logged into your account, the search engines collect even more information, such as your birthday, email address, phone number, device information, device location, cookie data, and IP address.
Avoid these problems by switching to a private search engine, such as DuckDuckGo. Just remember that the additional anonymity from private search engines does come with a lack of customization, even in terms of location.
Use Anonymous Communication
When you send an email, there is a unique challenge in terms of anonymity — emails are designed to show your email address, which is not necessarily anonymous. You can get around this by sending an email via an alias, which is like a forwarding address. Or you can use a disposable email service or just create an additional email address that you will use for a while to hide your identity.
Mask Your IP Address
Your next step should be working to hide your IP address as you browse online since this is the simplest method of tracing your activity back to you. With your IP address, it is possible to determine where you are located via server information. There are several main options for masking your IP address, starting with Tor, The Onion Router. This is a network featuring virtual tunnels that act like numerous proxies with periodic randomization.
Alternatively, you can just use a proxy server, which will route your connection via an alternative server that makes it harder to track down your IP address. Or you can opt for a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN is basically a private network that uses public networks to connect remote users or sites.
Make a Firewall
You should not connect your devices directly to your modem if you want anonymity online. This is because hackers regularly bombard IP addresses to try to access a system. Instead, make sure your home network has a router that can mitigate this via a built-in firewall. This may be possible with the modem your ISP provides you, but you may have to replace it. You can also install firewall software on your computer for similar effects.
Be Careful with Smartphones
Unfortunately, while they are convenient, smartphones are very bad when it comes to anonymity online. If you really want anonymity online, you should never use a smartphone to connect to the internet since the device’s software will likely track your movements and actions. There are some ways to get around this, such as via various applications that deliver temporary and anonymous numbers.