There are a number of ways to increase online anonymity, but people who use the Internet have to stay vigilant in order to achieve and retain this state. Some help is obtained by using proxies or software that can block Internet Protocol or IP addresses. Other suggestions have to do with controlling the flow of personal information given out on the Internet through activities like blogging, shopping, or participating in social networks.
Many experts on Internet security note that most people don’t realize when they surf the net that they’re leaking information about themselves at all times. This information can include things like the type of software and hardware they’re using, and a general location, such as city, from which they are connected. Locating information is given through the IP address, which all computers generate when they go online.
One way of achieving greater online anonymity is to search sites through what are called proxy servers. There are many of these available free, although some can be slow to use and riddled with advertisements. When a site is accessed through a proxy, the generated IP address belongs to the proxy and not the individual’s computer. This reduces likelihood that any website can identify a person’s location. Alternately, a number of software programs or packages generate false IP addresses that give no locating information about the computer user. Either of these options protects the true IP address and confers more online anonymity.
Software and proxy servers do the work for the Internet user, but online anonymity cannot be achieved without thoughtful participation of computer users. Many computer privacy experts have suggested that social networks will always strip people of a certain amount of anonymity. Their suggestions for participating in social networks like Facebook® or in other social media like blogging and commenting, include the following:
Never use a real name for any of these sites
Use avatars instead of photos
Don’t sign blogs or comments with a real name
Never give location or family information
Don’t friend people unless certain they are trustworthy
Carefully investigate privacy settings of social network sites and be aware of changes, which occur often.
It’s difficult not to want to disclose more and interact with friends, but the goal of online anonymity is diminished with each piece of information a person puts on the Internet. It’s additionally important to increase anonymity by understanding rules of any banking or shopping sites. Most large retailers on the Internet should also have well-written privacy policies that explain whether they will sell or use consumer information, including consumer shopping preferences, in any way in the future. A little investigation can help people find the retailers or other service sites like online banks that offer the greatest online anonymity. When in doubt, people can still conduct a great deal of business via mail, telephone or at local service providers or retailers.