100% and completely anonymous web surfing is not possible. Not even the most elite hacker in the world can escape being caught. But there is plenty that you can do to have a more anonymous online surfing.
This article is going to look at anonymous web surfing tools, explain how they work, and show you a few tactics that you can use as well. If you use all of them, you will be as anonymous as you can be when online, without becoming a hacker.
Anonymous web surfing tools
Using a private browser
The vast majority of people’s web surfing is done through their browsers. Using a more anonymous browser is an obvious first step. It can keep your browsing history private from anyone else who uses your machine and can also help ward off data retention.
In another article, we look at the best private browsers for anonymous surfing. From that article, the best ones to choose from are:
- Comodo Dragon browser
- Epic Browser
- SRWare Iron
- TOR browser
The first three are quite similar, but the TOR browser is a bit different. It changes your ability to have anonymous web surfing by sending your traffic through a variety of routers. All four have the same basic functions though.
BEST Epic ever for Windows released yesterday (v60). Many bug fixes (twitter video), more privacy, many new proxy servers! Hope you love it! pic.twitter.com/SiaMhhPQLb
— Epic Privacy Browser (@epicbrowser) August 31, 2017
Use a VPN
A private browser is a good tool, but nothing gives you anonymous web surfing like a VPN. Here is what a good VPN can do for your desire to have anonymous surfing:
- Route all your traffic through another server. This will hide your location from every website, hacker, and online tool trying to track you.
- Encrypt all your traffic, starting right at your computer. Complete end-to-end encryption of everything you do on your Internet connection, not just within your browser but apps as well.
- Prevent your ISP from recording every single website you visit. This ability comes from a VPN’s ability to encrypts all your traffic, starting at your computer. This way, VPN disables your ISP’s ability to record where you are going.
If you choose only to use one anonymous surfing tool or tactic, go with the VPN route. However, some VPNs may still log your activity and store your information on their servers. This is not what you want if you truly want to be anonymous while surfing. For the absolute best protection you need to choose a VPN like IPVanish which does not log user’s activity.
Using an ad blocker plug-in
Ad blocker plug-ins are not just about blocking ads. They also block advertising networks from tracking your online movements. Advertising agencies love to take your data and use it for—you guessed it—serving you more advertisements.
When your data is stored by advertising agencies, it is free to be accessed by those with nefarious ideas in mind. The best ad blocker plug-ins include:
These tools are a plug-in for your browser, and you will see them working next to your address bar.
Anonymous web surfing tactics
Using incognito mode
If you are not going to use one of the private browsers listed above, don’t worry, you can get a similar function from your current browser. Simply find a way to turn on your browser’s incognito mode (or private browsing), typically under the file tab.
This will block third-party cookies from tracking you and all the websites you visited. Also, this will erase first-party cookies—the ones put on your browser by a specific website—once you leave a website.
Delete cookies yourself
Supercookies (or Flash cookies) are another threat to your ability to do anonymous web surfing. Websites which run Flash player are mostly the ones which commonly have this kind of cookies. These cookies retained an enormous amount of data. Moreover, supercookies can track your data across multiple browsers.
Frequently clearing your Internet cache is also a good idea. Always having your VPN on is another way to block cookies.
Prevent your browser from sending location details
You can prevent your browser from telling websites your location. For the browsers listed below, you can permanently remove such location requests in the following ways:
- Google Chrome: Go to Preferences -> Settings -> Advanced -> Content settings -> Select Disallow.
- Firefox: Type about:config in the URL bar and then geo.enabled. To turn it off permanently, decline all requests by Firewall in the pop-up windows.
- Safari: Preferences -> Privacy -> Select Disable Location Services.
- Microsoft Edge: Open your main computer settings -> Privacy -> Location. This is Microsoft’s new browser; its settings are inside your computer, not in the browser itself.
It may seem minor, but every piece of information you share online is valuable.
Anonymous web searching
More than anything, Google just loves to collect information about you. The company uses and sells this information to advertisers to better target you for online advertising. There’re two ways you can have better anonymous surfing when you search online:
- Using Google: Go to Settings -> My Activity -> Delete activity by. Now select the date range of the information you want to erase.
- Stop Googling: The absolute best way to get Google to stop collecting your data is to stop using Google. Alternatively, use DuckDuckGo. It is pretty much the only search engine in the world which does not store and track personal data.
Google is a very useful tool with a wide variety of free tools that can be used online. These tools come at a cost though, and that cost is your data being tracked.
Stopping social media tracking
Social media is another one of those free online tools, but it comes at the cost of your anonymity. Every single social media site out there has some sort of tracking for advertising purposes. Good thing. these sites are only 99% evil; they will still allow you to turn off this tracking:
- Facebook: Go to Facebook Settings -> Ads -> Ads based on my use of websites and apps -> Edit -> Choose Settings -> Off.
- Twitter: Access Settings -> Security and Privacy -> Uncheck the box for “Tailor Ads.”
- LinkedIn: Go to Privacy and Settings -> Accounts -> Managing Advertising Preferences.
These popular social media tools are useful, but they are not going to do anything to help you with anonymous web surfing. They just love to track and store your information.
Anonymous web surfing tools and tactics
If you are sure that it’s impossible to have some sort of online anonymity, I hope that the simple tools and tactics above have shown you otherwise. Be sure to have your VPN on, and use an anonymous browser. If you do these, you’ll be well underway to having greater anonymity on the web.