How to stay anonymous online: Ways to stay safe

The Internet is used by 9 out of 10 people. And 8 out of 9 believe that their online activities go unnoticed. And meanwhile, today it is virtually impossible. Providers know all the sites visited by their subscribers, and search engines remember requests, card data, documents and analyze the information you viewed. With all this “scrutiny,” how can you stay completely anonymous online while searching for information? There are several ways.

Anonymity in searches – how and why?

Why user data is so valuable – the answer is simple. Advertising is to blame. Advertising that meets a need works best. And the needs are calculated by queries in the browser. So, you’ve often noticed that you were looking for, for example, electric grill as a gift for a friend. Looked, closed and forgot. And the intrusive advertising of grills haunts you for a week after.

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Over the past 10 years, the Internet has become so “smart” that it stores not only Big Data or “data trail” from search queries, but all the information about any person who entered it there himself – a cell phone number, passport, bank card. Such information is a tidbit for fraudsters. And when you consider that information on the Web is sold and bought (the only question is the price), it gets really scary. So it makes sense to take care of protecting your data on a regular basis.

Who and what knows about us perfectly legitimately (and with our tacit consent):

  1. The provider sees and stores all of its customers’ network activity. Depending on the type of encryption, either just the site address or all of the subscriber’s activity on it is available to him. True, ISPs have thousands of clients and such volumes of information that one would hardly want to deliberately poke around in them. Neither technical nor human resources are sufficient for this.
  2. The law enforcement agencies make requests to the provider, and the provider is obliged to give them access to any information on the requested person.
  3. Today, the state is represented on the Internet in the form of a public services portal, and there we store the most valuable thing we have – our identity. The only good thing is that such services have the highest possible level of protection against leaks.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways in which, if not completely hide your online identity, then make it as blurry and inconspicuous as possible.

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Proxies and SOCKS

On a network, data usually goes directly from the server to the client. With this method of transmission security is low. SOCKS is an Internet protocol technology that uses an intermediate proxy in this step. SOCKS has its own IP address, making the user’s address invisible.

SOCKS helps you bypass sites blocked by Roskomnadzor and access resources where your normal IP address has fallen out of favor for some reason. One of the weakest ways to protect your data.

SSH tunnels

Another type of networking protocol that allows you to remotely control your OS and surf the network securely through port forwarding. Tunnels work as gateways on the information path from the server to the client. Upon entering these gateways, information is encrypted, then redirected through the tunnel to the gateway server and from there to the client. The tunnel provides a high degree of data protection. The disadvantage of this method is the need for manual configuration.

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Anonymizers

What are the users who don’t know anything about IT-administration, but don’t want strangers to know what they do in the network, should do? Use an anonymizer service. In fact, there are many of them. But the principle is the same for all of them.

Anonymizers change a user’s IP address to their own. This breaks the digital search trail. Anonymizers hide the user’s address, both when directly accessing the site, and while surfing on it. However, you can not trust anonymizers, they are sometimes built into the malicious software, which intercepts data from bank cards and passwords to social networks. If you do use anonymizers, be very careful with what you enter in the input box.

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Tor Browser

This is a non-profit project that was purposefully put together to give users safety and anonymity online. The security of the Tor Browser is above average. The principle is based on distributing your traffic over a network of three (sometimes more) repeaters or nodes. The IP address is changed to any of those provided by the volunteers who make Tor work.

How the anonymization process works:

  1. Input node. Now you can see your IP address, but you can’t see what you’re looking for.
  2. Middle Node. Now the Game itself changes, and now the IP is hidden, but the traffic and the input node are open.
  3. Exit Node. Your traffic leaves Tor and is redirected to another domain. Now only what you connect to is known.

Nodes change at intervals of up to 10 times a day.

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VPN

A VPN is a virtual private network that connects two or more nodes. Data transmission here is protected by encryption. And the nodes included in the network are strictly regulated.

VPN are special applications that are embedded in the browser and change the IP address of the device to the network address. The data in such a chain is encrypted with a key that only network members have. Even if the information is accidentally leaked, the fraudster will get a useless set of characters instead.

VPN can be of two types:

  1. Node-Node. It connects up to 5 computers, e.g. in the offices of the same company in distant cities.
  2. Remote Access. Used for private use on home PCs, as well as when working with public networks, such as in cafes.

VPN provides a high level of security, masks your location by IP, and allows you to bypass restrictions on network resources.

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Secure operating systems

Did you know that the world of PC operating systems is not limited to Windows, Linux and iOS. In fact, there are a dozen other little-known operating systems that handle personal information much more securely.

  1. Tails OS. The brainchild of the developers is designed to preserve anonymity without losing the comfort of a familiar operating system. The pluses are the protected network connection to Tor, the storage of passwords and the automatic metadata clearing. Minuses are problems with installing third-party software.
  2. The system is designed for anonymous and secure surfing. Works closely with VirtualBox and Tor tools. It consists of two virtual machines: Whonix-Gateway and Whonix-Workstation. They are connected in a remote isolated network. So, the first one works through Tor. And the second one is located in an isolated network with a single connection type. Tor hides traffic and processes. The disadvantage is that it only runs on good hardware and is not very fast.
  3. Linux Kodachi. Rich in built-in First, information passes through it, then through Tor with encryption. A DNScrypt-enabled utility is integrated. This destroys traces of your stay on the ISP’s servers. Today is the system with the highest degree of data protection.
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