So, you have some reason to remain anonymous on the net. You open Google, type in something like: “Basics of Internet anonymity” and get some results. One way or another, all the search results offer several basic solutions, including proxy, VPN, Tor, and I2P. These options help to form the basic level of anonymity.
Let’s start with the simplest – Proxy:
- Accessibility – a huge amount of free proxies can be found by simply Googling.
- IP spoofing.
- Lack of any traffic encryption.
- The need to trust the owner of the server.
As we can see, the proxy is able to satisfy your needs when dealing with websites blocked based on your IP, but it does not satisfy basic anonymity requirements.
Next traditionally comes a VPN:
- IP spoofing.
- Traffic encryption (optional).
- Accessibility – there are plenty of free VPNs, but in most cases, they sell your data to 3rd.
- The need to trust the owner of the service.
A VPN is much more preferable than a proxy. It can help to bypass geo-blocks and provide basic anonymity.
There remain Tor and I2P that I put under one point since on average they adhere to the same principle of decentralization of traffic:
- Accessibility – both distributed free of charge.
- IP spoofing.
- Some difficulties in working with the usual Internet.
- Connection speed.
All these options have already been discussed many times. But all of these options are only the first step on your path to absolute anonymity. They can protect you from basic threats, provide access to blocked resources, but nothing more.
The second step is security. So, you have already got onto a certain basic level. Is this really all? Has the all-seeing eye lost all interest in you and does not have the opportunity to find you? No, nothing like that.
Here is an example from real life. In many European and American countries, bank cards without CVV are very common. Often such cards do not have holder’s names and do not have confirmation of transactions by SMS. You may wonder: “How do banks protect the money of their client?” Everything is simple; banks rely on powerful fraud detection techniques.
Fraud detection is a system that records not only the theoretical address determined by IP, but also your screen resolution, model and serial number of the processor, video card, hard drive, determines the local time set on your computer, looks at your cookies and activity on a particular website of a store, bank, etc.
Next, the current user profile is compared to the previous one, and a decision is made whether to make a transfer or not, whether to give access to the account or not. Present-day fraud detection systems use artificial intelligence algorithms more and more.
Let’s get back to anonymity. So, in general, to stay hidden, your task is to deceive such powerful systems as anti-fraud. There are a number of solutions:
- VPN + Virtual machine.
- Tor + Virtual machine.
- VPN + Tor + Virtual machine.
- VPN + Virtual machine + VPN.
- Secure browsers.
Actually, there are more possible combinations. Under Virtual machine I mean a copy of the system running on your computer virtually, looking like an additional window. A more preferable option is to have a virtual machine set on a separate/distant computer (remote desktop).
Advantages and disadvantages of these options:
- The ability to realistically change your user profile. For example, you choose a VPN + Virtual machine. Even if the VPN provider leaks your data, it will be very hard to find you among all users of a particular ISP, since your theoretical existence is represented by a different device (the one you emulate with a virtual machine).
- Difficulty in setting up.
- You still need to trust a VPN provider, Tor nodes.
Further on, secure browsers like Brave are very interesting, but in their own specific way. The creators of such browsers claim that they have included a maximum of personality-changing functions in their products. Some of these browsers support native fine-tuning, some provide a list of ready-made personalities\profiles. However, most of these browsers do not reveal their code to the community, which raises some concerns.
- Easy to set up.
- High level of security (if the browser really meets the declared specifications).
- The need to trust the creator of the browser.
- Sometimes high cost.
OK, the virtual machine is configured. But what if something goes wrong and you were found. What to do? There are some options in this case too:
- Disc Encryption.
- LiveCD Encryption.
Disk/drive encryption is traditionally done using VeraCrypt. There are several alternatives, though. You can encrypt not the whole disc but only that part where your virtual machine is.
For even better security, you can use LiveCD. It has actually been LiveUSB for a long time. You buy a USB flash drive with a metal case, that is at least 16GB and preferably supporting USB 3.0. Now you install an operating system on it, connect to the computer, start the system from it, enjoy it. If somebody comes, throw this flash drive into the toilet, window, nearest bushes, etc.
This is almost impossible to achieve, but it should be noted here too. There will not be a detailed overview of each item, only a list, I think everyone will understand why this is so:
- Do not use services that may compromise you during an anonymous session.
- Do not use services that may compromise
- Use cash, do not use Internet banking, and do not make purchases on the Internet.
- Do not reuse login names and passwords.
- Do not share/publish information that may compromise you.
- Dress and look inconspicuously\unremarkably.
- Go in for sports and maintain yourselves in good physical shape.
- Eat well, do not save on food.
- Do not break the laws.