Browse The Web Anonymously
How to Browse the Web Anonymously – Lifewire
Untraceable web browsing prevents or severely limits others from knowing what you’re doing on the internet. While staying truly 100% hidden is next to impossible, you can employ several techniques to remain as anonymous as you can, and you don’t even need to significantly change how you interact with the internet to make it happen.
Normal web browsing leaves your information exposed to the website owner, your ISP, the government, and whoever else can gain access. Fortunately, there are several privacy tips you can adopt to use the internet with a little more stealth.
Why Browse Anonymously?
The answer might be different for everyone, but for most people, it boils down to privacy.
If you’re looking for a new job and would rather your employer not know, being more aware of your online presence can help limit what they can learn about you. Or, maybe you’re searching for prescription drug information, and you don’t want the website to track you or collect your real email—spamming your email isn’t as helpful to them if it’s not your “real” account that you check every day.
Anonymous web browsing can also be useful if you’re in a country that has constraining web policies. You can hide your browsing habits to bypass access restrictions.
If for no other reason, maybe you just want to feel comfortable knowing that your internet habits aren’t being tracked and logged for advertising purposes.
Anonymous Browsing Options
There are several things you can do to stay anonymous online, but some methods are better than others. Follow these steps to become the ultimate anonymous browser:
These are ranked in order of strength of privacy and ease of use. You can use one or more of them if you wish.
Hide your IP address with a web proxy. Not all proxies are created equally, but there are several free ones that are great for browsing the web anonymously, such as Hidester.
When you access a website through a proxy, what’s happening is that all the traffic is routed through a remote server before the page is downloaded onto your device. This means that your browsing appears to anyone who may be watching (the website you’re on, your ISP, the government, etc. ) to be originating from that server’s location instead of your real location.
Connect to a VPN. A VPN is similar to a web proxy, but useful in situations where you want everything encrypted and routed through other servers, not just one website. A VPN keeps not only your browsing anonymous but also any file sharing, messaging, etc.
Something important to look for when choosing a secure VPN is whether they keep logs pertaining to your visits and your search history. If they do, there’s a chance that they’ll give up that information to an authority figure if demanded, or that your private details will be leaked if a hacker gets a hold of it.
A VPN will only keep you as anonymous as you let it. For example, posting things to your public social media accounts, sending emails from your primary email address, etc., will expose your identity despite the fact that you did those things while using a VPN.
Use a privacy-minded web browser. One example of an anonymous browser that hides your web surfing habits is Tor Browser, which encrypts the traffic and routes it through multiple servers.
Search the web with a secure search engine like DuckDuckGo or Startpage, which promise to block advertising trackers and keep your search history private.
Other search engines might tell the websites you’re on what you were searching to get there, or share your habits with third-party companies to target you with ads, or disclose your search history to government authorities.
Which Search Engine Should You Be Using?
Avoid public Wi-Fi networks like in hotels and restaurants. It’s unclear who’s monitoring the traffic from the other side of the building, or what’s going on behind the scenes when it comes to that business’s security and privacy protocols.
In the same vein, don’t connect to a Wi-Fi network unless it’s using a modern encryption method like WPA2. To stay anonymous on Wi-Fi, make sure the network is using encryption.
Use your web browser’s private mode to prevent it from keeping track of the web pages you visited. Just close out of it when you’re done to prevent saving any passwords and history.
This anonymous browsing mode is helpful if you share your computer because the alternative is to use regular mode which does store a history of the pages you’ve opened and searches you performed.
Be mindful of cookies, and delete them if necessary.
Cookies are important for storing login information so that a website can give you access to your online account. However, other websites might be able to access them to expose who you are and what you’ve been doing online.
Other Ways to Stay Anonymous Online
Web browsing is just one facet of the online world. If you use email, a web-based texting service, a file transfer website, etc., you’ll need to consider how to stay anonymous there, too.
Use a secure email provider like ProtonMail, an anonymous email service, or a disposable email account.
The cloud storage service you use should promise zero-knowledge encryption.
Refrain from using your real payment information when shopping online, and instead opt for virtual cards from a service like Privacy or Blur.
Log in to a website with an account sharing service like BugMeNot to avoid attaching your personal details to the profile.
Stick to anonymous social networking sites.
Avoid instant messaging apps that don’t support end-to-end encryption; good choices include Signal and WhatsApp.
Set up your phone with a fake GPS location to fool apps and websites that use location tracking.
Delete your personal information from the internet, which anyone can use to dig up information like your phone number, address, relatives, etc.
Send texts anonymously with a website like Text’em.
Switch up the DNS servers you’re using; opt for a company that won’t log DNS queries, such as the Fourth Estate.
Make calls with an app that gives you a second number that isn’t tied to your real name.
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How to Completely Disappear From the Internet | PCMag
Some might say the internet was built on anonymity, paving the way for a place where free speech reigns supreme. But after years of learning about who’s snooping into everything we do online, privacy on the web is hardly a ‘s not just about government spying; it’s also about how much data big companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have collected in order to serve up targeted ads—not to mention how much of your personal data gets scooped up in all the breaches and are always going to be good reasons for people to go online without being tracked. For one, anonymity may be the only way for a real whistleblower to reveal corruption, considering how some have been treated. But there’s nothing wrong with wanting to stay anonymous, no matter what you’re it even possible to take control of your own personal privacy online? Ultimately, the only way to stay truly anonymous online to go online at all. That’s not a real option for most of us, though. Here’s a rundown of what you can do to minimize spying, targeted ads, and ID theft as you explore the online world Your SystemPhone Call ConfidentialityIf you want to be anonymous, forget about using a smartphone. The big-name mobile OS makers are control freaks (Apple) and ad servers (Google). To be anonymous when you use a phone, your choice is a prepaid phone, aka a with a burner, call records exist, so your location can still be triangulated via GPS and tower locations. As you’ve seen in movies, though, you can always throw the phone into a passing truck and lead whoever might be tracking you on a wild goose chase. The upside of a burner is that your real name isn’t associated with the when you already own an expensive smartphone, buying more hardware is painful. Thankfully, there are apps aplenty to get you temporary, anonymous numbers you can use with Android or iOS. (One of those apps is named, aptly, Burner. )Light That FirewallIs your desktop or laptop computer connected directly to a broadband modem? That’s a very bad idea. Hackers are constantly bombarding IP addresses to see if they can get onto a should always have a router on your home network that can mitigate attempted hacks with its built-in firewall. A router uses network address translation (NAT) to assign an IP address to every device on your home network: those are then only visible on that network. Direct attacks can sometimes be stopped dead right there. You need the router anyway, for sharing the internet connection and Wi-Fi. Even a router that comes integrated into the modem—the kind you get from your ISP—is better than no router at could also use firewall software that’s installed on your PC. Windows 10 comes with a pretty decent solution called—you guessed it—Windows Firewall. You can also find firewalls as part of security suites. But as PCMag’s Lead Analyst for Security, Neil J. Rubenking, explains, you don’t really need another firewall if you use the one that ships with real anonymity based on your OS, stop using Windows or macOS on the desktop and move to a Linux distro that specializes in all forms of keeping you secret. Your best bet is Tails: The Amnesic Incognito Live Your Own StealthWhat does your computer (or tablet or smartphone, for that matter) give away about you when you visit websites? At the very least, a site knows your IP address (and that’s necessary; otherwise you’d get no results) most cases, it also knows your approximate physical location (by checking where your ISP supplies those IP addresses; see it in action at IPLocation) and probably your time zone and which language you speak—all good info for advertisers. Your browser can also offer up your operating system, browser type, and which versions of software you run for browser plug-ins. It even reports on the fonts you have installed. All this gives your system a unique fingerprint. And as anyone who’s watched Law & Order knows, a unique fingerprint is sometimes all it takes to track you.
If you don’t believe it, visit MyBrowserInfo or for a full report. Then check out the EFF’s Cover Your Tracks tool to see how well your browser and VPN are protecting you. You can use browser extensions in Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Edge to enhance your privacy. The EFF has its own Privacy Badger to monitors sites that monitor you. The Ghostery browser extension blocks all sorts of trackers and advertising on almost all browsers. The DuckDuckGo search engine for privacy also has a similar extension, called Privacy ‘s more, even if you’ve got a VPN—virtual private network—running, as you should (see below), it could be leaking. Here’s how to get yourself back into stealth Surfing
(Illustration: Vik Kay/Shutterstock)
To summarize, using stealth modes, special browsers, and private search engines won’t make you completely anonymous. But they prevent sites from writing info to your computer, including cookies, which can be used to figure out your browsing oxies and VPNs and Tor, Oh MyThe way to ensure outsiders don’t gather information about you while you’re browsing the web is to appear to be someone else in a different location. This requires a proxy server or a virtual private network (VPN) connection—or even better, both. With the right combo, you can not only be anonymous but also surf sites in other countries as though you’re a native. A proxy server—a computer system or router that functions as a relay between client and server—isn’t for newbies, but FoxyProxy can get you started. It works with the major browsers and offers proxy services and VPN services are everywhere. They have the advantage of securing the traffic between your computer and servers and masking your IP address and location. For example, by connecting through my work VPN, sites I visit believe I’m at corporate HQ, although I work from home.
VPNs also double as a way to get access to location-blocked content. If you’re in a country that can’t get the BBC iPlayer or Netflix, for example, a VPN could be your ticket. Netflix, for one, is cracking down on this tactic when it discussion of anonymity online is complete without mentioning Tor. The name comes from once being the acronym for “the onion router”—a metaphor for many layers of is a free network of tunnels for routing web requests and page downloads. It’s not the same as a VPN but might be even more secure for masking your identity. Tor’s supposed to make it impossible for a site you’re visiting to figure out who you are—but does it?
The National Security Agency’s spying controversy leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013 included what some thought was a workaround to identify users of Tor. But it wasn’t that simple. As explained by security expert Bruce Schneier in The Guardian, the NSA actually monitors what’s called the Tor “exit nodes”—the agency could tell users were using Tor but not who the users were. The NSA set up a “man in the middle” attack, pretending to be the site the user wanted (Google, for example), and could send data back to the user that would take advantage of exploitable holes in the browser—not a hole in lesson there: Keep your browsers up to date, or use one of the previously noted anonymizing which company also offers an anonymizing browser? Tor has a browser bundle for Windows (run it off a flash drive to take with you), macOS, or Linux; it’s available in 16 languages. There’s also a Tor Browser for Android devices; iOS users can try the third-party VPN + TOR Browser and Ad Block is not entirely foolproof—the theory is you could still be tracked by someone skilled enough (even if they can’t read what you send). The list of potential Tor weaknesses is long.
A newish browser with a built-in search engine is trying to take some of Tor’s privacy thunder—an open-source project called Brave. As a free download, it’s worth a try, but Brave has already had some issues and is branching into cryptocurrency to change the game on how websites make you’re sensing a trend in that no software can keep you 100% anonymous, you’re paying attention. But these steps are all like a lock on a door: Sure, someone could kick it in—but why make it easy by leaving the door open? Anonymous EmailAs nice as it is to remain perfectly private as you surf, it may be even more essential for your email to be anonymous, to avoid spam or surveillance. The problem is that email simply wasn’t built with security in mind.
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Secure email services exist, of course. They use encryption to scramble what you send and require the recipient to have a password to decrypt your message. Edward Snowden used a webmail service known as Lavabit, which was so secure the government insisted that it hand over the private keys of users. Lavabit, to its credit, immediately shut down to protect its customers. Later, it returned with even more user-forward security features. So be aware that such a service can be compromised. Most will not die to protect you want a Webmail service that’s going to handle encrypted messages, the best we’ve seen is the free PreVeil, which offers secure cloud storage as well as weapons-grade encryption, and it’s easy to use. For more options, read The Best Email Encryption Services and How to Create an Anonymous Email Account.
You might think your Gmail account is safe, since you see that lock icon on the browser and access it with a secure sockets layer (SSL) connection (indicated by in the URL). But SSL only encrypts data as it’s transferred from your device to the is always going to be a problem with web-based services. Some services can provide encryption for those types of email: Virtru is one that’s specific to Gmail running on Chrome. Mailvelope is an extension (for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox) that will secure Gmail,, Yahoo Mail, and more. FlowCrypt is rhaps the smart move is to eschew web-based mail and stick with desktop client software. Outlook 2007 and later has built-in encryption tools, and Mozilla’s Thunderbird has add-ons galore (including many in our email encryption services roundup, like PreVeil) to handle message encryption/decryption. Avoiding Spam, Spam, and SpamBeyond the obvious safeguards—never, ever click on a link in a spam message or even open a spam email—the best way to defeat spam is never to let spammers get your email address. That’s almost impossible, unfortunately, but there are methods to one is to use an alias or dummy email, which works with any service that requires an email address. You might be able to set one up if you own your own domain name. In Google Workplace, for example, you have a primary address, such as [email protected], but you could also use [email protected] as an alias for online sign-ups; messages to the second one can be forwarded to the main address. When spam begins to collect, change or kill that second address. You can create up to 30 aliases per is a little more straightforward: To make an alias, append something to the user name. Turn “[email protected]” into “[email protected]”; Gmail ignores everything after the plus sign. Once the alias in question accumulates spam, filter it right into the trash. Here’s a video on how to do that in Gmail:Yahoo Mail offers Disposable Addresses (under Settings > Security), which are similar—there’s a base name, then a secondary keyword appended, like “[email protected]” also supports aliases, up to 10 per account. Look for Account Aliases under the Account settings. If you have your own domain name, check the control panel at your web host—it’s likely to have tools for creating aliases you need an alias temporarily, a disposable address is very handy. We have reviews of five products that offer disposable email addresses: Abine Blur, Bulc Club, Burner Mail, ManyMe, and SimpleLogin. Note that Abine Blur Premium lets you shop online without revealing your true email address, phone number, or credit card details, and it also manages your passwords. The program received a 4. 5 (outstanding) rating from our reviewer and also comes in a free version. Should you care about security when it comes to social networks such as Facebook? Of course. Facebook isn’t an altruistic nonprofit! It makes money by having lots of users looking at lots of ads. That occasionally means it makes your data available to questionable entities. And you might not want all your “friends” or their extended networks to know your can take several steps to regain some Facebook anonymity. First, on a desktop, go to the Account menu in the upper right and select Settings & Privacy > Settings > Privacy. Click the “Edit” link on every choice on this page to personalize who can see what, who can friend you, and even who can look you up. Make sure your posts are not spidered by search engines. Get as granular as you want—making sure, for example, that old boyfriends or girlfriends don’t see your posts (even the old posts). You can also perform a full Facebook Privacy Checkup.
Finally, inspect your contact info. Go to your General Account Settings, and again click “Edit” next to every entry. Double-check the email address and phone numbers entered. Minimize the list of who has access as much as possible to maximize you want to get out of Facebook entirely, delete your account. Deactivating is a different thing; it leaves your data on the site for your potential return. Go to this page and follow the instructions. It’ll deactivate your account for two weeks, just in case you really, really, really didn’t mean it. After that, it’s gone. But even then, some digital photos may LinkedIn, go to the Settings icon of your face in the upper right and select Settings & Privacy. In the center, select the Privacy about Twitter? Don’t list your website or real email in your profile. Make sure your password is different from that of any other site. That’s good advice across the board, but we know people don’t follow it, so we repeat it a lot. You really should with Twitter, which has had some security breaches. You also have the option, under Settings > Privacy and Safety, to protect your tweets, meaning only those followers you approve get access to them. Protected tweets aren’t searchable or retweetable, and you can’t share permanent links to them with non-approved said, you’re fooling yourself if you think using social networking (or posting anything online) is private whatsoever—all it takes is an “approved follower” to take a screengrab and share it with the you’re worried about getting tracked as you surf, sign out of the above services, as well as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Apple, when you’re done using them. Otherwise, the ad servers and cookies and so forth that are run by those services or their affiliates will pretty much know where and when you go online at all times. Signing out is a pain, because logging back in is a pain—and that’s exactly what the big companies tracking you are counting on.
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How to Browse the Web Anonymously – Avast
What is anonymous browsing?
Anonymous browsing means browsing the web while hiding your personally identifiable information, so you can’t be tracked by advertisers, websites, your ISP, the government, or hackers. While anonymous browsing traditionally refers to hiding your IP address, you should also block tracking cookies and browser fingerprinting to get real online privacy.
Is anonymous browsing the same as private browsing?
No, anonymous browsing and private browsing are not the same. Private browsing refers to using a browser’s private mode, such as Google Chrome’s Incognito mode or Firefox’s private windows. While using these modes, your browser won’t store your search history and will clear your cookies and other temporary browsing data once you close the window — but you can still be tracked, and you are not at all anonymous online.
How to browse the web anonymously
To prevent online tracking and stay anonymous online, you’ll need to move beyond a browser’s private mode. Here’s how to protect your anonymity online:
Define your desired level of anonymity
First, let’s define your desired privacy level. Are you a whistleblower working to expose confidential government secrets? Or are you just trying to see fewer targeted ads? Consider the level of anonymity you need.
Low: I don’t want my partner, kids, or roommates to see what I search for or look at online when they borrow my computer.
Medium: I don’t want advertisers, my ISP (internet service provider), the government, my school, or my employer to see what I’m doing or track me.
High: I need to block advertisers, my ISP, the government, and everyone else. My identity must stay completely hidden.
If you’re looking for the lowest level — meaning just hiding your session cookies and search history from anyone else who might use your computer — then you’ll be fine with private browsing. Here’s how to use it in various browsers:
How to go Incognito in Chrome
How to use private mode in Firefox
How to start private browsing in Safari
For a medium or high level of anonymity, you’ll need to learn a bit about how web tracking works.
Learn how web tracking works
You can assume that nearly every site you visit uses web tracking to collect data about you. And while regulations like Europe’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) or California’s CCPA (the California Consumer Privacy Act) seek to improve data privacy by requiring consent for cookies, they’ve effectively pushed advertisers and corporations into using sneakier forms of tracking.
The main types of web tracking are:
Cookies. Cookies are tiny bits of code stored on your computer by your web browser, and they contain information about your web activity. First-party cookies help websites work properly — they remember your login info, language settings, or the items you add to your shopping cart.
But many websites also contain third-party cookies planted by companies or organizations who want to understand your behavior and preferences to serve you targeted ads. These cookies track you from one website to the next, and they’re the reason you see the same ads for the same products on multiple websites.
IP address tracking. Your IP address identifies you online. It’s how the data you request, such as your internet searches and emails, reaches you. Every device on the internet has an IP address, which also indicates your general physical location.
Websites use your IP address to identify your preferred language and currency. By tracking where you’re from, when you visit, and what you’re doing while there, websites can attempt to predict your future behavior.
Pixel tracking. Pixels are tiny images that are invisible to the human eye, but can track and record what you’re doing. Pixels in emails are used to track whether you open the email and click on any links inside. Pixels on websites, such as the Facebook pixel, let website owners track how you navigate their site, what you buy, how often you visit, and even if you visit the advertiser’s website on different devices.
Device fingerprinting. Originally invented by banks as a fraud prevention technique, device fingerprinting allows companies to track you while circumventing GDPR and similar regulations. This technique runs invisible scripts in your browser to obtain all sorts of data about the device you’re using. That data is then assembled into your device fingerprint. Your fingerprint can identify you out of a crowd with a high level of accuracy — and without needing your IP address or cookies.
All of this information gets compiled into a profile about your interests, demographic categories, predicted buying behavior, and related data. If that weren’t bad enough, data brokers then buy and sell your data — and any time your info gets exposed in a data breach, people can trade your data on the dark web.
Get the tools to browse anonymously
Considering what you’re up against, you should understand why it’s not so easy to become anonymous online. But with a few tools, tips, and tricks, you can get a considerable level of anonymity. Here’s how to surf anonymously with various tools:
Get a VPN, a proxy server, or Tor
First, hide your IP address and physical location. You can do this using Tor, a proxy server, or VPN. You’ll also want to encrypt your data with a VPN to prevent anyone from seeing what you’re doing online.
Avast SecureLine VPN creates your own personal virtual private network, which fully encrypts your connection and hides all your internet traffic. A VPN can instantly encrypt any network, making it an essential tool for protecting your sensitive personal data on public Wi-Fi.
Use a private email service
Are you worried about your communications being intercepted or read? Use anonymous email to encrypt your communications from end-to-end. A privacy-focused email provider like Protonmail won’t ask for personal information when you sign up. You can also choose an anonymous texting service for your mobile device.
Employ specialized anti-tracking software
Now, let’s hide from advertisers. Avast AntiTrack protects your online identity by identifying and exposing trackers, then feeding them fake data to mask your activity and obscure your digital fingerprint. Plus, all your purchases stay hidden, so advertisers can’t target you for personalized ads.
Use a more private search engine
Avoid Google and Bing, which are huge players in tracking and advertising. Try DuckDuckGo or another private search engine instead.
Get a secure browser
Incognito mode on a normal browser isn’t enough, but a dedicated secure browser offers all kinds of privacy benefits. Block online tracking and mask your digital identity with the built-in anti-fingerprinting technology in Avast Secure Browser. Plus, block ads, prevent phishing attacks, and get lightning-fast browsing.
Avast Secure Browser even comes with a free unlimited VPN on mobile, so you can hide your IP address and encrypt your browsing data with just a single tap. And on Windows, you can conduct extra-sensitive activity in the ultra-secure Bank Mode, which prevents trackers or hackers from seeing any traces of what you’re doing.
By combining the tools mentioned above, you’ll easily achieve a moderate level of online privacy. In the market for true anonymity or 100% invisibility online? Keep reading.
Consider security, too
The whole point of special browsers and VPNs is to keep your private information private, right? So while you’re at it, let’s block hackers, too. Cybercriminals are always on the hunt for your personal data, since it can help them unlock your accounts.
Make sure you’re using the best antivirus software to prevent spyware and keyloggers from stealing your usernames, passwords, bank details, and more.
Avoid social media. If you can’t pry yourself away from the hot takes and cat videos, at least make sure you’re not leaking personal info. Tighten up your Facebook privacy settings and reign in your oversharing on Instagram.
Make sure you know the common signs of phishing so you don’t get tricked into sending your personal data to a scammer.
Is true anonymity possible online?
Sadly, no. Though the tools mentioned above will keep you far more hidden than you are now, it’s not possible to be 100% anonymous online. Think about it: At one point, you signed up for your internet service, so they have your name, contact info, and billing info.
The same goes for most of the services mentioned here. To sign up for a VPN anonymously, you could create an email account with fake personal information, and then use that to sign up for a payment service like PayPal that protects your private information somewhat — and then use those to sign up for a VPN. But there’s still a data trail.
True privacy freaks and anonymity-philes can take things to an extreme level, though. To become untraceable, you could try the following:
To use the internet without registering with an ISP, buy an internet hotspot. To prevent any record of you buying it, get a friend to buy it for you, in cash.
As soon as you get online, connect to the Tor network.
From there, create an email account with an encrypted email service using fake personal information.
Then, find a VPN service that accepts payment in cryptocurrency, and sign up for that with your fake email and anonymous payment. Connect to the VPN.
Now you can use Tor browser or a secure browser in private mode to surf anonymously. Even with all of these precautions, a dedicated sleuth (or NSA agent) could still find a way to identify you.
Pretty extreme, right? The above process would also make for an extremely slow browsing experience. It’s what some whistleblowers, journalists, or those living under oppressive regimes have to do.
But for most of us, that type of anonymity is inconvenient and unnecessary. For the best balance of anonymity and convenience, use a secure browser that blocks web tracking while you surf and add a VPN to hide your IP address. You’ll have plenty of internet privacy — but with an internet that’s still usable and fun.
Easily browse securely and privately
While complete anonymity isn’t possible online, you can still take some quick and easy steps to strengthen your online privacy. Not ready to learn how Tor works or buy an anti-tracking tool? Our free Avast Secure Browser is the best way to dip your toes into the online privacy pool.
Get anti-tracking, anti-fingerprinting, automatic ad-blocking, plus security protection against malicious websites and downloads. And with the free mobile VPN, you can hide your IP address and encrypt your connection. Download it today for free — no personal information required.