Privacy is a necessary component to the empowerment of civil society, and this premise remains valid in cyberspace. Our cybersecurity experts put their heads together to bring you a list of the most important things you can do to ensure your anonymity and privacy online. Armed with the tips and tricks they came up with, you can easily become an empowered ghost in the machine.
Secure Your Privacy & Be Anonymous Online
- How to be anonymous online
- Best Tips, Tricks, and Tools to Secure Online Privacy
- Retain Your Privacy Online
How to be anonymous online
Protecting your internet privacy can seem daunting at times. You speak of needing a new dishwasher on the phone with your Mother, and the next day notice ads appearing everywhere you turn online for dishwashers. This post will teach anyone how to take back their privacy. Let’s start with the basics:
- Understand Data Collection
- Any data moving between your device and the web can be tracked. Many of the tips in this article teach how personal information is collected from unwary individuals and how to stop this from happening to you.
- Assess Your Threat Model
- The privacy needs of each individual are different. Analyzing your vulnerabilities and recognizing who might want to take advantage of them makes up your threat model. As a high-level executive with trade secrets to protect, your threat model would likely differ from a social media influencer whose audience may include stalkers. Your income level, family, geopolitical climate, and even your social status should all be taken into account when assessing your threat model. Everyone has different threat models and they can all benefit from being more anonymous online.
- Take Advantage of Secure Tools
- Many people are coming to understand the importance of privacy. The tools to help keep you anonymous online grow in number every day. Once you’ve assessed a threat model for yourself, choose tools based on your internet habits. This includes how you browse the web and what information you need to share or access online.
- Learn Secure Internet Habits
- While on the internet, habitual behaviors can ruin your day before you even realize what you’ve done. Even the most secure tools to help hide your identity, location, and activities won’t help if you buy into a scam or share private information on social media.
The continuing flood of unscrupulous opportunity seekers online make it increasingly important to know how the internet tools you use work and where your shared data could end up.
Best Tips, Tricks, and Tools to Secure Online Privacy
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person.
Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
— Oscar Wilde
Take Advantage of Ad Blockers
Not only can ads online be annoyingly distracting, they can also disrupt your life and set you up for long-term aggravation. Your online profile is being added to with every action you take on the internet. Everything from the sites you visit to the videos you watch and even the products you look at or buy are being noted and stored in databases for political and commercial marketing and even potential litigation purposes.
Ad blockers can significantly lower the amount of information gathered about you. Aside from just keeping ads from visually showing up, most ad blockers also keep ads and their scripts from tracking you. There are some tracking tactics ad blockers don’t help with, though. Things like tracking pixels, browser fingerprinting, and supercookies can still help others build a profile of you.
Use Only Secure, Encrypted Email Accounts
If you’re like most people, there are probably bits of information in your email inbox and outbox that you wouldn’t be comfortable allowing random strangers access to. Can you imagine what they could do with the information found in your emails? If entrusting communications to Hotmail, GMail, Yahoo mail or any other corporate information broker, you might as well be shouting your messages across a shopping mall.
There are many encrypted mail services available. Several use open-source code for the added security of public scrutiny. With end-to-end message transfer encryption along with encrypted storage and contact lists, these services can make your communications virtually impregnable.
You can also use PGP/GPG encryption on your emails, which causes the receiver of your messages to need a public key from you in order to decrypt and view your messages. When that Google account really feels necessary, this is a great way to access it only with IMAP from your device, with decryption only taking place off-server. Used only for outgoing mail (use a secondary return address), Google never has access to the information within your email communications.
Use More Than One Email Address
Even with an encrypted email account, you are still placing all your eggs in one basket. Splitting your communications across multiple email accounts works great for keeping your privacy intact. Split your communications up in logical categories such as work, shopping, school, and personal among multiple email accounts.
Even if you feel the ‘need’ for a GMail account due to the convenience it provides for login assistance on some sites, use it only for that purpose if possible.
When signing up on sites you aren’t 100% sure of, there is also an option of using a temporary email address. Nothing can save you from bad passwords, though.
Only Use Secure Passwords
If you care about your privacy, then using “qwerty” or “abc123” is not gonna cut it. Most websites and databases that suffer breaches do so because of unsecure passwords.
Hackers use programs that try the most common password combinations on accounts, and many open up for them. Invariably, a large number of people use “123456,” “password,” or “princess” to secure their account. In 2018 alone, hackers gained complete access to over 1 billion accounts in data breaches online.
Be sure to use long passwords when possible and avoid dictionary words. Use a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols to make your password more secure. Do not use personally important words, such as family or pet names or even dates that have significance in your life. Try to make your passwords easy to remember ([email protected]?) but very hard to guess.
Take Advantage of a Password Manager
The way you set up your browser and system can make a big difference, but most are not secure enough to be trusted with saving all of your passwords. Password managers can help give you the same convenience of access while also safeguarding your passwords.
Password managers can automatically log you into the sites you visit online without exposing your security information in the process. Your collection of passwords will be encrypted and locked up tight with a single master password. Having your passwords encrypted and stored in this way is far more secure than saving them in your browser or operating system.
Ensure Extensions & Plugins are Private
This has to do with more than just browser addons. Always make sure you have done your homework before installing addons of any kind. Even Kodi addons have been known to exploit users by making their devices parts of a botnet for DDoS attacks.
Most privacy-oriented browser plugins can probably be trusted, but many others may collect your data for marketing to third-parties. Many are developed by individuals without the scrutiny of the public at large, though you can usually find reviews done for many by impartial privacy experts online to let you know about any potential security vulnerabilities.
Browse Anonymously Online With a VPN
VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are the only way to keep all of the information traveling between your device and the internet completely secure and private. They encrypt all of your internet traffic and not just from your web browsers. A top-tier VPN such as IPVanish VPN keeps hackers, snoops, marketers, and even your ISP or government agencies from recognizing your identity, location, or online activities.
There are plenty of free VPN services, but please do your homework before investing your security in one of them. Free VPN services are not to be trusted with your privacy and security. We published an article recently explaining what the best free VPN in the world is.
Most Private & Secure VPN Available
Only a premium VPN such as the IPVanish VPN service will keep you truly anonymous online and your personal data secure. Take advantage of features like DNS leak protection, military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, unlimited bandwidth, and even unlimited VPN server-switching among their over 1200 worldwide servers. IPVanish VPN also provides a choice of VPN protocols IKEv2, OpenVPN, and L2TP/IPsec to meet all your needs.
Try the IPVanish VPN app now and get the fastest, most secure VPN available risk-free with their 7-day money back guarantee.
Privacy Info Notice
If unsure what a VPN is, how it works, or why you really should use one, read this article:
Retain Your Privacy Online
There are many more things that can be done to fortify your online identity, location, and activities. We will continue investigating new ways of safeguarding data and passing them on to you. Until then, stay out of the news and…
May your streams never run dry!