In this online era, most people are using the internet for their work to be done with ease. But at the same time, we are exposing ourselves to the online world like when we are connecting our smart devices to the internet, the ISP (Internet Service Provider) is assigning us a unique digital identity, called the IP address.
The IP Address contains most of our personal to professional information, like our exact location (with latitude and longitude), our device info, our internet service provider, etc.
Moreover, these days hacking and data leaking is more than common, lets take an example of the latest happening with the MobiKwik Payment service, according to a security researcher, “more than 11 crore Indian cardholder’s cards data including personal details & KYC soft copy allegedly leaked from the company server.”
So, technically we are not safe in this online world/era, but we can do a few things that will ultimately help us to hide our original identity while surfing the internet.
Basically, we are going to surf the internet anonymously by hiding the IP address assigned to us while connecting to the internet.
Why should we use internet anonymously?
The answer to this question may be different for different types of users/consumers, but the ultimate conclusion to all the answers ends with ‘Privacy’.
We all love our private space, no one wants their personal information to be showcased online freely. So, we surf the internet anonymously, as we love our privacy.
There are many benefits for surfing the internet anonymously as well,
- Your identity will be hidden from the online world,
- You can surf geo-restricted websites (when using VPN),
- You can access ISP blocked services and websites.
Healthy Disclaimer: We can’t be 100% anonymous while surfing the internet, but there are few practices that will make sure that we are not 100% exposed as well.
How to use internet anonymously?
We are going to talk about a few practices that will help us to surf the internet anonymously on both smartphones and PCs.
Methods 1: Using VPN
This is the first and most effective way to surf the internet anonymously. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, as the name suggests, it creates a private network to tunnel all the traffic through that network, perfectly hiding our personal information and identity.
It hides/masks the original IP address assigned by the ISP and replaces it with its own IP address (basically with the server you’re connected to).
For example, if you are connecting to a US server but you are residing in India, then the IP address will reflect your location as the United States.
Premium VPN services provide good numbers of servers and balance the internet speed, whereas free or cheap VPN providers have a limited number of servers, and most of the time we don’t get proper internet speed.
Also, Read: Top 5 Best VPN Available Right Now
Personal Advice: All premium VPN providers allow you to connect to the server via their native app (recommended by them) or manually via PC OS settings. We recommend you to connect via configuring the VPN manually, as it is safe, and it doesn’t require any extra application to depend on.
Also, Read: How to Manually Add VPN Profiles on Any Device
Method 2: Using TOR Browser
You might have heard many scary things about TOR and Dark Web, but there is nothing to worry about, as TOR is one of the methods to access the Dark Web, so simply using the TOR browser will not harm you in any way.
This is another best, effective, and free way to hide our IP address while surfing the internet.
In simpler words, TOR is basically the collection of multiple VPNs, as we already have seen that VPN routes our traffic via a private network, whereas the TOR uses multiple private networks to route our traffic.
When using the TOR browser, you are definitely safe but you will lose a significant amount of your internet speed and bandwidth, as TOR is routing us from various networks which are going to consume a good amount of bandwidth.
Method 3: Using Incognito Mode
We all know, most (every) web browser collects and stores our browsing data in their database (to provide us a good browsing experience). But we don’t know how that data is being processed. They may be selling our data to marketing companies, etc.
Every web browser has a separate tab called the incognito mode, which basically means that all the cookies and browsing history will not be saved by the web browser. However, you aren’t 100% safe but to a good extend you are not providing your private information like websites you visited, to the web browser.
Method 4: Using Proxy Servers
Proxy servers are made for you hiding our IP address only, but it can be used as an alternative to all the other methods discussed above. Proxy servers actually work as a middleman between us and the targeting web server.
For example, you want to stream a movie from India, but the content is only available in the US region, now if you connect to a proxy server, the server will send the data from a US server (US IP address) to the content platform, the content platform will successfully verify the location and then sends back the accessible content to the proxy server, then finally the content will be sent to you.
Also, Read: Proxy Servers and Tunneling
On Mobile Device
Method 1: Using VPN
As we already discussed in the PC section, the VPN is the most effective way to hide our IP address and surf the internet anonymously. We aren’t to going discuss again the VPN.
Like the PC, on mobile too, we have the option to use the native app as well the manual configuration method. The manual method can be a bit tricky for non-technical users but it is the safest method to connect to a VPN server.
Also, Read: VPN Buying Guide: All You Need to Know
Method 2: Using Private DNS
This is a very effective method to hide our standard DNS, first introduced with Android 9. Google added the feature to get rid of the standard DNS assigned by ISP.
There are a bunch of good and open source private DNS providers like Cloudflare 220.127.116.11 and Google DNS that helps us to hide the data that is being sent to the targeting server.
Now, you might be wondering, what is DNS, DNS stands for Domain Name System.
We are going to take an example to understand the term, when you try to open a website with a friendly URL (like www.google.com), the ISP instructs the phone to connect to the DNS server, which resolves the domain name with the original IP address, and then opens the website.
But while using a Private DNS, the ISP part is replaced by the Private DNS provider, in our case, Cloudflare 18.104.22.168. It isn’t that effective as a VPN but it does a good job.
Method 3: Using Private Search Engines
Private Search Engine, that might a new term for you.
We know, in terms of speed and accuracy, Google is among the best search engine, and we openly use Google as our default search engine as well, but do you know, why Google is among the best, as Google tracks and store most of our browsing and personal data to provide us the best and reliable experience.
But the thing is that Google is storing our data, which is never safe even with Google.
So, to get rid of that problem, we recommend using a privacy-focused search engine. You will get less personalized results, but it better to stay safe and private than top-notch results.
One of the best privacy-focused search engines is DuckDuckGo. You can use the search engine as your default search engine, also you can directly download its app and use it to stay safe online.
[Bonus Method] By Changing ISP
If your ISP is known for handing over customer’s information to authorities, you can always change to one that is more concerned about its customer’s privacy.
In the US, it’s optional for Internet Service Providers to hand over their data to government agencies, however, to stay in their good books the majority of ISPs hand over their data without a fight.
Some ISPs have made a step in the right direction and vowed to put the customer’s privacy first. However, the major ISPs have still opted into the voluntary act of handing over their information to their customers.
If you want to switch to one of the less restrictive providers, learn how to switch broadband providers to break the contract.
Do you know, how we can stay 100% safe online? Simple, without using the internet, but you and I both know that it is not possible in this era, as we are dependent on the internet for most of our tasks, whether it is personal or professional.
So, try implementing the above-mentioned methods on your PC or smartphone to use internet anonymously.