In today’s world, our data is only a click away. This gets it easy for hackers… And when you find out what they can do with your personal information, you will feel the urge to achieve real anonymity and browse the internet safely.
What are they (hackers) after?
Any sensitive, “private” and valuable information to steal, extort and practically ruin your life.
They can get this information from at least 6 different sources.
The same 6 that you will learn to hide from today.
6 Reasons to Achieve REAL Anonymity & Browse the Internet Safely
Only a big task like this one would be backed up with bigger reasons.
If a cybercriminal decides to target you, then you can be sure he/she will very likely achieve its sinister goal.
You don’t want it. So, here are 6 reasons to stay anonymous online:
- Hackers may steal your identity and disguise as being you, to avoid guilt for crimes.
- Hackers may steal money from you, and your relatives (friends & family).
- Hackers may open bank accounts and ask for credit cards in your name.
- Hackers are capable of using your own credit card for their own purchases.
- Hackers might file a fake tax return with your Social Security Number (SSN)
- Also, if valuable enough, hackers could sell your data to others in black markets.
Are these reasons good enough for you to take action?
Re-read these reasons over and over again until you are faced with the reality of it.
Now, if you haven’t decided yet… Keep reading.
Let’s see exactly how Hackers and almost anyone can violate your online privacy.
How can ANYONE Violate Your Privacy Online
You are now aware of what can happen to you.
But you still don’t know how hackers are even capable of infiltrating networks or devices.
The following are just the most common methods used:
- Password Bypassing – Hackers steal it or guess it… Especially if they’re short, predictable, and repeat throughout different accounts. Security questions won’t prevent their access. Most times, they can get the answer with ease (publicly shared information).
- Phishing – Legitimate-looking emails, from “trustworthy” companies, aren’t always what they seem. Hackers have gotten better at stealing your information with fill-in forms and malicious file attachments.
- Malware – If you have been reading the MyITGuy blog for a while, you might be familiar with this term: malicious software that harms, steals, or deletes data out of your devices. There are hundreds of different types of malware (Virus, Spyware, and Ransomware are the best-known).
- Mobile Apps – Did you know that there are malicious apps inside of the Google Play Store and Apple App Store? If any gets installed on your mobile devices, then hackers have access to all your data stored (contacts and emails, for example).
- Network Vulnerabilities – Is your home network encrypted? Are you sure? If it isn’t, anyone could spy you all day long.
What about Public WiFi networks (hotels, restaurants, libraries, among others)? These are some of the favorite places hackers like to be around. They could even approach you with a fake network, which steals your data if you get hooked into it.
You see, this is no joke.
Cyber Criminals carry weapons to dismantle your information anytime, anywhere.
And all we wanted was to be connected to each other for growth.
Now, all we ask is to be left alone. What is the right way to do it?
Well, you don’t have to hide from everyone… But you should definitely erase any footprint left online.
You never know who’s watching.
How can you Browse Safely through the Internet?
Here’s how you do it.
12-Steps to Achieve Real Anonymity Online & Browse the Internet Safely
Before even starting, I must say something important:
All 10 steps won’t fit everyone. But all of them (at least, most of them) will work for you if you want to take the needed action to stay protected.
They include step-by-step instructions to achieve real anonymity online. Therefore, protect your most valuable data while moving around the internet.
This article is about being free and independent of why and where your data is disclosed.
Because your privacy and anonymity are at risk now that both the real and online word are merged together.
Geotracking, Facial Recognition, Smart Devices, IoT… Being “alone” seems impossible these days… Or is it?
- Safe Texting & Messaging – You can start small, right now, by doing some changes to your routinary messaging apps. You use them for work, but mostly to communicate with your loved ones… Those who know the most from you.
Being said, you wouldn’t be leaving sensitive information on the wrong hands.
And I’m sorry for being the one who ruins it for you, but WhatsApp isn’t trustworthy enough. Their end-to-end protection is not as effective as they say it is…
Instead, you can consider other alternatives as Wire, Signal, and Threema.
They all follow rigorous standards (company and infrastructure jurisdiction in Switzerland, Germany, and Ireland)…. And they do not follow cooperation with intelligence agencies as iMessage, Skype, and Facebook Messenger does.
- Secure Email – As it was previously mentioned, you use messaging apps and text to talk with friends and your family… But when we talk about work, email is most common.
You spent most of your professional life using this tool (email) and getting any information leaked could cost hundreds or even thousands to your business.
If you want to achieve real anonymity online, you can use ProtonMail, Tutanota, Hushmail, or LuxSci email providers.
First and foremost, ProtonMail it’s based in Switzerland, and it doesn’t ask for date of birth, phone number, or other personal data when registering.
Free package comes with a 500 MB storage, but there’s a 5 to 500GB upgrade.
From Germany, you can find Tutanota. Where everything sent is encrypted by its open-source webmail client. Otherwise, you could choose the easy-to-use Hushmail (Canada-based with 20 years of experience) or business solution: LuxSci (USA-based) with 1-50 available storage.
Now, there is good and bad news around Cookies.
Good news: Session cookies (as those which Amazon uses to recognize you and improve your experience) are the most common type. They don’t collect any personal information whatsoever… First-party cookies are a long-term form of these.
Instead, the bad news is that third-party or flash cookies will keep track of your browsing history, demographics, spending habits, and more.
You can hardly disable the latest (do not only hold bigger amounts of data but in the case of zombie cookies, they can be restored back again without your consent).
- Be careful about what you post online – All we wanted was to be connected. But our dream wish became a nightmare. Now, everyone has access to every angle of our life, which makes it overlooked (because it is the “new normal”).
Being said, if there’s something you don’t want everyone to find about, then the best idea would be to avoid posting about it on social media — for the entire world to see.
Take a step back and consider the whole picture of what you’re sharing: locations you are visiting now or that you visited, friends and family member’s life, sensitive personal statements, among others.
Easy to prevent? Indeed.
- App permissions – Have you seen those mobile apps requests on both iOS and Android? Did you know that they ask for more than what they actually need?
Take a look back and try to remember all the permission that you conceded to App makers: Microphone access (Is it going to record everything you say?), Location (Is it going to track your location?), Rolodex or Address book (Do they need to know about who your friends are?).
Luckily for you, you can un-do or turn off all unwanted permissions. Even if they (phone and app makers) make it hard to take back, you’ll find a way on “Settings”.
- Adblocker – Advertising networks have improved the way they target better and more specific ads at you… And with that, intrusiveness as a consequence.
You probably know Google and Facebook. These two platforms are the biggest players, therefore you can be sure that they track all your web movements (all while not having the account logged in… or not even having an account with either).
Yes, they’re trustable companies… But they keep some shady practices in place as well… So you better start doing something about it.
The closest/fastest solution? Installing an ad blocker. It won’t work like a miracle, but it’s better than nothing.
Chrome’s Ad-block or the Brave Browser itself can sinkhole ad network DNS requests at your local router level.
- Home assistants – Do you have Google Home (and Now), Amazon Echo (and Alexa), Siri or Cortana at home?
You better start practicing your throw… Into the trash can.
IoT (Internet of Things) is clearly providing an end-point to humanity’s outsourcing and automation capabilities. But it’s also hurting other valuable parts of how we work.
Did you know that they keep using the same technology protocols they used in the 80s? By default, the security configuration is not only outdated but thin and vulnerable.
These always-on digital snoops are poisonous to privacy and anonymity, and there is no meaningful way to make them less privacy-invasive.
- Password Protection – If someone opens the doors of your devices… It’s directly accessing your private life as well. Intelligent password protection seems fair now?
For this reason, I’ll be contrarian to what some “experts” say and are that: you should avoid Biometric passwords. Showing skepticism about them could save you some headaches.
Why exactly? biometric systems work with easily-falsified data (fingerprinting is remarkably easy to replicate, as they can be taken from photos, for example).
Instead, for the traditional method: passphrases and password managers.
In the first place, passphrases are long streaks of text that results in impossible or at least extremely difficult to guess (even with password cracking tools).
And password managers (as 1Password and KeePass) can make your life easier. You can save secure passphrases into an also-secured platform that holds it for you.
Can you imagine having to remember 100s of different login credentials?
- Safe Browsing – The web browsers market is very competitive, and security is one of those features that they all keep working on upgrading to get an advantage.
Let’s start with Firefox and its recent updates. They’re definitely faster and easier to use… but is it more secure? Definitely. Its nonprofit organization (Mozilla Foundation) doesn’t care about making billions by selling your browsing data to advertisers.
Besides, being open-source, it lets anyone curious enough to check its source code and confirm there aren’t “sneaky features” that may compromise your anonymity.
Then, we have Chromium. The name might sound familiar to you… Well, the reason is that this open-source browser project is what Google Chrome is based on.
It has been confirmed that Chromium is safe… But not as well-polished as Firefox or Chrome itself. Why not? No automatic updates, to mention one. It means you’ll be vulnerable with an insecure version of the software if you forget and let weeks pass by without any update whatsoever.
Of course, we cannot let Microsoft Edge out of the ring (“new Internet Explorer”). Funny enough, it’s based on Chromium’s edge, and all other considered-private browsers: Sandboxing, Windows defender’s Application guard, and SmartScreen.
Finally, what’s considered the “most-private” browser of all: Tor.
This metadata-resistant software is not perfect… But it’s the best we’ve got so far.
There’s even an official Tor Browser app for Android devices (and OnionBrowser offers a non-official iOS app as well).
- VPN… Or not? – If you’re a bit “techy”, then you have definitely been waiting for VPNs to be part of this list…. And here it is.
But before considering the 10th step as the definitive one, let’s see it with different eyes. Without any doubt, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) might hide you from risky encounters… Reality is, all a VPN does is move you to someone else’s server.
This is a great and legitimate reason if you’re at the local coffee shop… Or when you’re traveling (at the Airport or Hotel WiFi network). Just take into account that real anonymity is not one of these great reasons.
This is remarkably true if you’re trying to get away using a “free” VPN tool. The 3 best, premium choices available are NordVPN, CyberGhost, and ExpressVPN.
Differently to what we mentioned as safety tools (Brave and Tor browsers, for example)… A VPN will keep showing your traffic to its provider.
Meaning, if someone hacks its way and takes control of your VPN’s server, you’re even more vulnerable than you were before.
Well, your safeness and privacy are important for me… For us.
That’s why the MyITGuy has added two extra layers of protection.
Who would be benefited from them?
Mostly, high-charge business people/owners who are aware of the plethora of dangers that await silently out there.
We tend to forget or just completely ignore the fact that cybercriminals are capable of anything, to achieve their sinister goals.
If you reach this point and consider to add the 2 last steps… Is because you’re being pursued.
Let ‘s stop that.
- File-Sharing – Do you tend to share important and confidential files with associates? You should definitely check this out…
Dropbox and similar Cloud-storage services are popular and easy-to-use… But unfortunately, they’re far from being secure.
In the first place, you can’t set specific viewing, sharing, or editing permissions of your files. So, you won’t even know who got in… And of course, you won’t see either who deleted or overwrites your files.
Hopefully, for us, there are better and safer alternatives…
OnionShare is one of those. Available for Windows, macOS, and Ubuntu.
Remember about the Onion/Tor project?
They are also in charge of this Tor-powered file-sharing service.
But if you aren’t fully convinced about it, there are other alternatives to consider (WebRTC and FilePizza) that equally eliminates process steps, and adds security measurements.
For the use of the software, the application starts a server with an onion service and associated address on the user’s computer. Third parties can then access this address via the Tor browser and upload or download files.
Of course, the transfer speed is fast, private, and anonymous (you won’t find data stored on a server).
- New, Digital Identity – This is for the most dedicated, hardcore readers.
And it’s also for those who would like to have fun being “someone else” temporarily.
Yes. It’s possible to create your new, digital identity to enforce anonymity and safe internet browsing.
What consists of having a new identity? Mostly, having a different name, and those kinds of information differently (physical and email address, and phone number).
fakenamegenerator.com/ is a tool that perfectly solves this problem.
Just take one thing into consideration: some platforms (as Facebook) have advanced systems in place to detect and even block users that register with fake identities.
Apart from that, depending on how serious your situation is… You should definitely consider changing this new identity consistently.
With invented and constantly-changing identity data, your footprints will be untraceable. So don’t break character and die with the lie.
At this point, you should definitely be hidden from 90% of cybercriminals out there… At least from the most novice.
Of course, this is only if you have performed every step included on this list (or at least most of them).
I won’t tell you to avoid communication with friends and family members… Or to never use your real identity in the real world, back again.
But what I do recommend you, is to be aware of all the dangerous presences that wander around the internet. Only that way, you’re out and safe from predator’s eyesight.
I say No to infringing the laws yourself… But I scream YES to thinking in favor of your business assets – and most importantly, of your beloved ones.
What do you say… Want to achieve REAL anonymity once for all?
I’ll personally help you to achieve safe internet browsing!