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Remember the good 'ol days when the Internet was crawling with anonymous trolls posting nasty comments on pointless discussion forums? In it's early days,
the World Wide Web was a new frontier inhabited mostly by nerds and shut-ins. Today, everyone is on the web, and that means Big Brother and your
friendly neighborhood hacker is right there with them.
Let's face it; the Internet isn't as anonymous as it once was. It's getting harder and harder to remain invisible while going about your daily business.
There are other so many reasons to protect your identify when you're travelling about the web. The harmless trolls of the early 2000s have grown into
identity thieving hackers. If you're not surfing the web with a little bit of protection one of these guys can easily swipe your personal information.
Activists or other public figures should also consider surfing anonymously. The great thing about the Internet is it's ability to give little people a big
voice. Those little people have the right to protect their identity as well.
Before you can go about surfing the web anonymously you need to understand how someone can discover your identity in the first place. First, your IP address is a unique numerical identifier that is assigned to each
computer within a network. Your IP address could be associated with your Internet Service Provider, and that can easily lead to your name, address, e-mail
or even credit card number! Search engines also regularly store search queries linked to your IP address, and they sometimes save these results for up to
18 months. Someone could easily identify you through your IP address and deliver 20 dozen pizzas to your home. If you love pizza—that's great! If not …
that can totally ruin your day.
Cookies are also a way someone can identify who you are. No, I'm not talking about your grandmother's famous chocolate chip recipe. I'm talking about those
small text files saved onto your browser whenever you view a website. Cookies can contain your login info, your preferences, and even your online shopping
behaviours. Sure, cookies help make your Internet surfing more streamlined, but they're also designed to give advertisers information on your personal
preferences. Now that is a tough cookie to swallow.
Believe it or not, using your favorite search engine is leaving you exposed as well. If your search engine also happens to be your e-mail provider-- you're
leaving a trail of delicious breadcrumbs right back to your identity. Say you have a Gmail account. When you search Google while logged into your Gmail
account, your search results will be associated with the same IP address as your e-mail address. That's an easy way to figure out who you are. Search
engines are constantly tracking your search terms, the time you search, the sites you visit after your search and the government can subpoena that
Now that you're terrified of googling anything-- you're probably wondering how you can surf the Internet anonymously. The good news is there are plenty of
ways to stay invisible on the web. The more precautions you take with your privacy on the Internet the better you'll start feeling.
One of the easiest ways to surf anonymously is by using an anonymous proxy server. When you use an
anonymous proxy server, you don't contact the Web site directly. You tell the proxy server where you want to go. The proxy server then contacts that Web
site, and it's delivered to you by way of that proxy server. The website is left with the IP
address of the proxy server—not your personal computer's! The website is also unable to see your cookies, history, or cache. Just go to any anonymous proxy
server on the web, enter the URL you want to go to, and surf anonymously! One of the most popular anonymous proxy servers isHideMyAss.com. It's a catchy name that gets right to the point. Other proxy servers include Anonymouse, Ninja Cloak, and Zend2.
There are also a few surfing tips you should follow if you want to hide your identity online. You should never use the same username and password to access
all of your online accounts. If a hacker were to get ahold of just one username and password—in actuality, they just got ahold of all of them. You don't always need to use your e-mail address. There are sites that will give you an automatically generated e-mail whenever you
want to log into a site without giving them your identity. Sites like Fake Mail Generator and YopMail are a great way to protect your e-mail address from sites that don't need knowing who
There is software you can download that will protect your identity. Tor is a free service that doesn't just
protect your Web surfing, but it also makes your instant messaging and other applications equally untraceable. The Cloak is also free and it lets you customize how anonymous you'd like to be and what
surfing preferences you want to leave on or off. You can always set up anonymous surfing yourself by configuring your browser to use an anonymous proxy
server that sits between you and the sites you visit.
There are plenty of reasons to hide your identity on the web and there are plenty of ways to do it. Take the time to secure your identity online. You never
know when the wrong move might mean big consequences. The Internet is supposed to be a place of freedom and exploration—why not keep our anonymity while we