Individual Privacy

How to remain completely anonymous online: With some advanced methods

anonymous person with gas mask

Disclaimer – you are not advised to follow these steps if you reside in an authoritarian or a dictatorship government country or there is a mass continuous surveillance program in your area where internet freedom is heavily restricted. There are various kinds of advanced methods with which one can be almost totally anonymous when they are connected to the internet. In this article we will discuss about how to be anonymous in internet.

A security perspective guideline for works pertaining journalism, private detectors and important/sensitive corporate workers battling with identity theft issues.

Having an anonymous operating system itself

Using a Linux OS to protect your privacy is much easier than IT people may think of it. You got the tools to do so with a special Linux OS called TAILS OS that you can deploy on a USB flash drive. 

Any computer you want to use, you can just plug the USB drive and start browsing the internet anonymously so as to eliminate user tracing.

Note: These hands on didactics can be used for student of all levels, but most are developed with the aid of certified instructors. These are online laboratories, virtual classrooms that help students practice and master skills. Therefore one must completely understand how to use these operating system before actually using it to get the most out of it, as if you use a windows.

TAILS loads up TOR connection when you plug the USB flash drive into any computer and opens up the operating system on your computer. For the operating system, you use the internet in the usual manner. Since you are using an operating system that is not active on a permanent hard drive, there cannot be any traces of any kind of activity on your computer’s hard drive. The TOR encryption ensures that your online activity, including files and emails, remains completely untraceable. Everything you’ve ever done online, on any computer, fits into this very small device that you can only access. This USB drive will be encrypted and password protected so in case you lose this drive the encryption will prevent it from misuse.

You can download TAILS from its organization at any time to make provably secure products. TAILS updates very often to stay with the current updates and keeps itself secured. You will have to check periodically to confirm there is a recent update to ensure no traces of the program remain on your flash drive.

Whonix operating system

The Whonix distribution is a Debian-based Linux distribution designed to remain anonymous by using Tor and VirtualBox.

Whonix computer operating system is composed of two virtual machines: a dedicated Whonix gateway and a dedicated Whonix workstation both interconnected with an annonymous network. The gateways works exclusively with the Tor network, while the workstation works with a completely isolated network. 

Applications inside Whonix cannot access the Internet without a Tor Network.

Any computer on the local network cannot see that Whonix is being routed through a Tor connection which means the local IP address of Whonix is not detectable by the other computers connected on the same network.

The time zone used by Whonix cannot be tracked at all, it is always set to UTC, and the embedded time stamp in the HTTP request headers are sent to random Internet web servers.

The user has the flexibility to configure the OS so that all web browsing traffic, first(the upload data), goes through the direct VPN connection, then through Tor, and then data coming back(download data) through the direct VPN connection after being passed through the Tor and a vice versa config is also possible.

All communications with the local network can go only through Tor. The only local access protocol available to whonix OS is Tor. All traffic, all hosts, and all processes must go through the Tor network.

While Whonix is an excellent anonymized system for Internet access, using it on a continuous basis may pose some problems. Whonix is based on the idea of virtualization; thus, you can encounter difficulties while working with external media. For example, if you need to connect a USB flash drive, the initial connection with the flash drive  will first go through the main OS which is Windows or the main Operating system you are using, then finally reach the Whonix system, and it is not a safe way.

Find about additional identity theft protection measures over here.

Vulnerabilities with email accounts

While you can use an anonymous operating system but dealing with emails becomes often much tricky. There are 2 ways of tackling 

this situation.

The first option is to use an alias. An alias is like a forwarding address. When people mask their real email address with a forwarder, anyone will only know the alias or the forwarded email address and the actual email address of the user is not exposed.

Another way to do this is to use a disposable email address. These offer temporary mail services that delete emails after a certain period of time. You can use them to produce fake mail addresses upon signing up for a particular time on a site that you don’t wholly trust. The email address is expected to be temporary, so you don’t want to end up inundated with spam emails. 

If for now you are not interested in the technicalities of the Whonix and TAILS operating system there are some other ways by which you can protect your identity while connecting to the internet.

if you think your device is compromised check out my article over here.

Change your MAC address

Your MAC address is a unique identifier that your computer has to deliver to your router on a periodic basis. When you connect to a publicly accessible Wi-Fi spot, your computer broadcasts its MAC address to announce your presence, so that you can seamlessly connect to other users of the Wi-Fi network. At any given time, your ISP and Wi-Fi administrators may be able to monitor your MAC address. Therefore its also a great idea to change your MAC address while connecting to the internet. You can use MAC address spoofing to hide your activities on the network by completely replacing your original MAC address.

Search Engine accounts

Also its noteworthy to know that if you are using all of the above method and still browsing the internet via google bing yahoo with your regular email account signed in or with any email account with their respective search engines there is no point in putting so much effort as described above. Since you are browsing the internet with already signing in to your account it doesn’t matter if you change your IP or use a VPN or a Tor network you are still getting recognised.

Using a public WIFI internet

Use a public WIFI internet because even though you are good at using all of the above methods still all of the connection to the internet is through your ISP. Whether its a fiber optic broadband connection or your cellular data network your ISP is still in your way towards becoming completely anonymous. But also when browsing the web on a public Wi-Fi, never connect to an open network when using personal data pertaining to your own identity. Hackers often set up malicious Wi-Fi networks that look similar to legitimate ones specifically to steal information. Even if you believe you are on the web using a legit network, someone can be running a sniffer or deployment tool that can listen in to your connection. An improved security technique would be to spoof your IP address first, or connect to a VPN, and then to a TOR network through your browser.

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1 Comment

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