Written by Lucy Wyndham
Staying Anonymous in a World Where Nothing is Private
Whether listening to your favorite radio station, attending concerts on Facebook, or following the journey of a local band, the average American spends 24 hours a week online. Every action you take on the World Wide Web is being logged. From bizarre Google searches to stalking an ex, someone somewhere could know about it. The internet has provided so much value to humanity in the years since its humble beginnings. However, it also holds incredible power for evil. Even if you have nothing to hide, privacy is a basic human right. Protect yours by understanding how information is tracked and then covering your tracks.
How is Your Information Recorded by Your ISP?
Everyone knows that an FBI agent is sitting in a room, watching you through your computer’s webcam. That’s nothing a simple bit of Blu Tack or a Post-It Note won’t solve. However, are you aware that every site you visit is recorded by your Internet Service Provider, or ISP? They do this for financial reasons, using big data to target products at you to help them become really rich. However, this information is stored on a server forever and could be used to blackmail you in future. The only way around this for most people is a Virtual Private Network, or VPN.
Using a VPN
A VPN is a means by which any ordinary internet user can browse the web anonymously. It does this firstly by changing your IP address, so that your location appears in a different place to where it actually is. Secondly, it encrypts the signal sent out by your online activity. This means that anyone listening in is unable to unscramble the message and find out what you’ve been up to. With new EU privacy laws, many websites have become inaccessible from certain areas. A VPN allows you to access location-restricted content from anywhere. If you are a high profile person or researching controversial content, then you could become a target, so a VPN is the simple and free way to stay safely hidden.
Unless you are writing everything down with a pen on paper, then setting fire to and eating said paper, nothing you do or write can be entirely wiped from history. However, a VPN is a good start. It adds an extra level of anonymity, both in terms of your identity and location. It also encrypts any data you send out, making it impossible to be read by nefarious computer hackers.