Protect your privacy, Hide your identity

Today I am going to blog about how to browse the web anonymously. Most of the people think that their identity cannot be found out just by visiting a site since they are not directly giving any. But it is not true. When you visit a website, your IP (Internet Protocol) Address is available to the website which can be used to identify you. When we visit a website, most of the sites keep a log of visit details like your IP Address, Location, Browser, Operating System etc. This is the reason why, you can’t vote twice in the rating systems. When you search Google, they keep a record of your searches for researching searching behaviour. There are many instances when we would like to and times necessary to keep our identity safe.

Worried? Don’t be. There are several methods to circumvent these problems. Some are

  1. Web Proxies – Recently, when Indian ISPs decided to block Blogger, proxies came to the rescue of Indian bloggers and blog surfers. Proxies act as a link between you and the site you visit. When you request a site through a proxy site, your ISP passes the request to the proxy server, thinking that you are visiting the proxy site. The proxy then makes a request to the website you want to view. To the website, it looks like somebody from the IP Address of the proxy server is visiting the site. Also many of the proxies allow you to block cookies and scripts thus giving your better security.
  2. TorOpera – TorOpera is a software bundle that contains Opera, Tor and Privoxy. The main advantage of TorOpera is that it is portable, hence you can use it directly from your pendrive. You can use it directly without installing (which normally needs administrative privilage). Tor can be used to operate network servers so that their exact location is unknown.
  3. JAP Anon Proxy – JAP is another proxy system designed to protect your online privacy. JAP is written in Java and is platform independant, free and was designed to be easy to use. JAP sends requests through a cascade of encrypting mixes (Mix Cascades), run by independant organizations, and thus hides the origin of any connection. Users can select which operator to trust. This is not possible in P2P anonimity networks like TOR, as the anonymisation proxies are also anonymous.
  4. xB Browser – This is another free, anonymous web browser that allows you to surf internet securely and anonymously, bypass firewalls and internet censorship. The biggest advantage of xB Browser is that it requires no configuration or special knowledge and it is also portable. Also, xB Browser is Open Source too.

Some interesting sites

  • Scroogle – Scroogle allows you to search google anonymously. Scroogle randomly selects its IP Address when you search google and also deletes the cookies set by them. Hence your identity and search behaviour is protected.
  • BugMeNot – Many sites have a very bad policy of allowing us to view their contents only after registering with them. BugMeNot is a service that allows you to overcome that limitation. You can get valid usernames and passwords for most of the popular sites at BugMeNot. They also have IE and Firefox plugins.
  • BrowserSpy – BrowserSpy provides us with a lot of information about our computer and browser. You will be amazed by the amount of details you were providing to sites you were visiting, believing that you are anonymous. It can also be used to test whether the tools mentioned above are working or not.

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