Whenever you connect your computer to the internet, you will share information about your geographical location (via your IP), your computer and the web sites that you visit.
By using the anonymous Web surfing, you will be able to hide your real identity and not reveal some personal information to anyone.
IP Addresses and Cookies
Each computer that is connected to the internet will have a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address. However, in case you are using a router, all the computers that are connected to it will have the same internet IP.
An IP is necessary for the internet to work, as it is literally the address of your computer. The only way a web server can send content of a web page to your browser is if it has the computer’s IP.
However, IP addresses don’t contain any personal information about you but your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can easily know whoever has assigned an IP. However, your name, address etc. will not be revealed by the ISP to anyone. In case you’ve done something bad on the internet, such as hacking, the ISP will most likely give your information and the internet logs to the police, so they can conduct investigations.
The Cookies are another way to track your web surfing. Cookies are some small text files that are saved into your web browser when you visit a website. This file will contain your login information, user preferences, the contents of your online shopping cart and more. The Cookies are designed to save your time when you visit a website for more than one time.
Using Proxy Servers to hide your identity
Whenever you access a website, your computer will send a request to a web server and the web server will deliver the requested web page back to you. As we’ve told you above, in order to do this, the Web server will need to know your IP address.
Well, don’t worry about this, because you can use a proxy server which allows you to use another IP. A proxy server is a server that will sit between you and the internet. So, every page that you load will go through the proxy server first and, after that, to you. This means that the web server will “see” the proxy server IP and it will send the data to it. After that, the proxy server will send the webpage data to you, but it will keep your identity hidden.
The most used proxy servers are the web-based ones. All you will need to do is to go to the website of the proxy service, enter the URL of the website that you want to access and you’re done.
The downside when using an anonymous proxy server is that it each incoming and outgoing page will need to be processed by the proxy server. This means that the webpage might load slower than when not using a proxy server. The proxy server will also try to bypass or delete some suspicious elements, meaning that some page will load with many errors.
Whenever you use a web proxy server, make sure that it is has a positive review, because there have been cases when hackers have set some web proxies in order to collect information from the users. This is because when you use a proxy server, all the information travels unencrypted, which allows hackers to see personal stuff such as: usernames, passwords, credit card information etc.
Setting the Privacy in your browser
As we’ve told you above, anonymous proxy servers are a great way to hide your IP address but there is a lot of information about your web surfing habits that are stored on your computer. However, you can control the privacy settings directly from your web browser.
The easiest way to manually delete the browser history is to open your Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome etc. and delete your web surfing history.
For example, in Firefox, you will need to select the menu button (located in the top-right side)->Privacy->Private Data and click on “Clear Now”. If you are using the Safari browser, you will need to go to the History menu, scroll down to the bottom and choose “Clear History”. In Google Chrome, you will need to select the Tools menu->History, select a recent website that you’ve visited and, after that, choose “Delete history for this day”.
HINT: Keep in mind that the network administrator from your ISP will be able to access your history on the network level, even if you’ve deleted it from your computer. The logs from the servers will not be deleted, which means that your ISP will still have access to them.
And because anonymous web surfing is becoming more and more popular, the latest version of the browsers we’ve mentioned above come with special settings that allow you to surf without being traced. By enabling this feature, you will be able to browse without saving history, cookies, search queries, passwords etc. on your computer.
Do you use proxies while surfing the internet? How do you protect your privacy while accessing websites?