If you want to learn more of the reasons why you should strive to stay anonymous on the Web, read the following section.
In case you’re only interested in the solutions for how to stay incognito, skip to the section titled: Solutions To Stay Anonymous.
A Small Fish
One of the biggest concerns regarding our daily Internet browsing is whether our privacy is being violated or not.
Allegedly, innocent browsing through the web is (and should be) harmless. However, as the latest scandals taught us, you can never be 100% sure of whom might be in fact monitoring your data and for what purpose either.
Of course you might be thinking: “I’m just a ‘small fish in a large ocean’ they only target large organizations, companies and governments”! Although that may be true to some extent, it’s still far off from depicting the entire picture.
As a matter of fact, the opposite is also commonly true as well, that is, large organizations, companies and governments may often be the ones spying on you.
For instance, have you ever noticed that upon visiting some web page, the next page you visit will often contain closely related contents akin to the previous page topic?
It can be part of a website’s own content such as suggested reading or watching, but also 3rd party targeted ads or search suggestions, etc…
The process through which they get all this information about you is commonly referred to as “data mining” – for they [metaphorically] “mine” data about you.
This kind of information manipulation may be beneficial or annoying – depends on your opinion and perceptions. Nonetheless, in other cases the information being mined may be your credit card details, phone number (ever received spammy phone calls?) or other type of datum you consider dear and non-shareable.
Solutions To Stay Anonymous
In order to cope with the increasing phenomenon of privacy violation, here are a couple of methods that will help make your browsing safer and sometimes even more efficient.
Proxy will allow you to mask your IP so that any traffic you generate on the Web will appear to come from the proxy server’s IP rather than your computer.
By masking your IP you’ll not only achieve anonymity on the Web but it may also assist you in bypassing Geo-blocking which sometimes prevents you from viewing certain websites contents.
Also, it may help you get around time limit restrictions based on IP such as when websites limit you for one download in X hours, simply by switching your IP.
Set Up A Proxy
There are plenty of free proxys available at everyone’s disposal, just google free proxy list and you’ll find mounds upon mounds of them.
Modern browsers streamline the use of proxys by doing all the hard work behind the scenes, all you need to do is just enter the address. Here’s how it’s done in Firefox:
Open the menu and click Preferences > select Advanced from the left sidebar > go into Network tab then click Settings… found under the Connection header.
In the new opened window choose Manual proxy configuration: and enter the address according to the type of proxy found – HTTP or SOCKS are probably the ones you need.
Note that setting up a proxy this way will only make your Firefox browsing masked behind the proxy, other software – torrent clients, mail, etc.. will require you to set-up system-wide proxy in order for them to be included as well.
However there’s one cavity that proxys understandably fail to clog – security.
Although proxys practically mask your IP they normally don’t encrypt your data which goes through them, hence you’re still left prone to data mining, only the miner may have trouble linking the data with you. Thus, a more complete solution would be to use a VPN.
Just like a proxy, VPN (Virtual Private Network) will also provide you with a masked IP and enable you to bypass all sorts of IP based blocks – Geo-blocking, time limits, etc…
However the advantage of VPNs lies mostly in the fact they’ll also encrypt your data in addition to masking your IP, making you almost a ghost on the Internet.
VPNs will hide your data even from your ISP / government which will only be able to see that you’ve connected to a VPN yet the rest of your online activity will remain protected behind strong encryption.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that due to real time encryption your speed may be impacted in return for your enhanced security. Also, take into consideration that increased security can have a price, your Internet-bodyguard can cost a few dollars a month but may prove to be well worth it.
A VPN I personally used is called IPVanish which offers over 40,000 IPs on 400+ servers in more than 60 countries.
The large selection also saves you the trouble of looking for a new IP address in case you want to switch IP.
Whether you choose to go with a Proxy, a VPN or anything else is up to you, the important thing as far as this article goes is that you’ll be aware and stay safe :)