How to be anonymous online – Online privacy

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Introduction

Before we start going deeper into this topic “How to be anonymous online” let’s see what we will go through this article, So what we will learn here?

  • What is private browsing?
  • Private incognito mode browsing.
  • Deference between dark web and deep net.
  • Using TOR, VPN, and proxies for private browsing.
  • Setting up TAILS Operating system.

Online privacy (private browsing)

Simply what I mean here with “Online privacy”, is browsing the web anonymously in a way no one can know your real identity or get information about you when you are working online.

Let’s see now what advantages anonymous browsing can serve:

  • Hide your personal information from anybody around the web.
  • Privacy from your ISP (internet service provider).
  • You can be free from targeted advertising.
  • Helps in ethical hacking when you want to be hidden in some situations.

 

Private browsing (incognito mode)

What you have to know mainly, is using built-in private browsing techniques in modern browsers like private browsing in Firefox and incognito mode in chrome will not make you 100% secure.

Yes, these modes will prevent sites to store information on your device and may prevent cookies from saving your personal data locally, but this doesn’t mean you are hidden online! you are still tracked by many websites even if you are in private browsing.

Your IP, location, device, visited pages and much other information are still known for both ISP and websites all over the internet.

To start a private session in Firefox you can just press (ctrl + shift + p) or go to the menu and click on start private browsing as shown in the below images.

Firefox – open private browsing tab

In chrome, just click on the menu and click “new incognito tab“, or press “cntrl+shift+N” as the keyboard shortcut.

 

Deep web vs Darknet (web)

To understand this concept, what you have to know that almost everything you surf and see on the internet, like social media sites, searching for anything on search engines and most anything we do daily on the internet belongs to the surface web which presents only 4% of the internet as some 2016 statistics.

Now, what about Deep and Dark?

This image summarizes the concept, where the surface is everything that is indexed by search engines and can be seen by it.

While anything deeper is likely to be hidden from search engines like search engines itself. And as shown also in the image, the Dark web is a part of the Deep web that was hidden intentionally and can’t be accessed except using specific Browsers.

So just think about like this:  as long as you go deeper inside the internet, the data is more private and hidden publicly and from search engines.

The next image shows you some examples of the Deep and dark web.

Deep vs Dark

 

Dark web is 100% hidden from the public and has specific restricted access.

The Dark web has a certain layer of network security (Protocols and ports) which makes it more secure.

To access the Dark web you need special tools and not traditional web browsers. Limewire is a good example which is a peer-to-peer file sharing software where its hidden from the public internet and its accessed between users using this application only.

 

T.O.R

Let’s start with this question: what is T.O.R?

Simple T.O.R stands for The Onion Router, but it’s not actually a router, but a software concerned with online privacy where the main function is to let anyone surf the web without being tracked.

It works by bouncing your requests on different nodes on the internet and at last only, the last IP address is shown and will be visible which of course is not your IP address, so your real identity will be private.

This jumping and bouncing between nodes on every request will obviously make your connection slower, so you will notice a decrease in internet speed when you are using it.

Also what you have to know is that traffic inside the T.O.R network is encrypted however the traffic between T.O.R and the final destination will not be, so for that, a VPN (virtual private network) is recommended here. we will talk about VPN later.

Besides, T.O.R can help you host your own private applications and services that you want to be hidden on the internet.

When you are  browsing using T.O.R, the websites will be ending with .onion domain and the URLs will not be SEO friendly wince the most of the times are auto-generated (alphanumeric random keywords)

Example of T.O.R URL: http://5kjd2524skfgsd57947hcmsnf2s4dJKi12.onion

Installing T.O.R

T.O.R can be installed just like any other software on Windows, Mac, Android and Linux operating systems. And it’s preferred to use TAILS operating system as an additional security layer when working with T.O.R. (we will see that later)

Installation steps:

Open www.torproject.org.

  • Click download on the top menu.
  • And download the software. (Be sure to select the latest stable version)
  • Install and open the software, this window will pop up:

  • You have to options, the first one is to connect directly, and the second if you want to configure proxy with T.O.R (we will talk about proxies later)
  • Click on Connect, and wait for the connection to be established, then the T.O.R browser will open.
  • Click on open security settings to adjust your security level.

and start browsing privately!

Here is a small video That shows the T.O.R browser and how to use for the first time

 

VPN

In simple words, VPN stands for virtual private network and it’s a way to encrypt traffic between two network points. VPN is a way to create a virtual tunnel between two points on the internet so to communicate securely.

Example usage of VPN: If A website has restricted access to users only from a certain country (like the USA).

And you live outside the US. then you can use VPN to fake your IP and surf the web as you are in the US.

But what you have to know if you are using VPN services, that almost all companies log your VPN usage, so be careful, you are not hidden from the company providing you the VPN tunnel.

On the other hand, VPN service can play a very important role in protecting you from your ISP.

Some people use VPN instead of T.O.R as for online privacy, Yes VPN is good, but to be more secure just use VPN with T.O.R as an extra layer of protection.

Installing and configuring VPN

There are many different companies that provide VPN services all over the world, you can search google for the best VPN services, here is an example from PCmag.

You can select the best the fits your budget and needs, for me I use TunnelBear and I think It’s perfect, and it has a trial version to test before you buy the service.

Just download and install, it’s simple, I will not waste time with simple steps. If you need any help in configuring the VPN, just put a question in the questions area and I will be with you. (https://h-educate.com/questions)

Proxies

Think of a proxy server as a middle-man in your Internet’s connection. Before data can reach the web server you are trying to connect to, it must first flow through the proxy server – for both inbound and outbound data. Sort of like a traffic controller.

For example, let’s say that you want to facebook while you are at work. Unfortunately, your company has blocked access to facebook by blocking its domain.

What to do? Simple, just use a proxy server to overpass the network restriction. After you’ve configured a proxy service inside a web browser, all the data is sent to the proxy server instead of being sent directly to the website being accessed.

You may be thinking now about the difference between a VPN and a Proxy.

Simply when you establish a VPN connection, the connection between you and the server will be encrypted and then from the VPN and outside to the internet it’s just like a proxy acting.

Summary:

TOR: Make you private online by jumping between nodes and accessing the internet from the last node (Connection is encrypted inside the TOR network but not outside)

VPN: a Secure connection between you and the server, acts as a proxy when you connect to a restricted site.

proxy: allows you to connect using different IP (proxy server) but the connection is not secure.

In general, the best solution is to use TOR with VPN so you may achieve the best security.

 

Tails OS.

Tails is a Linux based operating system that aims to preserve your privacy. It helps you to use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship almost anywhere you go and on any computer but leaving no trace unless you ask it to explicitly.

When you use Tails, then you will be using T.O.R architecture to go private.

To download just navigate to https://tails.boum.org/

And just click on the download link on the right.

select your operating system (in my case it’s windows)

And select to install in a virtual machine (the link is on the right corner)

 

Now download the ISO image file of Tails OS.

After downloading, then just run the ISO file from a virtual machine system like Virtualbox or VMware Workstation. and go over the setup it’s very simple.

 

Now you can just open TOR browser and start browsing the internet privately.

 

Alright, Here we are, I hope you got some new ideas and information from this article.

please if you have any question, or suggestions feel free to comment below or open a question ticket in the question area.

Thank you.

 

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