In today’s world of internet where everyone’s life is virtually in the open, anonymity and privacy have become one of the major concerns. One never knows when one’s activities are being tracked on the web. There are many reasons behind your choice of browsing the web anonymously, but usually, the main reason is because you want to keep your privacy safe.
Be it the local internet cafe, or using someone else’s computer, browsing the web anonymously has hence become a huge hassle. If you want to do some research and you don’t want other people to find out about it because at the end, it’s a matter of confidentiality and safety. When we mention privacy, it includes a big range of things that you might want to hide, but basically, you want to hide from other people you don’t know or from the web itself.
So here are some of the tricks using which you can easily browse the web without the fear of being identified or tracked because scam messages and hackers are everywhere, and probably, you don’t want to be hacked or get a virus from the web.
Private Browser Window
This is a feature that is provided by almost all of the web browsers these days. When you are using a private browser window on your computer, it will allow you to surf the web and it will not save your browsing history, passwords, cookies or your personal information. It is useful to cover and protect your searches on the web.
In Google Chrome it comes as an option named ‘Incognito Window’ while Safari and Mozilla Firefox use ‘Private Window’. As the name ‘Incognito’ suggests, this is the easiest way which allows the user to conceal their identities and activities while browsing. While you are surfing in this mode, none of your search or browsing history is stored as this feature protects your information by disabling the browsing history on the web. Furthermore, it disables the web cache (files temporarily stored for faster surfing) and the storage of data in cookies.
However, the mode only provides protection on the local device level. Browsing can still be tracked using one’s IP that is associated with the web server. This mode is most useful for the following:
- Removing automated responses that include website URLs, your personal info and passwords.
- Prevent accidental saving of personal info.
- Perform searches that are not influenced by your history or connected friends’ recommendations.
- Signing into multiple accounts.
All major search engines track the activities of a user. You can be sure if you want to google to find something you need, Google will definitely track all your moves. So when you navigate the web, everything you do, all you look for is not completely private. Google trends actually provides one with the data of all searches over different time periods, age groups and geography as well. This is achieved by collating data from different searches along the globe.
To avoid being tracked while you search for things on the internet, there are many websites that provide you with tracking free searches such as duckduckgo.com. The details of what you were looking for will be saved with your IP address, and this is impossible to avoid unless you search the web anonymously. To avoid this, there are some different ways and solutions to look information or visit the sites you like online, anonymously, and hide at the same time your internet connection.
One can make use of Proxy or VPN servers. These websites hide your IP by routing it through various other ‘proxy’ servers. But sometimes the use of proxy servers can also slow down the uploading process as the information is routed through another server. Also as the info goes through external sources, the user info such as credit card details can be intercepted especially if the channel is not encrypted over an HTTPS protocol.
An HTTP cookie also known as a web cookie, contains data from a website that is stored in a user’s system by the web browser and are like a small text file. Cookies usually store all your private information including what searches you performed on the internet, what you looked for, what you were doing or your personal information you wrote on some site.
It is a mechanism for websites to access user information. This includes items in the shopping cart of an e-commerce website, or user browser history such as login details or auto-fill personal information. Authentication Cookies are used by websites to gauge if a user is logged in or not. The website thus decides if it should show sensitive info or not. The security of such cookies is subject to the security of issuing website and that of the user’s web browser. Hence, this becomes the breeding ground for hackers to fish out sensitive user information.
Then, what to do to be sure all you do around the web is safe for you? You need to clean and delete all the cookies saved on your browser. Therefore you should be constantly deleting your cookies and temporary cache in the History option of your web browser. This would prevent hackers from accessing your information. Now a days, there are many different antivirus programs which can be used to avoid cookies, prevent virus in your systems and avoid damages on your computer.
Avoid Google Tracking
You need to know that all websites you visit, will be tracking on you and the way you use them. Google also keeps the track of how you are using their website. Other networks typically track your activities only when you are logged in. However, it doesn’t really matter if you logged in or not, you will be tracked by major websites such as Google and Facebook even if you have not logged in with your account. This helps them to show users relevant ads to their likings. That is the reason why you’d see only Apple iPhone ads on every website if you just visit an E-commerce website for that purpose.
So, if you are that kind of person who doesn’t really like the idea of some other people or company gets a lot of information about yourself, you need to learn how to avoid Google`s tracking when you need to find something. In order to get your safety, the main thing you should do is disable the tracking option that Google has.
You need to visit the Google page by going to Google Ad Settings and then sign in to your account. Then look for advertisement setting and change the opt-out, turn out the cookie plug in and by doing this, google will stop tracking on you. You will see all your details that Google has gauged and predicted according to your activities. You can choose to stop personalization of your ads here. But this will still not prevent Google from tracking you completely. You can scroll down to opt out of these ads. You can also download the cookie opt out plugin to avoid being tracked in the future.
Prevent Social Media Sites to Track your Browsing Activity
As mentioned in the previous points, Social media websites such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, track a user’s activity as well. All social media sites want to know what are you doing on the web, and this is no secret. This is done for personalized advertisements and for other companies to target specific crowd. They make a lot of money when they know all your information and they really want to get all your privacy. They use to track every step you take on internet and have information about the habits you have and all activities you do.
Also, it gives the user suggestions on the latest trending topics around the globe or who to follow on sites like Instagram or Twitter. To prevent social networking sites from tracking you, you can use various plugins available for your web browser. Top examples include – Do Not Track Plus, Disconnect (for blocking one specific Social Media Website) and Ghostery. These plugins work with all major web browsers and are very easy to implement. Many extensions will help you to do it and to enjoy your privacy while you navigate on the web.
For Mobile phone browsing, Atomic Browser Lite is one of the best option. These plugins and browsers make sure that none of your activities is available for use on Social Networking Websites.
Use Proxies or VPNs
There is a difference that not many people know when we talk about proxies and VPNs. When we talk about a VPN service, we refer to a virtual network which is private that usually encrypts all we do, replacing our ISP, programs and applications that we used on our computer or phone. A VPN would hide your network location from which you are connecting and let you access internet without imposing any restrictions. There are many VPNs available in the market such as StrongVPN, PureVPN, HideMyAss and more.
Proxy serves as an intermediate between the user machine and all the remaining computers over the internet. They are used to hide the IP address of the client enabling them to access blocked or prohibited IP addresses. They help in enhancing privacy and security breaches. It is used for filtering the Internet content using different categories such as violence, porn, games etc. For example, some organizations have blocked sites like Facebook but it can be easily accessed via proxy server.
Basically proxies are perfect for low risk activities such as region based blocked videos and bypassing restricted services whereas VPNs are used to encrypt the transmitted data over internet so that it remains secure.
You would have understood by now how and why websites track your activities. Another way to prevent them from doing so is to block trackers all together. On the web, you can find many extensions for your browsers to protect you and give you security. Plugins mentioned above already do that for major websites. Apart from that you can download tools like Privacy Badger that are exclusively designed to block trackers from different websites. Some of them will give you the best protection when you surf the web. Some of the block trackers will allow you to control the places you look for, they can block ads that shows up when you visit a site.
Your typical antivirus software also provides you with tools to maintain your anonymity on the web. Norton has an Ad Tracker Blocking icon which you can use. As majority of these tools use different criteria for blocking trackers, you can use an amalgam of some or all the tools mentioned. That will block individual trackers, tracker requests and third party domains as well.
One important thing about this, is that you really need to know how to use these tools, and when you block some of the ads from a web site, you could have some difficulties when you want to work on there. Therefore, you need to think clearly when you choose the sites you want to block.
Some others tools, like Adblock Plus, gives you the right to stop unwanted visitors like malwares to your computer, and with this application, you can avoid cookies and scripts, being this the best option to be safe on the web.
Use Tor and Go Dark
Tor is a web browser designed exclusively for anonymous browsing. This amazing tool, make possible to browse the web in anonymously. It will not save or track cookies, user info or any kind of user activity. Tor is a great tool, it really works and protect all our information. Your digital fingerprint shall not be available to the world. It is suggested to not download documents or torrents or open documents using the browser as IP address of users can be leaked while doing so. Plugins are also suggested to be avoided. Also, it has the advantage that allows the user to make a better research on the web. You will be able to reach to information that usually won’t appear on Google or another search engine.
Go dark, refers to all websites which you know are public sites, but all those sites have their IP hidden. You will never know who is behind the site, and you wouldn’t be able to find those sites when you use a searching engine. When you use Go Dark, you need to know this include knowing user’s information, mails, registration information from web sites and personal information.