It is practically impossible today to hide yourself on the Internet. From the secret services, to advertisers and internet giants like Google and Facebook, you cannot escape the data collection frenzy of many, many large parties.
Fortunately, we are here to give you a hand. We have listed the most useful tips for staying anonymous on the internet.
Let’s start with the basics and see what online services you use every day. Then check whether you really need it. Google is now so big that for many people it is synonymous with ‘the internet’, but you don’t necessarily have to use Google to search the internet. You can also use one of the many alternatives that do not store information about you. Consider, for example, the privacy-friendly search engine DuckDuckGo.
Also note that you don’t actually need a search engine at all for many things. For a lot of information you can also go directly to Wikipedia, where you can skip Google. And if you are looking for a news article on a certain website, for example, use the search engine of that news site itself. What also works: find a link via Twitter. Many people tweet links to (recent) articles – although you have to take into account that Twitter also looks at what you are looking for.
Use a proxy or VPN
When you use a proxy, you pass your traffic through another server. As a result, it is not immediately possible to find out which IP address you are using. This way you can also easily pretend that you are in another country.
If you want it even more secure, use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). It works in the same way, only the big difference is that it also encrypts your data. This makes it even more difficult to eavesdrop, because no one can see exactly what you are looking up or writing down.
If your public computers are working, you often cannot install programs like Tor. Or maybe you don’t have time for that at all and you want to “just get online”, but then safely. You can use TAILS for that. This is a mobile operating system that you can run directly from a (bootable) USB. This means that you only put your USB stick in the relevant PC, which boots up, and you arrive safely on the system. Tails leaves no traces, so your sensitive documents and search history can no longer be found for the following users.
Almost everything you do on the internet these days goes through the browser, or web apps are available. It is therefore high time to give that browser extra security. There are useful add-ons and extensions for that.
Take Ghostery (for Firefox or Chrome) for example, one of our favorites. With Ghostery you can see who or what you are being followed when you visit a website.
The great thing about Ghostery is that you can not only see who is tracking you, but that you can also block the trackers per website and per service.
Ghostery also works for many mobile browsers, so you are relatively safe from trackers there too.
But there are many other useful add-ons. HTTPS Everywhere, with this tool many of the most popular sites on the web are automatically encrypted via HTTPS.
Another useful app is Privacy Badger, created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Privacy Badger basically does the same thing as Ghostery, but tries to make the process easier and more accessible for the average user.
Use DNS over HTTPS
If you are using your own provider’s DNS server, it would in theory be possible that your internet provider is watching which hostnames (websites) your browser tries to connect to. I say in theory because it rarely happens that an internet provider actually does this.
DNS over HTTPS is recommended in countries where censorship is a problem, China, Russia etc. These types of countries are known for manipulating internet connections on a large scale. DNS over HTTPS makes it a lot more difficult for an internet provider to monitor the websites someone visits.
Visit this page to check if you have DNS over HTTPS enabled (DoH).