So you want to become invisible online? Become untraceable online? Or better still improve your online privacy? In this guide I will provide a thorough practicable guide on how you can achieve this.
I will categorize this steps into three so you can know where you want to place yourself and we will call it:
- Anonymity Level 1
- Anonymity Level 2
- Anonymity Level 3
Anonymity Level 1 and 2 is pretty much okay for most people but nevertheless I will allow you to choose which one you think fits you.
Lets get started;
How to become Invisible online using Anonymity Level 1
Yeah, this level of anonymity is very simple to implement, but it won’t help you become invisible completely, but I think its okay.
You don’t have to be completely invisible online as a regular individual, but those who want attain greater level of online anonymity are people who have government agency tracking or tracing them down.
Like actively looking them, but sure I will be explaining how to go more deeper in this anonymity in other levels.
But if you just want to hide then that’s actually pretty easy to do because hiding online essentially just comes down to trying to leave as few tracks behind as possible and also scattering those tracks as far apart as possible.
So that makes it become really difficult to actually track down who you are or where you’re at.
Also there is this common fallacy people think that Google and Facebook and big fortune companies do when it comes to tracking us.
Well the good news is, “They can only track what you allow them to track”, they aren’t some god tracking robot, hope you get that.
The information you give to them freely are;
- Storing your photos on google photos.
- Creating social media profiles with your name and adding your close friends on Facebook.
- Bookmarking websites on chrome, giving chrome permission to location all time.
- Not reviewing what and what history your google account is saving.
- Keeping Facebook app on your phone, which allows it to track your offsite activities, facebook can track other apps you are using on your phone, even newly downloaded app.
- Not removing exif data from images before sharing online.
- Turning ON your location access on twitter.
- Giving your home address to online shops and delivery agents and lot more.
So can you see now that you’ve been given out your information freely to them and most times.
But it’s okay, if we never knew they can’t be used to track us.
So now the first step to becoming invisible online is to stop giving them free access to your personal information, stop giving them things they will use to track you
What do we do now to at least to attain Anonymity Level 1:
- Reduce the amount of personal information to the sites you visit
- Create multiple emails for multiple purpose
- Use Strong Passwords
- Use browsers or extensions that helps you block tracking scripts and ads
1. Reducing Personal information shared with sites you visit:
Stop giving out personal details to everyone, if you want to buy something online, giving your actual details might be okay but you don’t really need to enter the accurate details.
For example, in the delivery address, enter your local postal address or your logistics warehouse address.
Stop giving out your home address to them, your items then get shipped to the logistics warehouse or your local postal address.
That way the company you are buying something from doesn’t have your home address.
Also keep in mind that everything you are entering into shipping address or forms can be used to identify or track you, be on watch on things you share with this companies.
Also when you create password on some website or app, they ask you to answer some security questions which in case you ever forgot your password and need to reset it.
When you get the security question right, you get access to your account again, now you see you don’t need to put real answers there, since you only need to remember the answer , it doesn’t mean it has to be accurate😎.
Not putting the correct answer can also save your account from getting hacked easily, Let’s say the security question asked for is “your mother Maiden name” and you entered the correct/accurate answer.
The only job the hacker needs to do is find your mother maiden name and answer the security question for you and he/she will access your account.
If the company asked you where you were born, you can tell them you are from the space or from planet mars 😂 and the answer will work.
2. Create multiple emails for multiple purpose
This so close to our number one point, which is reducing the information you give out and feed to the public.
Creating multiple emails for different purpose will help you increase your online anonymity, if you have been using the same email for all your online activities before, stop that now.
You need to create a different email for shopping (this will even help prevent spammy market email from your main email account), create a separate email for your social media accounts.
Have your main email for messaging friends and family different from the email you used to setup your bank and financial accounts, also create separate email for business activities.
That way it gets really hard to figure things out about you easily by anyone and if someone have access to your online shopping email, it will lead to nothing related to your social media account nor your finance or personal life.
But looking into it, google even isn’t perfect email for privacy, go for ProtonMail, if you want a privacy focused email.
3. Using Strong Password
Using strong password is something that has been emphasised on a lot of time, because passwords aren’t going away any soon, so you need to accept it and make sure you use strong password to avoid making yourself an hackers playground.
So start creating long password, long passwords are considered strong password, i would suggest using something like characters or more for every password and i know that this is a lot of work for most people.
But computers today have become a lot faster and that means that shorter passwords are way easier to crack.
So the best way to protect against that is to create long and complex passwords, the problem with long and complex is that most of us humans really struggle with remembering them 😭.
Long sequence of randomized letters, numbers and symbols are best practices for password.
We solve that by essentially coming up with something that we can remember and that would be something like a sentence that you remember really well or that you know so well or a phrase of some kind.
So now we have a strong password but we need to be able to store this somewhere, most of us will use a note on our phone or add in new contacts for each password which is not very safe.
But i know that most of you guys will still continue doing this, so here’s a way to do it safe and make it a little bit more secure.
If you use the system for creating a password through something easy to remember that’s outside your life, long sentences or lyrics you love with spray of your own words.
So you can store the password as it is before you actually change those things that way even if someone finds your list of passwords they’re unlikely to get into your accounts.
The better way to do all of this and solve all your stress and save time is through using a password manager because a password manager will take care of not only creating a lot more random passwords but it will also take care of remembering those passwords for you as well or storing them for most people.
Would recommend using something like Dashlane and also i can say that Dashlane is not incapable of going wrong.
But it is what most people actually are looking for and there are also other ones out there like LastPass and lots of other things but i haven’t used any of them, so i can’t really recommend them.
If you want something a little bit more secure than that then you can find an open source password manager like KeePass.
KeePass is an open source password manager, the benefit with open source can be that everyone can see how KeePass was built.
So hopefully that means that potential bugs get fixed compared to something like Dashlane where we can’t actually see how it was built and so there could be some sort of vulnerability within their system that hasn’t been detected yet.
The best way to clear your doubts is to build your own password manager and store that on a usb stick that way it’s very unlikely that someone else will find your passwords and even if they do find that usb stick.
They still need to get into your password manager which you’ve hopefully made really difficult.
But the disadvantage of using a usb stick password manager is you need to insert it in all time and more other issues related to it.
You might end up trading your convenience for security and anonymity and usually the more secure and anonymous something is the more effort it takes to actually use it.
So that’s all you need to know about creating and storing really secure passwords, you can also check our guide on Best Secure Password Managers Apps
4. Use browsers or extensions that helps you block tracking scripts and ads
Ever heard of a brave browser? Tor browser and many more, yeah these are the browsers a privacy focused person should be using.
For those who are deeply in love with chrome, yeah I understand how you feel leaving chrome to another browser, but if you are really concerned about your privacy you won’t look back again.
But what if you are looking for something that has same functionality like chrome and still respect your privacy? It’s Brave Browser.
Also if you are panicking about your saved chrome passwords and how you can sync your data between your laptop and system, Brave take’s care of all this for you.
So why are you delaying the switching?
Brave also have inbuilt ads and tracking script blocker called Shields, not just that brave speeds up internet surfing rate alone.
It also have a means of rewarding users for using it, which is called BAT Token(cryptocurrency), that’s If you enable the option though, which isn’t compulsory actually.
Tor browser on the other hand is suitable for people who visit dark web and also wants a privacy focused browser, not as flexible as brave.
But yeah it’s also a good browser for privacy, that will be all on Anonymity Level 1.
Let’s move into Anonymity Level 2
Getting hard to track, this part will give you the anonymity that most of you are actually looking for,
Firstly, try using tor web browser to understand why tor is better than chrome for browsing the web anonymously.
But first we need to understand those things that can be used to identify you on the web, this might look heavy but I will break it down.
There’s lots of things that can be used on the web to identify who you are or where you are and the main one here is your IP Address.
Which is very accurately named because your ip address is a unique address that is associated with your device on the web.
The web actually operates a lot like a postal office, let’s take for example, maybe you are trying to make an order on a platform.
The platform will then need to send the orders to you, the platform needs some way of knowing where you are to send it.
So you need to have some sort of postal address that is unique to you, so that the video will get to the right place.
So now if you don’t want the postal office to know your address then you can give them an address of someone else that you know or the address to a postal box somewhere that you have access to.
Meaning you basically hide your address which is what you want to do, if you want to browse the web anonymously you want to hide your ip address.
You may have heard of VPN? VPN does exactly what i just explained now, so the VPNs are basically another address that you can send mail to, they then forward that mail via their own service to your home address meaning that they know your home address.
So using a VPN will hide you somewhat from the place that you’re trying to connect to but it won’t make you disappear.
In order to disappear you need to actually have your IP Address disappear or to change it, this is where the Tor web browser comes in.
Tor browser helps you randomize’s your IP Address so that it looks like you’re someone else somewhere with someone else IP Address, so you become virtually invisible not entirely but extremely close.
So now i will explain how to become entirely invisible, now you need to use Tor end-to-end encryption.
This will help you encrypt every request you send it also encrypts your data multiple times so you can think of that as layers of an onion each time they encrypt your information.
Another layer is added to the onion this is why this method is referred to as onion routing and it also makes it virtually untraceable so for most of us looking to browse the web anonymously, tor will do what we need.
Step 2 of Levelling up our Level 2 Anonymity
We can level it up by using an encrypted messaging apps to chat securely, Signal Chat App is the popularly used ones and also considered the most anonymous.
The more encrypted something is the more anonymous it becomes, so look for apps that allow for end-to-end encryption for messaging.
For emailing and phone calls, use ProtonMail for emails, and you can also use Mailvelope which is something that you can use in combination with your regular email providers to encrypt your emails.
So now you would be using these two combinations alongside Tor web browser, you have achieved Anonymity Level 1 and Anonymity Level 2, you’re hard to hack, you’re hard to track and you can become completely invisible.
I will update this guide soon with Anonymity Level 3, where you become ghost totally to institutions and agencies that track individuals.
Frequently Asked Questions about Online Anonymity
Can you truly be anonymous online?
It is virtually impossible to remain anonymous on the Internet. As a consequence of the protocols used for Internet communication, some details of your device's setup are communicated to your Internet service provider, and often to the site or service you are using.
Does VPN really make you anonymous?
Privacy isn't interchangeable with anonymity and VPNs don't make you anonymous, The connection between the VPN server and website (or web service) isn't encrypted but your identity is protected because the server changes your IP address.