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How to Anonymize Your Internet Use
Encryption hides the content of messages, but not who’s communicating. Use cryptographic anonymity tools to hide your identity, on the other hand, and network eavesdroppers may not even know where to find your communications, let alone snoop on them.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and the Tor network are the most well known advances for accomplishing protection while on the web. They cover up what you get up to online from your ISP and therefore the government. They can also hide your true identity from websites you visit and services you use.
VPNs are a suite of technologies that:
- Provide privacy by hiding your internet activity from your ISP (and government).
- Allow you to evade censorship (by school, work, your ISP, or government).
- Allow you to “geo-spoof” your location to access services denied to you based on your geographical location.
- Protect you against hackers when using a public Wi-Fi hotspot.
- Allow you to P2P download in safety.
Note, however, that although a VPN can provide a high level of privacy (if a good no-logs service is in place), it does not provide anonymity.
This is because a VPN provider can* always know what you get up to on the internet. If you require true anonymity then you need Tor provides a very high degree of true anonymity, but at the cost of day-to-day internet usability. When using Tor:
- Your internet connection routes through at least three random “nodes” (volunteer-run servers).
- These nodes can be anywhere in the world.
- The data is re-encrypted multiple times (each time it passes through a node).
- Each node is only aware of the IP addresses “in front” of it, and the IP address of the node “behind” it.
- This should mean that at no point can anyone know the whole path between your computer and the website you are trying to connect to (even if malicious entities control some nodes along the path).
Tor is free, and the genuine magnificence of the framework is that you don't need to confide in anybody. Its design means no-one can discover your true identity.
It can also make a handy anti-censorship tool. However, many governments go to great lengths to counter this by blocking access to the network (with varied success).
It is possible to use Tor and VPN together to provide meaningful security benefits.
Tor is an essential tool for web users who require the greatest conceivable obscurity. VPNs, in any case, are a substantially more handy security device for everyday web utilize.
How to Choose a Virtual Private Network (VPN) That's Right for You
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