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21 tips, tricks and shortcuts to help you stay anonymous online Technology


If you use a popular webmail service, such as Gmail or Yahoo Mail, and you switch to a more secure service, consider installing Mailvelope. Mailvelope is a browser extension for Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox that brings OpenPGP encryption to your webmail service. Similar extensions exist, such as SecureGmail, which encrypts and decodes emails that you send via Gmail. The use of this extension means that the non-coded text must never reach the Google servers. Recipients must install the extension to decrypt and read the encrypted e-mail. Incognito. ”

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This is perhaps one of the most basic privacy options that just about anyone can benefit from. The four most popular browsers – Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Safari – have a private browser mode, which you can find in their respective settings menu & # 39; s. If private browsing is activated, your browser does not store cookies or internet history on your computer. This has very limited use and may really only be effective in hiding your browsing history from your significant other siblings or parents. Private browsing does not hide your identity or browsing activities securely outside of your local machine because your IP address can still be tracked.


Photo: Kimihiro Hoshino / AFP / Getty Images


The amount of personal information that social networking sites such as Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter have collected from their billions of users is shocking. Go to facebook.com/settings and click on "Download a copy of your Facebook data" and it may surprise you how much information is stored. Everything from whom you have poked, which events you have or have not attended and when and where you are logged into your account will be recorded and stored. Comparable levels of data collection take place on all major social media sites. This is the price you pay for using a & # 39; free & # 39; service. The only sure way to prevent you from providing this information is to completely delete your accounts. A warning, deactivating & # 39; & # 39; of your account is not the same as deleting. Deactivating your account is a kind of putting into sleep – all your information is saved and can be reactivated if in doubt. Always delete an account instead of deactivating an account if you want to delete it completely.

  ghostery logo


A large number of websites follow and collect the surfing behavior of the users who visit them. These trackers are invisible and most people do not know that they are being followed. Ghostery is a free browser extension – available on all major web browsers – that reveals these trackers, also known as web bugs. You can then decide which web bugs you can comfortably follow and which you want to block. In total, Ghostery maintains more than 1,900 companies. Each company has a profile in the Ghostery Knowledge Library, so you can better understand who and why someone is watching you and what action you want to take.



Most known and popular e-mail services – Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook – are not particularly privacy-friendly. Consider signing up for a more secure provider for complete emails encoded with Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). Hushmail is currently very popular, offering a private email account with no ads, built-in encryption and unlimited email aliases. A limited free service is offered, with more features available for a monthly subscription. However, Hushmail is not above the law and in the past it was forced to disclose user data to the US authorities following a court order. The company also registers user IP addresses. MyKolab is a similar service that has not revealed user information in the past, but they are also required to provide access to legal interception requests, so this remains a possibility.



Disposable e-mail addresses (DEA & # 39; s) are anonymous and temporary. This allows users to quickly create new email addresses when they are needed, which can be deleted after use. This is particularly useful to prevent spam when filling in forms on websites that require an e-mail address. Keeping your real email address away from spammers is crucial to protecting your identity online and DEA's are a great solution. Popular providers of this service are Guerrilla Mail and Mailinator, although there are hundreds to choose from. Most DEAs are not particularly secure, so it is not recommended to use these services to send sensitive information – rather use them as a way to prevent you from giving away your own information in situations where you are required to do so .

7. VPN

Virtual Private Networks (VPN & # 39; s) are one of the most effective ways to protect your privacy online. A VPN essentially hides your IP address – your unique online identification – and outputs all your online data through a secure and encrypted virtual tunnel, preventing websites from tracking your online activities or even knowing which country you're browsing from. Nowadays there are many VPNs to choose from. Hotspot Shield, TorGuard, CyberGhost and HideMyAss are some of the more popular ones currently available. Most require a small monthly subscription fee and they do not all offer the same list of features, so it is worth looking around for a VPN that suits you. Tor Browser. ” src=”https://i.guim.co.uk/img/static/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2015/3/5/1425567368134/51248b02-0c7c-4a07-a78a-8d789aa34828-1020×612.jpeg?width=300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=043b98c52d152322d7445950e150d45d”/>

8. TOR

Originally developed with the US Navy in mind as a way to protect government communication, Tor is a network of "virtual tunnels that allow people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet." Tor & # 39; s anonymity network provides access to the & # 39; deep & # 39; or & # 39; hidden & # 39; web, where websites can be made anonymous and individuals can communicate with each other privately. When using the Tor browser – which can be downloaded for free from torproject.org – it is very difficult for websites or individuals to track your online activity and location. Although Tor is quite effective in protecting your online anonymity, it can be slow, complicated and restrictive. It is also worth noting that, although the network can and has been used well, it has also been used for illegal purposes, such as selling drugs and distributing images of child abuse.


A proxy server is a computer that can process your online activity, essentially as an intermediary between your computer and the internet. As such, this can be a great way to maintain your online anonymity, since the proxy actually masks your IP address with its own. If the proxy is in a country other than yours, you can fool websites and trackers by thinking that you are surfing on a completely different continent. There are many ways to use proxy & # 39; s and there are several free and paid services that are offered. HideMyAss.com/proxy has a limited free webproxy service that you can use immediately if you want to try it.

  HTTPS Everywhere.


Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the encrypted version of HTTP, the technology protocol that determines how web servers and browsers respond to commands and how messages are sent and received. The HTTPS Everywhere from the Electronic Frontier Foundation is a handy little extension – available on Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera – that forces websites to use HTTPS, even when they opt for less secure and unencrypted HTTP by default. According to EFF, it is still possible for "some attackers to break HTTPS", but it is certainly not a bad idea to install their extension, because HTTPS is still much more secure than HTTP and will certainly help protect your privacy and therefore maintain your anonymity. EFF is a non-profit organization that wants to defend civil liberties in the digital world.



Cookies are small pieces of code that are automatically downloaded from a website and stored on your system. Cookies allow websites to quickly and easily remember if you have been there before – if you have done so, the website may then change certain variables based on the information stored in the cookie to give you a more personalized and potentially useful experience to give . However, some cookies can be very intrusive, such as information about how long you visit a certain website, how many clicks you have made and which content you prefer to read. It does not hurt to occasionally delete your system from all cookies. Admittedly, this won't do a huge amount to protect your anonymity, but it will make it harder for websites to learn and understand your viewing habits. You can delete cookies from your browser, but to make sure you destroy everything, you can use an app like CCleaner, which is free and powerful.


Like most people, you probably use Google to search for things online. Google is an unmistakably accurate, fast and efficient search engine, but this is largely helped by its personalized search system. This is a feature that uses your previous search history, rather than relying solely on the terms you typed in the search bar, to present results that are more relevant to your personal taste. To do this, Google tracks your search behavior in a number of ways, including browser cookies. You can disable this personalized search by clicking Search Tools> All Results> Verbatim. But if you really want to make sure that Google doesn't track your searches, consider using another search engine, such as DuckDuckGo, which promises never to follow your searches and "emphasizes protecting the privacy of searchers and avoiding of a filter balloon of personalized search results. "


Although Google Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer are popular, they are not as safe as they can be. If you want a more guarded browsing experience with a more serious approach to safe web browsing, you might consider trying out a privacy-oriented browser such as Dooble, Comodo Dragon or SRWare Iron, but keep in mind that the additional security methods are quite limited and will do little to reduce your overall anonymity protect themselves, but this must be used in combination with other measures, and you can probably use a relatively safe one get service by disabling third-party cookies and blocking all location data in your normal browser settings and installing various extensions and plug-ins for privacy and anonymity, such as Ghostery or Mailvelope.


Edward Snowden has called Dropbox – a cloud storage service – "hostile to privacy." That's pretty damned. If you are concerned about sharing your files through this system, there are a number of good alternatives that offer better privacy. Snowden itself recommends Spideroak, which describes itself as a zero knowledge encrypted data backup, sharing, synchronization, access and storage service. You can use a limited version of this as part of their free trial period, which can be found on their website. A fully equipped plan is available for $ 12 a month. However, if you just want to quickly share small or large files anonymously for free, try OnionShare. It does not have as many functions as Spideroak, but it works.


Staying anonymous while using a smartphone can be tricky. Many apps want standard access to all sorts of settings on your device that you may not know and that you must manage manually with each new app installation and update. In addition, a connection to public networks while on the move is also a great way to expose your data to nefarious snoopers. Although both Apple & # 39; s iOS 8 and Android & # 39; s Lollipop now have good coding measures as standard, there is an even more extreme option in the form of The Blackphone. This is an "NSA-proof" smartphone that claims to offer privacy functions for texts, e-mails, internet and telephone calls. The reviews are so far predominantly positive, but around £ 400 they are not cheap.



If you have a password that can be easily guessed, cracked or stolen because you have a poor memory for such things, you can say goodbye to your anonymity. This is especially true if you use the same password for everything or on multiple websites and / or services. A great way to improve your password protection is to use a password manager, such as LastPass. LastPass saves all your passwords and requires you to remember only one master password, which means that several different passwords have a lot less headache to manage, which in turn improves your online security and protects your anonymity.


There are security-focused e-mail service providers, security-focused smartphones, and security-focused web browsers, but have you considered using a security-focused operating system? Whonix is ​​exactly that – an open source operating system that focuses on anonymity, privacy and security. Based on the Tor network, Whonix is ​​about as anonymous as an operating system can get before it becomes too difficult for normal use. Whonix consists of two parts, "one running Tor only and acting as a gateway … The other … is on a completely isolated network. Only connections via Tor are possible. ”You can download it for free from whonix.org.



Darkcoin is an open source digital cryptographic currency based on the Bitcoin software code. It is intended as a more private version of Bitcoin (which is generally proud of its transparency) and claims to be the first anonymous cryptocurrency in the world. Finding sellers who accept Darkcoin can be difficult (Darkcoin has its own seller's guide which you can view here http://tinyurl.com/qzo398u) but if you do, your financial transactions are well hidden and, in theory, completely anonymous. [19659050] VirtualBox. "src =" https://i.guim.co.uk/img/static/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2015/3/5/1425572583710/0ed3a831-04c0-429a-b5e1-05bfc786d1f0-484×540. jpeg? width = 300 & quality = 85 & auto = format & fit = max & s = eaf14ad9303bb568286d0559dfeaa5a2 "/>


Using a virtual machine is a great way to work on sensitive files (or to open doubtful files) without the fear of snooping online or potentially infecting your main system A virtual machine is essentially a second "virtual" computer that you host as an application within your main operating system – suppose you want to download a JPG from an e-mail attachment, but that you worries that it is infected with a keylogger or other form of virus that could jeopardize your anonymity.Firstly, if you suspect that this is the case, you should not download it at all, but a method to file it safer to investigate if you absolutely must is to virtualisati software, such as VirtualBox, to install a virtual machine on your system. It is best to use a safe operating system for this, so something based on Linux is not a bad idea. You can then download the file on the virtual machine before turning off the internet on your virtual machine and opening the JPG. When you are done with the file, you can delete it together with your virtual system, without leaving traces and no potential security issues.


JavaScript is used everywhere on the internet and can provide detailed information about your system to every website that uses it. This is almost always used completely harmlessly and is often used to improve your browsing experience or to lead more personalized and relevant advertisements the way you want. However, some of this personal or system information can and has been leaked in the past. Completely disabling JavaScript is not really a viable solution because many websites require you to accept JavaScript in order to be displayed correctly. However, you can install an extension in your browser that allows you to blacklist or whitelist JavaScript activity, giving you more control over how and where your information is used. NoScript and ScriptSafe are both popular choices and very easy to use.


Ultimately, the only way to stay truly anonymous online is, in the first place, never go online. If you have already used the Internet, delete all the accounts you have ever created, turn off your computer and throw it to pieces. You will still leave some kind of digital footprint, but hopefully it is not particularly important. If you use this extreme method, you must also destroy your smartphone, tablet and smart TV (they are listening to us now). Now that you have removed all connected technology from your life, you may want to live in self-imposed exile, perhaps in a cave, so that you will not be tempted to re-enter the online world. Do not tell anyone about this and you will have successfully obtained complete anonymity. Probably.

  Neolithic man installing a WiFi router.

Neolithic man installing a WiFi router. Image: Poodles Rock / Corbis Photo: Poodles Rock / Corbis

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