More and more people are becoming aware of how they are tracked and that their online data is constantly at risk. Cybersecurity experts will tell you that you should browse anonymously, and they have every right to do so! These experts say these kinds of things based on their past experiences on what can happen if we do not care about our privacy and security.
Why Be Anonymous?
Let’s paint a picture. You don’t want to be pasted with ads while you are profiled online, do you? Do you want Big Tech companies to have access to all of your data including not just your name and addresses, but your location, too? Worse yet, none of us want our identity stolen or our accounts hacked, right? Yes, this is what not being anonymous can lead to in many cases! The digital world can be heavenly or it can be a block of dominos waiting to topple. It’s up to how you handle your cyber hygiene!
For this reason, you want to practice good internet best practices which we’ll cover at the end of this article.
First off, it is important to note that the privacy of your online actions may not be as secure as you think. No, the internet nor the companies that run it do not have your ‘back.’ At the end of the day, you are just a number to them that can potentially make them some money.
So, various parties track you on the internet. Information about you and your online actions is accessible to Internet service providers (ISPs), network administrators, browsers, search engines, apps, social media platforms, hackers, and law enforcement officials.
Unfortunately, using incognito (the private browsing mode you may have used before) mode alone won’t keep your browsing history private or ensure your privacy. Despite claims to the contrary, many browsers save cookies and search history while in incognito mode. Worse yet, your browser spews information about your software, hardware, and other identifying factors all over the internet if not adjusted properly. For instance, for tracking users even while they are browsing in private mode, Google has been sued. Have you heard of the Cambridge Analytica scandal? Enough said.
As such, due to intrusive data collection by default as well as tracking, browsing the internet privately is almost impossible. However, you have a right to privacy, as defined by the UN Charter!
Using the advice and tips below should reduce unauthorized data collection and surveillance in general. Remember that you don’t have to take every piece of advice. As an alternative, consider how much anonymity you want and choose your tools accordingly. At the very least, use a VPN when accessing the internet, particularly when visiting sites that can get you into trouble or when paying for things online!
Without further ado, let’s get started by explaining what anonymous browsing entails and then the best tips for you to become a professional anonymous browser from today onwards!
Tips for Anonymous Browsing
To truly browse the internet while leaving minimal digital footprints (or handprints, either work) you need to think about several things. First is the VPN, or virtual private network, followed by ditching your mainstream browsers for one that is custom-built for privacy and anonymity (and security). Next, you want to add some good extensions that will further block out prying eyes (and ears), find good anonymous alternatives for the apps that you use, as well as secure your devices’ privacy and social media accounts private. Sound like a lot? Well, it is! But, you only have to do it once and you’re good to go! Once you do the following, most, if not all, of your digital trail will be eradicated. The sands of anonymity will blow over and cover your tracks, so to speak.
First off, the VPN. VPN software encrypts your entire internet browsing and internet traffic coming to and leaving your devices (a VPN browser is even better). Use a premium-grade app like one from NordVPN to reap the benefits. Next, ditch your browser unless you are using something like Brave, Firefox Nightly, or the much more hardcore Tor (although this is not recommended for casual internet users). Going down the list, you will need a good anonymity browser extension like uBlock Origin that can disable some of the information that leaves our browsers such as WebRTC and WebGL. Finally, you want to use secure communication apps like Protonmail, Signal, Telegram, and the like. It would also be a great idea to stop using Google products completely, as they do not hide the fact that they log and track you at every opportunity! This means you should not only ditch the mail service but ditch Google search for a better alternative like DuckDuckGo. Finally, you must secure your devices and social media account’s privacy and security settings which means going through them and enabling critical features like multi-factor authentication, and removing or blocking any unknown or suspicious people from your accounts completely.
Finally, as mentioned at the top, we’ll need to discuss your overall cyber hygiene. What does this mean? Well, most of us have lax basic cybersecurity and privacy practices. This translates to; using weak passwords, sharing credentials online or oversharing your personal life on social media, not using layered authentication, not backing up important data, interacting with phishing emails and sites, as well as not using anti-malware or antivirus software to protect your devices.
Once you have ticked off all or most of the criteria above, your online anonymity has been massively improved. These days, the internet is full of cybercriminals, scammers, and data collection agencies. All of these are either looking to; compromise or misuse your data and your identity, or make money off of you. You don’t want either of these to happen, because, naturally, you want a trouble-free and fair internet experience. Follow the tips above and you will get that piece of mind!