Privacy has become a major concern for Internet users all around the world, thanks to Edward Snowden for creating this awareness all over the world. Now many of you are probably worried if the CIO, your government or your Internet Service Provider are tracking you, or you probably care about hiding your real identity, your physical address or protecting your private data when you browse online.
By Cisco Eng. Shingie Lev Muringi
In this article I will discuss the possible ways that help you overcome all your concerns about online privacy and surfing anonymously. Surfing the web anonymously will help you to leave no browsing history in case someone wants to track what you have been up to on the Internet.
There are 5 tips that will help you browse the web anonymously:
*1- Websites track visitors to serve ads : *websites – log your IP address to find out where you get online from (GPS Coordinates), what kind of browser you use (eg. Chrome, Opera, Mozilla Fireworks etc) , what kind of Operating System you have (Eg. Windows, Linux, MacOS), and more importantly what kind of stuff are you interested to read or buy. They do this to send you specific ads based on your search results. For example if you search Samsung mobile or iPhone on a browser, they log your search history to send you cell phone related ads in future and this can be very annoying. As a result you end up viewing ads related to Samsung mobile phones and iPhones on every page you visit
- Go to your web browser’s privacy setting (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.), click on Cookies section, choose “Keep Local data only until you quit your browser” or “Block sites from setting any data”. Also remove your previous cookies.
- Use search engines that don’t log your search history and don’t save your cookies or don’t relate your search history to your account. Duckduckgo is a good example.
- Use a VPN service to surf securely and anonymously: you can download*Betternet. *Betternet is a free VPN service available on Android, iOS, Chrome and Firefox Extension and Windows.
- If you use Google Chrome, go Incognito. In incognito mode, your cookies won’t be stored at all.
2- Social Media Track where you go: If your device or smart phone is logged into any Social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google +, it makes it possible for these networks and apps to track your browsing history if the websites you visit have social network plug-ins. When you check into places from inside your social media apps, you real location will be revealed to others and to the social media that you use. This kind of information will be also logged.
- Using VPN services such as betternet turns your location off on your smart phone or tablets.
- Also remember to log out of your accounts after using them or when you move around.
- Don’t check in from your device when you go to places.
- FB Likes, and Tweeting also reveal your location, avoid doing so or if you do so, make sure you are connected to a VPN. VPN services like Betternet change your IP address and prevent others from tracking your real location.
*3- ISPs can analyze your network traffic: * They do this to see what you do online, and which websites you visit. They also can easily track what you download from which website and in some cases send you notifications to stop downloading from certain websites that infringe the copyright regulations.
Solution: *A *VPN service masks your identity by giving you a new IP address. It also encrypts all your ingoing, and outgoing data so your ISP won’t be able to see what you are doing. You can use Betternet Free VPN to hide your IP and network traffic.
* **4- Create Profiles under nick names: *If you are afraid of being tracked online by the government, or other people that you don’t want to acquire any information about you, its a good idea to create emails that are not under you real name. If you need access to social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, or Google +, create a profile with a fake name to stay safe.
*5- Safety Measures: *For more security, always:
- Clear your browsing history
- Set strong passwords for all your profiles
- Log out of your profiles after every time you use them
- Do not shop online on websites that are not trusted
- Browse on websites with HTTPS in the browser URL, which is a sign of encrypted connection.
- Always use a VPN when using Public WiFi connections. This encrypts your data and prevents hackers or others from snooping your private data online.
After all remember that complete anonymity is not 100% achievable, so be careful what you do online.
The battle for relevance continues…follow Shingie Levison Muringi our Technology Research Specialist and Sub Editor on Twitter @ShingieMuringi1, Email [email protected] or direct Cell: 0775 380 652 for all the latest trending technological issues in and outside Zimbabwe.