How to Stay Anonymous Online in 2022

edited September 6 in Acer Corner

Do you want to browse the internet anonymously? Websites, advertisers, and apps closely track and monitor our online behavior. Your data is a valuable commodity.

For true online anonymity, you'll need more than incognito mode on Google Chrome. You can take seven steps to help protect your privacy while browsing the internet. In this guide, we teach you how to browse anonymously without fear of being tracked or spied on.

What is anonymous browsing?

Anonymous browsing means browsing the web but keeping your personally identifiable information hidden and untraceable from: 

  • Hackers 
  • Governments 
  • Advertisers 
  • Your ISP 
  • Websites 
  • Corporations

To achieve complete anonymity and privacy online, you should:

  • Hide your IP address 
  • Block tracking cookies 
  • Block browser fingerprinting 

Your data is precious as so much of our lives takes place online. Internet privacy and anonymity are vital to all of us - "privacy is not a feature, it's a fundamental right." 

What is the difference between anonymous browsing vs. private browsing?

We often use 'anonymous browsing' and 'private browsing' interchangeably, but they aren't the same.

Private browsing is when you use your browser in secret modes, such as:

In privacy mode, your browser won't remember your search history. When you close your window, your browser will delete cookies and other temporary data.

But these modes aren't entirely private - the websites you visit still follow you. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) still tracks your browsing activity. Finally, if you're using a company computer, your employer can also.

Anonymous browsing keeps your identity separate from your actions. You browse the internet anonymously without being tracked, surveilled, or revealing your identity.

What are the advantages of online anonymity?

There are many reasons you should want to browse anonymously, but the key ones are:

  • Freedom of speech: With online anonymity, you can be safe when giving opinions and posting without fear of recrimination or even government interference. 
  • Data security: Being anonymous prevents hackers from accessing your sensitive information, including personal data, credit card transactions, passwords, and banking information. 
  • Freedom of 'online' movement: Online anonymity allows you to conduct online activities without being judged or observed. 
  • Personal security: Being anonymous online means others don't compromise your safety as you'll be difficult to find. 
  • Fewer annoying ads: You will drastically reduce targeted ads and other spam by going anonymous and private. 

What level of anonymity do you need? 

Before taking steps towards online anonymity, think about which level you need, and plan accordingly:

  • Low: You just want to keep your roommate, parents, or family from peeking at your info when they borrow your device. 
  • Medium: You want to stop advertisers and your ISP from tracking you or stop your boss, teachers, or government from knowing what you are doing 
  • High: You want to block the government, advertisers, and everyone else from being able to monitor your activities.

Knowing your desired level will determine the steps you'll need to take to keep prying eyes away from your business.

If you're seeking the lowest level of anonymity, use private browsing mode as it hides your sessions and search history from others. Read on to discover how to tackle higher levels of anonymity. 

7 steps you take to go anonymous online 

If you want to browse the internet anonymously, there are several steps you can take.

1) Install a VPN to encrypt your data 

Anonymity Level: Medium

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) protects your internet connection and privacy online by creating an encrypted path for your data and protects your online identity by concealing your IP address.

A VPN can instantly encrypt any network, including public Wi-Fi, file-sharing, messaging, and protect your sensitive personal data. Plus, it masks your virtual location by altering your IP address - so you bypass content blocked by your geolocation. 

A VPN service protects you from: 

  1. Third-party tracking 
  2. Targeted advertising 
  3. ISP snooping 
  4. Hacking Attempts 
  5. Internet censorship 

Here's a selection of the most popular VPNs available: 

  • NordVPN 
  • SurfShark 
  • ExpressVPN 
  • CyberGhost

Our VNP Guide will help you choose the right one for your needs. 

A good VPN helps you protect your data and improves your online privacy. When selecting a VPN service, consider whether they keep logs of your searches and browsing history. If they do, you risk them revealing that information to the government if required. Still, you'll need other tactics like Tor to bring you closer to anonymity. 

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2) Use Tor (The Onion Router) to browse the internet 

Anonymity Level: High

Tor is an anonymous browser that can access both regular websites and the dark web and hides your web activity from your ISP. Its mission is simple: "real private browsing without tracking, surveillance, or censorship."

Tor hides your actual IP address, online data, and browsing history by routing your traffic through multiple random Tor servers. However, this comes at the cost of speed, as Tor is notoriously slow compared to other browsers. 

[Text Wrapping Break]Disclaimer:  The dark web can be unsafe, so we advise caution. Acer denies responsibility for any damages resulting directly or indirectly from the use of the information contained in this article.

3) Use a secure private email provider 

Anonymity Level: Medium

Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo don't encrypt your mail 100% end-to-end, so email is fertile for tracking. Encrypted email services aim to stop this with end-to-end encryption and tracking blockers:

  1. ProtonMail 
  2. CounterMail 
  3. HushMail

Encrypting email messages prevents hackers from deciphering them and ensures your email's contents are unreadable to anyone but you. It's so secure that even privacy-oriented email companies can't read your emails because your password can only unencrypt them. Also, ProtonMail allows you to create accounts and communicate with others via email without revealing your real name.

4) Remove your personal information from the internet 

Anonymity Level: Medium

Most internet users don't realize how much of their personal information is readily available to anyone who knows where to look. From your home address to your date of birth, there are many ways for someone to find out more about you than you might be comfortable with. 

Everyone's different, so you must take a pragmatic and systematic approach to scrub your personal information from the internet. 

5) Use a privacy focused search engine 

Anonymity Level: Medium 

Most of us use popular search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing. But these search engines track what you search for, where you are, and even what type of device you are using, raising some serious privacy concerns. But there are alternative search engines that respect your privacy: 

DuckDuckGo  

DuckDuckGo, unlike Google Search, doesn't allow targeted advertising and keeps your search history private. Instead of displaying personalized search results, everyone sees the same results.

StartPage 

StartPage values privacy and bills itself as "the world's most private search engine." It uses Google Search results but removes all trackers and doesn't store your personal information or search data. Anonymous View is a proxy service you can use to browse the web anonymously.

Each one offers much better privacy than most search engines to set your mind at ease. 

6) Use Tails OS to leave no trace 

Anonymity Level: High

Tails is a portable operating system (OS) that protects against prying eyes and censorship and is excellent for those serious about privacy and anonymity:

  • Activists 
  • Whistleblowers 
  • Journalists 
  • Domestic violence survivors

Download and install Tails on an 8GB or larger USB drive. With Tails, nothing is written on the hard disk and everything runs from the computer's memory. This memory deletes when you shut the computer down, erasing all traces of your activity. It uses the Tor network to encrypt all internet connections. To use Tails, plug in your USB stick, and reboot your machine.

7) Use a temporary email address 

Anonymity Level: Medium

Don't want to register before viewing content, using Wi-Fi, or downloading content. Use a temporary email address to bypass spam and stay safe. Temp Mail generates burner email addresses for free.

8) Change your IP Address via a Proxy Server 

Anonymity Level: Medium

A proxy server also provides anonymity online as it masks your address from others. A proxy server has its own IP address allowing you to access websites indirectly rather than from your IP.

Companies like Fortinet and SmartProxy offer a variety of means for protecting you online. VPNs are often the more popular choice.

"If you're not paying for the product, you are the product."  

In a digital world where our every move is tracked and monitored by corporations and governments, is it still possible to stay anonymous online? The short answer is yes. But it's not going to be easy. These are the different ways you can beef up your online security, protect yourself from cybercrime and help you browse anonymously in 2022. Look out for yourself and follow these steps.

*The opinions reflected in this article are the sole opinions of the author and do not reflect any official positions or claims by Acer Inc.

About Malcolm Archibald: Malcolm is an SEO copywriter that helps businesses thrive. He's passionate about languages and helps companies improve traffic, bring in customers, and build a better web presence.


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