Are you concerned about privacy on the web ? Then anonymous web browsing, the ability to navigate the web without being detected, is for you. Here are some frequently asked questions to hide your tracks more diligently on the web.
Why would anyone want to hide their web activity?
People have many reasons to browse the web privately, but they all cut to protect something or someone.
For example, if you’re in a country with restrictive web policies , you’ll probably want to hide your browsing from the government if you’re looking at websites that are in conflict with their policies. If you’re at work, you may not want your employer to see you looking for another job. If you are at home looking for prescription medication information, you probably do not want to be sent spam emails that offer the latest in drug promotions. It’s all about privacy.
Who or What do you want to hide?
Private web browsing can take two basic forms.
- Privacy from other people: You will be amazed at how much information is available from your web pages.
- For example, using simple hacker tools, someone who really has your IP address, cookies, which are in your browser’s cache, can find out what kind of computer you are using … they could even connect to your hard drive and access your private files, including passwords and banking information. These tools can also access your private information through your email provider, unless your email provider is secure and anonymous .
- Web Privacy: Say you search the Web for information on a drug to help your arthritis. Your search terms, IP address, time, etc. Will likely be logged in and tracked by the site you land on.
The best case scenario is that you just start getting a lot of spammy emails in your inbox to sell you the new arthritis miracle cure.
The worst case scenario is as follows: your browsing information is being sold to other drug website companies. You start getting telecommunication calls at dinner (your phone number is easily accessible unless it is unlisted), you start getting junk mail at home, and much more. Suffice it to say that there are quite a few ways that unscrupulous companies can manipulate the information you provide on the web.
Web browsers and your information
We mentioned that websites and other people include information about you, including your IP address; Well, what does that mean exactly? What is an IP address and why would you want to hide it?
Your IP address is basically the signature address of your computer as it is connected to the internet. The reasons why you want to hide your IP address are many, but here are the basics:
- Detection: you can be easily and easily detected and traced with your IP address.
- Attack: Your IP address gives hackers an access path to your computer.
In a nutshell, anonymous navigation works by placing a buffer between you and the website you want to view so you can see information without being detected. There are two main ways in which this can be achieved.
Web page with a proxy server
Proxy servers work by fetching web pages for you. They hide your IP address and other important browsing information so that the remote server does not see your information, but rather sees the proxy server’s information.
However, there is a small chance that the proxy will record your data, and it is quite feasible for a malicious proxy server to overwrite everything on your machine. Using an anonymous server with a good user rating and clear privacy policies should avoid this.
For much, much more detailed information on how proxy servers work and how to set up your browser to navigate with an anonymous server, see our Introduction to Proxy Servers article. Surfing with a proxy site or service is simple: all you do is navigate to the proxy site, enter the URL you wish to visit anonymously, and you will be able to navigate virtually no track you have ever been there not.
How proxy sites work
When you use an anonymous proxy and the URL you want to visit anonymously, the proxy will basically get the pages before they are delivered to you. This way, the IP address and other browsing information that the remote server sees does not belong to you – it belongs to the proxy.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that these services tend to block your flash faster, and there will usually be ads at the top of your browser window (they have to pay the bills somehow!). But it’s worth it if you’re really invisible on the web.
There are literally hundreds of free proxies out there; here are just a few:
- Anonymous: This service allows you to browse the web without revealing any personal information.
- Tor: Using Tor, you can navigate and publish anonymously, instant messaging, IRC, SSH and other applications using the TCP protocol.
- 250 workforces: perhaps the largest list of anonymous proxies.