How to Be Anonymous Online? An In-Depth Guide

Online anonymity allows you to use the internet freely, without the worry of being tracked or hacked. Learn more about being anonymous online and using a VPN!

Being Anonymous Online: How it works, and why you should!

Why should you stay anonymous online?

Think you have nothing to hide on the internet? Think again. Apart from the fact that major companies make money out of your online behaviour, you’re also vulnerable to hackers trying to steal your sensitive data. There’s a lot that could go wrong when you’re surfing the internet fully exposed. Time to learn all about online privacy!

Browsing the web may let you think you’re completely anonymous, but the fact is you’re not. Even when you’re not sharing any personal information, your online privacy is not self-evident. Why not? Because your internet history is linked to your device and IP address.

You can compare your IP address to your home address. It’s a unique number that is tied to your internet connection. Everything you do online can consequently be traced back to this address. And that’s something you shouldn’t necessarily want.

Virtual cash cow

You may think you don’t have anything to hide when you’re online. After all, you’re not doing anything wrong, right? Like most people, you’re not always aware of the importance of being untraceable online. This is why you don’t reflect on internet security and that major companies make big money using your personal data.

But online privacy is not just a big deal for research journalists who want access to blocked websites in oppressive countries. Or for activists and whistleblowers who want to expose corruption or scandals. It is also important for you.

Ever wondered why these Facebook advertisements or Google-search results fit your preferences so perfectly? That’s because internet providers and tech companies such as Google monitor your browsing habits and sell your data to advertisers. They collect your data online, sell it to other companies who in return bombard you with annoying ads.

You would be surprised at how much these corporations know about you. To them, you are an enormous database filled with sellable information. Money is being made from what you do and see online.

Do you really want to be a virtual cash cow for Facebook?

Hackers paradise

And there’s more. Nowadays, we tend to forget how much data we share online. But we should realize we live in a society where we’re almost helpless without the internet. We’re constantly online, feeding the internet sensitive data, such as credit card numbers, credentials for your bank account, business emails, and tax returns.

There’s one problem, though. When you connect to the internet, your data is sent via an unprotected network. Subsequently, it can easily be attacked by hackers. If these hackers get a hold of your data, they can change your passwords, delete sensitive files and create fake accounts. They can also infect your systems with spyware and ransomware, which enables them to continuously steal your data or even block your computer and most important files.

Now imagine you’re a hard-working entrepreneur. Research in the Netherlands shows that one in eight entrepreneurs will at some point have to deal with cybercrime: even the ones who think they’re fully prepared and protected. Like this photographer, who did use security software, but was still hacked. In the process, he lost all his photographs and, therefore, his entire working capital.

Long story short. If you don’t take top-notch preventive measures, hackers can get their filthy paws on your data. And they will if they get the chance.

How to stay anonymous online

There are numerous ways to remain anonymous online. You can try and use nicknames, use an unrecognizable email address, use aliases, or be very inventive in using all sorts of different user names. And changing them every few weeks, of course.

But all those slick tricks pale in comparison with these two top-notch solutions: using an anonymous browser and using a VPN (virtual private network).

A VPN makes an internet connection safer and helps you to remain invisible on the internet. The minute you install a VPN, your online presence is shielded and no one can trace your activities back to your laptop, computer or smartphone. Corporations cannot use your data for their own gain, and hackers cannot intercept your data and delete files, change passwords or infect your devices with malicious software. Sounds like a winner, right?

How does a VPN work?

A VPN is the most powerful online protection tool. It keeps your browsing behaviour invisible and ensures an anonymous browsing experience. When you use a VPN, you’re connected to the internet via a VPN server. This server sends all your data through an encrypted tunnel, which makes your IP address and location invisible to everyone. This encrypted tunnel ensures no hacker can get a hold of your data.

All-access approved

Do you struggle with blocked websites if you don’t want to share your location? No worries, a VPN spoofs your location, which means websites can’t track down the actual IP address and location you’re browsing from. Access to all content approved!

Blocking known threats

Some VPN services also help prevent online threats, making sure you browse the web safely. They block websites that host malware and phishing scams. And block ads on all websites, which speeds up your browsing experience.

Binge that series!

Problems such as buffering drama can also be fixed by using a good VPN, which can be useful when you’re suffering from slow connection speeds during gaming or using YouTube and other streaming sites.

A VPN also gives you access to online streaming devices, in case you desperately want to binge that series without subscribing to Netflix. We’re not saying you should, though. But still.

How it works? Say you love binging shows on Netflix, but you’ve noticed that some of your favourite shows are not available in your country. Then you can use a streaming VPN to change your location. This makes it possible to watch a geo-blocked show on Netflix while you’re actually couchpotating on another continent.

It also works the other way round. Say you’re abroad and not able to watch certain streaming services. Streaming while using a VPN can make it seem like you’re in the comfort of your own home.

Protection from hackers

A VPN offers the best protection from breaches because you’re the only one who has the key to the data in the encrypted tunnel. If a hacker in some way still gets a hold on data, there’s not an awful lot he can do with it. Hackers need to link several data sources to actually misuse them. And that game got a whole lot more complicated when you’re using a VPN.

That doesn’t mean you can never be attacked if you’re using a VPN, however. While a VPN will protect you from malicious connections and websites, it cannot save you from your own mindless actions. You should still be cautious, so don’t throw around your passwords or download any malware yourself. People are and remain the main reason why systems are getting hacked.

Which VPN to use? NordVPN, of course!

NordVPN is one of the most popular vendors around, and for good reasons. We collected some of those reasons below!

  • Security: NordVPN uses AES 256-bit encryption, which is the safest and most secure encryption in the world. There’s almost an infinite number of possible codes a hacker would need to break it. Your data is perfectly safe, as is the data in some government agencies that use NordVPN to hide top-secret information. What’s more, NordVPN assigns you a new key when you log on, as if you’re a brand new user each time. All data and browsing activity from your previous online sessions are completely wiped out: a fresh start, indeed.
  • No logs-policy: while a VPN keeps your internet behaviour hidden to the outside world, your behaviour is still known to the VPN provider, of course. This doesn’t have to be a problem, but some providers use data logs, which means they keep track of your data and even sometimes allow your data to be used by whoever’s willing to pay for it. If you truly want to be invisible online, it’s evident you should use a VPN that maintains a strict no-logs policy. Such as NordVPN. They do not collect and store any logs of the user’s activity.
  • Kill switch: a kill switch is bulletproof security. It’s the last defence line to protect your data against unwanted exposure. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to stay safe online, and guess what? NordVPN has it automatically integrated into its provider. What a kill switch does? When your connection is compromised or disconnected, it blocks all traffic leaving your laptop or computer. This way, there’s no chance for your IP address or DNS requests being leaked. A kill switch doesn’t affect the quality of your connection, so you can easily activate it permanently. A real plus? NordVPN allows you to control which apps are blocked during a compromised connection. This means that the kill switch blocks all risky apps during a VPN connection failure, allowing you to still stay online.
  • Speed: with NordVPN you don’t trade speed for security. Even though all your data remains safe behind a wall of innovative encryption, your streaming, browsing, and gaming speed still shoot through the roof. They have a Quick Connect feature which makes getting online easy peasy. This feature automatically finds you the servers with the fastest speed levels and connects you to them.
  • Leak protection: Leak protection is, of course, one of the most important features of a VPN. If a VPN has software faults or flaws in browser security, your IP address, DNS requests, and all your browsing data will still be out in the open for any hacker to find and use. NordVPN has one of the best leak protection features around, that stops any unwanted exposure.
  • Ad blocker: Yep, NordVPN also has a top-notch ad blocker, which blocks mind-wrecking ads and pop-ups and keeps you safe from trackers, phishing scams, and online profiling. An essential thing to have nowadays and luckily NordVPN has one of the best available built into their app. It even keeps YouTube free from annoying ads that make you wait for ages for pages to load.

So, give NordVPN a try! They offer great value for money and a deals of up to 70% discount.

How to use your NordVPN?

Installing NordVPN is a real user-friendly journey. Their mobile and desktop apps are quick to download and the setup is pretty straightforward. There are only three steps you have to follow, so the whole operation will probably take you less than five minutes.

  1. Download the VPN app: select your subscription and download the app you prefer. If you’re downloading for your mobile phone, just go to Google Play or the App Store and search for ‘NordVPN’. If you’re downloading for your desktop, you go to the NordVPN download page and click Download.
  2. Set up your VPN: when you’re in the main menu, simply tap ‘Sign Up’ to create a new account. Don’t forget to pick a strong password for your VPN account.
  3. Connect to a VPN server: when you’re done signing up, you will be presented with the ‘Quick Connect’ button. This feature automatically helps you find the best available server. You can also click on a country pin or scroll the server list and handpick the server you want to connect to.

That way, you can easily switch locations and always use the servers that suit you best. Don’t forget to add your preferred servers to your favourites list!

Do you want to customize your settings, so your NordVPN works perfectly according to your liking? Then click on the cog icon, where you can easily turn features on and off.

Little piece of advice no.1: always keep your kill switch on!

Little piece of advice no.2: make it a habit of connecting to your VPN every time you start up your device!

Anonymous VPN – to sum it up!

We hope we’ve convinced you of the necessity of a sensible online attitude. Again, you really don’t have to be a whistleblower, a political activist, or a civilian of an oppressive regime to want to keep your identity private. Online anonymity is important for all of us.

Real world

Not just because a good VPN blocks all those annoying ads and pop-ups that slow your internet connection down. And not just because we live in a society where we’re virtually helpless without the internet: we’re almost forced to toss our most sensitive data onto the world wide web, where it’s vulnerable to whoever wants to use it for their own benefit.

But also because there is some sort of beauty in remaining anonymous. In the real world, we wouldn’t run around and share our bank account numbers with anyone who wants to hear. And we would consider it a bit suspicious if some stranger followed us to our home. Let alone if that stranger knew everything about our interests, trials, and tribulations.

That would be creepy right? But in a sense, that’s exactly what happens online. There’s an awful lot you can tell from examining another person’s browser history. Just ask the big companies, they’re doing exactly that if you give them the chance.

Nothing to hide? Yes, you do

Okay. You may have nothing to hide because you did nothing wrong. But that’s not the point. There may come a moment in time in which you dó have something to hide. Something you don’t want to be out in the open, something you don’t want others to know. And it’s your right and responsibility to not let prying eyes see. When you say you have nothing to hide, you essentially say that it’s normal and okay for the government to surveil your online presence. Or for large companies to use every piece of personal data to form a larger profile of who you are. It is not.

And if it’s not about you, it’s about the others. In any case, strong privacy protection is a matter of solidarity. The internet in general, and social media in particular, make it extremely easy to monitor, store and track user data. A lot of people suffer from that.

Let’s make it a bit more difficult. And use a VPN.

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