Anonymity Online: How to Stop Being Afraid of Surveillance?
Anonymous internet? The internet is no longer anonymous. Everyone is watching you — your mobile operator, internet service provider, search engine, visited sites, and on and on. Everyone collects information about users.
In today’s reality, We Should All Be Concerned About Surveillance Online. Know how to ensure your online privacy.
Have you ever noticed that, for example, when you go to the site of an online store and look at some product, then in search engines and on other sites, ads for that product start appearing in ad blocks? Is it magic?
Obviously, no. It’s just Google collecting information about users: it “sees” that you were interested in a product, and then that product is shown to you in ad blocks on different sites.
Google Data Tracking. Read how the popular media giant tracks its clients within the network.
Therefore, many users of the World Wide Web think about how to hide their data. Anonymity online is an attempt to ensure confidentiality, protect personal information, and reduce control over your personal life.
For those who want to keep their interests and positions secret from outsiders, there are ways to remain anonymously on the net.
*Spoiler: Use only Protected Internet and stay safe online.
What is online anonymity?
Online anonymity is the technical inability to link actions performed on internet resources with the person performing these actions.
By internet resources, we mean a variety of sites, forums, social networks, video hosting services (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.), public chats, internet messengers (such as Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, Telegram), and everything that is “on the internet.” Including, for example, computer games.
“Actions” can mean anything from very obvious events such as logging in to a social network and writing comments or clicking likes, to events that are entirely non-obvious for the user — for instance, moving the mouse over a page (without clicking), etc.
As soon as a person enters the internet and opens a search page, the system receives their IP address — a number that can be used to determine the user’s actual location. Any action in the network, any request, will be linked to this number.
When the number gets to third parties, they can find out personal information about the owner and use it for the following purposes:
- The collection of statistics, which is produced special programs. They can determine the user’s location.
- The information about illegal actions. This is how law enforcement agencies search for suspects and prevent crimes.
- The expression of interest on the part of individuals.
- For the purpose of fraud: it manifests itself when funds are debited from card accounts or e-wallets.
Why is online anonymity important?
With anonymity, the user gets the ability to bypass network censorship. You don’t have to think about which site the state will ban tomorrow or whether you can “go” to the forum on your online interests without further interference in your personal life.
Anonymity makes the average user beyond government agencies’ control, and they can cause a lot of trouble-up to the direct cost of time, health, and money. By staying “open” on the internet, you allow bad people to “disturb” you. Such risks are easier to neutralize by technical means.
Most surveys show that anonymity tools are used for banal purposes of circumventing censorship (state or corporate), out of paranoia, or out of principle. Don’t forget that hacking and deception are not the only reasons someone may be looking for you online: your employer may monitor the internet activity of employees.
And advertising? The more real data a user leaves on the web, the more targeted advertising and outright spam they will receive in the future.
5 methods to ensure anonymity online
– Can you truly be anonymous online?
Suppose you want to protect your confidential data from intruders and become anonymous to search engines, large corporations, the government, and other hidden viewers. In that case, you don’t need to remove yourself from the network. It is enough to use one or more tools that allow experienced internet users to hide their network presence.
1) Utopia P2P Network
Utopia is a decentralized ecosystem that ensures the anonymity of each user and the confidentiality of their personal data.
Utopia is built on a peer-to-peer architecture that does not have a single server for storing user data. When registering, the user does not need to enter personal data, such as name, mobile phone number or address. The system generates a private key that allows you to access all data.
What Is a Peer-to-Peer Network? Get acquainted with the secure and protected way to use the internet.
Utopia has several built-in tools for daily internet work:
- anonymous browser
- instant messenger
- crypto container
Each of the tools uses multi-level encryption, which provides reliable data protection and storage. Nobody can track a user’s movement or copy their data because every user stays anonymous within the network.
2) Regular proxies and SOCKS
A proxy server is gateway that acts as an intermediary between the user’s computer and the internet. In other words, it provides anonymity by spoofing the subscriber’s IP address. Depending on the security level, proxy servers are divided into:
- HTTP servers (normal) — pass through only HTTP traffic, adding data about proxy usage to it.
- SOCKS servers — pass through any traffic without adding anything to it.
These servers help maintain anonymity to circumvent various regional restrictions and provide basic security for confidential information. This is useful if you want to remain anonymous to search engines, corporations, and inexperienced hackers.
Advantages of proxy servers:
- availability and cheapness (there are free servers).
- You need to trust the proxy service.
- Proxy protocols do not support traffic encryption.
- You must constantly filter traffic for HTTP servers.
- You need to configure each new application or install special software.
3) Anonymizers (CGI proxies)
Anonymizers or CGI proxies are servers made so that their users only need to enter the address of the site of interest and nothing else. It also creates anonymous traffic by spoofing the IP, but no more.
- availability and cheapness.
- You need to trust the proxy server.
- No encryption — only the address is anonymous.
CGI proxies are useful for those who want to bypass employers, parents, or states. However, it would be best if you did not use them to protect yourself from corporations or hackers, since they only anonymize the traffic that passes through their site (server). All other Internet connections on your device remain unprotected.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a technology that creates one or more connections on top of another network (such as the internet). At the same time, the connection between the subscriber and the VPN server is encrypted, which creates the most anonymous internet access. And it will be so not only for web resources but also for providers. This is not possible with proxy servers.
Currently, commercial providers offer the following VPN protocols to their subscribers:
- OpenVPN is an open, secure, and therefore popular protocol that helps maintain anonymity on the network, but requires the installation of a separate client.
- SSTP security is comparable to OpenVPN, but there is no need to install additional software. However, there are limitations in platforms (Win7, Win8, Vista SP1).
- L2TP + IPSec. This bundle provides increased data anonymity since it has two levels of protection. The L2TP tunnel protocol allows you to remain anonymous when transmitting traffic, and IPSec encrypts it.
- PPTP security is not as high as the others, but it is easy to install and configure.
The main advantages of VPNs are that they provide maximum traffic security and do not require a long and complicated configuration. The disadvantages include a negative impact on the connection speed and additional load on the device. Also, many subscribers have noticed IP address leaks via Flash and Java applications.
5) SSH tunnels
SSH tunnel is a technology for creating anonymous connections on the internet using the SSH protocol. Its peculiarity is that information is encrypted at one end of the tunnel and decrypted at the other. The provider and web resources are used here only for transmitting traffic.
Advantages of SSH tunnels:
- minimal impact on Internet speed
- enhanced data security
- The decryption key can be stolen.
- Increased load on the device.
It should be noted here that SSH tunnels are usually used together with a VPN, so that to preserve the security of confidential data and providing the most anonymous access to web resources.
This article identifies and reveals all the reliable ways that users can ensure their anonymity on the internet. However, the situation is constantly changing, and new, more advanced developments are emerging.
If you want to remain unrecognized in your internet travels, try to keep track of new developments in the field of computer security.
Don’t forget to read Fully-Fledged Guide on Ways to Protect Online Privacy and use some well-prepared advice.