An anonymous login, also sometimes called an anonymous logon, is a process by which a user signs into a website or online service without a username or email authentication. A password is still typically needed, and this password is often the user’s primary email address. When someone performs an anonymous login, he or she is able to use the service under the name “anonymous,” often followed by numbers to reduce redundant information. While this keeps others from knowing the identity of the anonymous user, it can compromise Internet safety, and the anonymous user is usually barred from using some features. Anonymous logins do still reveal some information about the user, because servers are able to pick up the user’s Internet protocol (IP) address.
Many forums, chats and websites offer a service called an anonymous login. By using this service, someone can still access the forum or chat without having to go through an authentication process, which makes it faster for the user. To sign into the anonymous username, the user will generally have to enter an email address as the password. Some websites use this email address for tracking purposes, while others apply it to statistical analysis operations.
When someone performs an anonymous login, he or she commonly gets the name “anonymous” followed by numbers, such as “anonymous875423.” There are two reasons for these numbers. If a chat or forum were full of several people with the same username, it would be very difficult to know which user is talking, so the numbers serve to differentiate anonymous users. Another reason is to reduce redundant information in the website’s databases, because redundant information can cause problems.
An anonymous login can be misused to compromise the website’s safety. For example, because less information is collected on the user and he or she is not authenticated, it is easier for that user to perform malicious attacks. To mitigate this and to push the user into performing a regular login, anonymous users are typically unable to use some of the chat or forum functions, such as posting websites or images.
The users who perform an anonymous login without malicious intent want to remain unknown either for privacy reasons or because the user does not want others to know he or she is part of a certain website. This is accomplished in to some degree, because other users will not know the anonymous user's identity. In another way, this is a failure, because administrators can check the anonymous user’s IP address, computer information and other data, so the user is not entirely anonymous.