Every second, hundreds of thousands of users visit various websites, login to social networks and generally lead an active virtual life. In this connection, the question of anonymity on the Internet is becoming more and more relevant. Specifically, when users get online all of them leave certain data about themselves and their actions on the Internet due to an IP address (the individual number of each Internet computer) utilization. Consequently, lots of users manifest a legitimate desire to ensure their confidential data security and to weaken the control over their personal lives.
One of the main ways to achieve this goal is to employ countermeasures to your identification on the Internet meaning to solve the anonymity issue by utilizing certain possible approaches.
Do I really need anonymity on the Internet?
Generally, each user has every right to anonymity on the Internet because many third-party individuals and resources may utilize IP addresses to get information about Internet users. It is usually done for the following purposes:
1. Collecting accurate user statistics by means of special software to determine people’s locations and collect other data about them. This is relevant for multiple online stores and other commercial projects specializing in selling goods or services.
2. Collecting information about any illegal actions. Nowadays, law enforcement agencies are at liberty to demand certain citizens’ personal data from providers.
3. Fraud. By revealing user identities through IP-addresses and knowing their personal data, abusers can, for instance, withdraw money from someone else’s bank or electronic accounts.
Advantages of surfing the Web securely and anonymously
As of today, anonymous IP addresses on the Internet have a lot of advantages, so you can:
- bypass network (corporate or state) censorship;
- avoid total control by authorities;
- prevent detractors’ actions;
- protect yourself from abusers;
- minimize adverts and spam when working on the Web.
If you agree with at least one of the specified above points, we offer you to learn how to maintain a complete anonymity on the Internet using free or paid means.
Organizational measures to maintain anonymity
To maintain not complete but at least partial anonymity on the Internet, pay attention to the following simple recommendations:
- using a standard browser, always disable all third-party plug-ins, caching, browsing history, and cookies;
- occasionally update your operating system;
- do not visit public services or social networks while switched to anonymity mode;
- do not install unverified software applications on your PC;
- do not use your personal data, especially related to cash transactions while surfing via open Internet access points.
Software means of maintaining anonymity
Nowadays, there is a variety of software-based methods to maintain anonymity on the Web. We will review three of the most popular and effective ones in this article.
Virtual Private Network is a set of special software allowing you to create an encrypted and untraceable channel between each user and the network while hiding a real IP address and encrypting traffic.
Modern commercial providers offer the following VPN protocols:
- PPTP is the most popular, easy to configure and fast, but at the same time the “least secure” one when compared to others;
- L2TP and IPSec is a special bundle providing a sufficiently strong encryption resistant to vulnerabilities;
- OpenVPN is also quite common; it allows you to bypass a lot of blocks but requires a dedicated software client;
- SSTP is as secure as OpenVPN but at the same time does not require a dedicated client; though it is limited to just several operating systems like Windows 7 and 8, as well as Vista SP1.
The Onion Router (TOR) is a network of routers and special software using which the Internet user “goes” online via a chain of several nodes (usually three). Each of the nodes doesn’t see the client’s IP or the resource address. Additionally, TOR encrypts messages individually for each node, at the same time the open traffic is only visible to the exit router. Currently, TOR includes 10 control nodes and about 4,200 intermediary nodes, 900 of which are exit ones.
The traffic is returned openly but it is encrypted with a temporary symmetric key on the exit node and then it passes along the chain.
The Onion Router advantages are high-scale user anonymity and ease of use: downloading and running TOR Browser Bundle will suffice. There are also disadvantages like control servers utilization and substantially low speed.
Simply put, a proxy is a kind of intermediary between a user and websites meaning that all requests in a search engine are first directed to a specific server, and then it redirects them to a required website. Besides, modern proxy servers are able to hide IP addresses and encrypt data transmitted over the Web, as well as block cookie files.
The following types of proxy servers provide anonymity:
- HTTP (web), allowing only HTTP-traffic through itself;
- SOCKS, independent from high-level protocols (POP3, FTP, HTTP), therefore, allow any traffic;
- CGI (“anonymizers”), special web-servers with a form where clients enter a required website address allowing to open a respective page; at the same time the browser address bar shows just the CGI-proxy address.
High reliability and fairly affordable prices are the main advantages of proxy servers (a few free versions are also available on the Web, though they are low speed and unstable). According to multiple users, proxy servers are the most convenient and at the same time simple method to maintain anonymity on the Internet. All you have to do is to select a suitable service provider and purchase a necessary package depending on your specific purposes.