Most people stay on the Internet every day and send or receive data. These data can be very sensitive and should not be seen or tapped by strangers or thieves. It is also important to remain unknown on the Internet so that your data cannot be used for fraudulent activities. This article is intended to be a small guide explaining how and why it makes sense to remain unknown on the Internet.
- Why is it at all possible to be identified on the Internet?
- How can you hide your IP address when surfing?
- How can one surf anonymously in the browser (keyword Privacy Mode)?
- What data do you reveal about yourself if you surf without protection?
- What are the free ways to surf anonymously?
- What are the options for anonymous surfing that are subject to a fee?
- When should you surf anonymously?
- Is disguising the IP address illegal?
Why is it even possible to identify oneself on the Internet?
Every user who is on the Internet can usually be identified by his IP address. Of course, the name or address of a user cannot be found immediately through this address. The address can, however, be stored in order to personalise advertising or create individual offers, for example. The exact location of the user can also be identified by the authorities on the basis of the IP address. And for everyone there are already free websites with which one can locate an IP address. In order not to allow other people unauthorized access to their own data, the IP address should therefore not be shown while surfing.
How can you hide your IP address when surfing?
It is usually not easy to hide your IP address or not show it to a server and other users. For this reason, the only solution is to change the IP address. This is done by connecting to a so-called VPN server. The data is first sent to the server and then forwarded from the server to the user. This makes it appear to the sender that the recipient is in another country if the VPN server has an IP address from another country.
The sender does not know the real IP address of the recipient, so that the actual user is very difficult to identify. This connection can be made by special software, whereby there are also different add-ons for the different browsers, with which such a server can be accessed. Using a special browser (e.g. the Tor browser) can also hide your IP address.
But there are also enhancements for all common browsers, such as Zenmate, which can redirect the Internet connection with a click via an alternative route to enjoy additional privacy on the Internet.
How to surf anonymously in your browser (keyword Privacy Mode)
As a rule, almost every browser supports a so-called private mode. In this mode, the browser does not store any data, i.e. no cookies and no browser history. By activating the private mode, the provider of the website receives the usual data about the visitor. So the private mode only prevents curious eyes using the same PC from revealing data about the user and his surfing behaviour.
What data do you reveal about yourself when surfing without protection?
The website first and foremost learns the IP address and thus inevitably the approximate location of the user. The website also learns which browser and which operating system the user has installed on his computer. This data is usually necessary to display the website correctly and is therefore also transmitted. This data makes it relatively easy to identify a computer and thus also a user if he or she frequently visits different websites and always reveals the same information.
As a rule, websites can very easily access the following information of the visitor:
- operating system
- Device type (Laptop / Smartphone / Tablet)
- IP address
- Social media login status
- Browser and installed plugins
- Hardware information such as CPU and GPU
With which free possibilities can you surf anonymously?
The completely anonymous surfing can be made possible by a so-called TOR-Browser. This is completely free of charge and can be downloaded and installed easily. The browser conceals the IP address of the user so that the server cannot receive any information about the user. Using a VPN connection can also hide the user’s IP address. Some VPN servers are free of charge, but do not offer a particularly high Internet speed.
Which paid options are available for anonymous surfing?
If you want to surf the Internet quickly despite a VPN connection, you can access the paid VPN servers. A small contribution must be paid so that the user can connect to the server. As a rule, the speed of the connection does not suffer as a result.
When should I surf anonymously?
All data collected from outside can be used in case of doubt or for fraudulent activity against a user. Therefore you should always surf anonymously to prevent such attempts. Fraudsters can also detect relatively easily, for example, when the user is on holiday and his home is unoccupied. Particularly in public WLAN networks, such as train stations and airports, a high value should be placed on anonymity. In such networks, data can be accessed very easily.
Therefore, no important data should be sent in such a network if the connection is completely unprotected. This allows thieves to pick up passwords or credentials and gain access to a bank account or other important account.
Is disguising the IP address illegal?
No, using a TOR browser or a VPN server is not illegal and is not punishable in Germany. This is of course different if the procedure was used for fraud. However, the usual surfing and use of the Internet can still be carried out without breaking the law, even if one’s own IP address remains hidden.