How to browse totally anonymously for those concerned about internet privacy
By Madison Ruppert
Editor of End the Lie
One must realize that there are so many ways to track and trace you that you really must go above and beyond to stay even close to totally anonymous, especially when your computer itself could get infected and monitored directly.
Recently I wrote up a brief article about ways to fight back against Google’s massive tracking network that has come to be implemented on most of the sites across the internet.
Here at EndtheLie.com we do not use Google ads, analytics, or any of their tracking products, but it is practically impossible to avoid these systems when browsing the web.
Due to the positive response we received regarding the last article, I decided I would give some more information on how to add another layer of privacy to your online activity.
Unfortunately, the government and corporate propaganda has successfully convinced many Americans that they should not worry about privacy as long as they have nothing to hide.
I have nothing to hide but personally I don’t like the idea of Google owning a complete profile of my online browsing habits, who I talk to and what I talk about, and how I interact with web pages.
As I outlined in the earlier article, they do own this information and they can do whatever they please with it. The entire reason services like Google Analytics are free is because they make a great deal of money off of harvesting and collating your information.
For those who are privacy minded out there, additional steps can be taken that I did not go over in the previous article.
One of the easiest ways to add an additional layer of security between you and your connection to the internet is by browsing through a remote desktop.
This requires some money to be spent, so again for those who would rather not or cannot afford to spend anything, I recommend NoScript as an easy way to enhance privacy.
For those that can afford it, remote desktops or RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) servers are a must-have.
It does not take a computer science degree to get a remote desktop set up and working, in fact it is extremely easy.
First, you must locate a Windows Virtual Private Server (VPS) that is in your price range. If you have money to burn, you could buy your own dedicated server but very few people have hundreds of dollars per month in expendable income to do such a thing.
You could use a Linux VPS for a remote desktop but I have never done it as I am not experienced enough with the Linux operating system. If you are able to do so, it would probably be even more secure since Linux is all but totally impervious to spyware and viruses.
The hardest part is finding a good deal on a Windows VPS that has a copy of the OS already installed. I do not want to advertise any hosting companies as I am not up on which offers the best deals and security currently. However, if you need help locating one or determining which company is better I can attempt to assist you with this.
One thing you should look for is “anonymous” or “off-shore” hosting companies. While these might be a bit sketchier and require more research to be sure it isn’t a “fly by night” operation that will take your money and run, these offer even more privacy.
Anonymous hosting means that they do not require any personal information in order to set up your account. This is quite different from companies like Host Gator that not only require tons of personal information but also require that you verify your identity with them by giving over even more personal information.
There are many options out there and I have even seen some companies offering truly anonymous payment methods like BitCoin in order to avoid getting a single piece of personal information from their customers.
Off-shore hosting means that the server is located in a data center outside of the United States. This usually means that the server is located in a country where the U.S. does not have jurisdiction, meaning American law enforcement would have a hard time obtaining your data from the data center.
One must be careful, as there are many countries that will hand over data without even asking why they need it. This is especially true when it is related to copyright infringement.
However, there are some countries and data centers that mostly ignore DMCA requests and would likely deny any frivolous request from an American agency. Often these companies get shut down because the people providing their bandwidth get threatened by giant anti-piracy lobbies like the RIAA and MPAA.
If you’re paying on a month-to-month basis and do not plan on keeping any sensitive files on your server then you can pretty much get one wherever as you don’t have much to lose if the company shuts down.
Locations I would recommend looking into are any Eastern European nations, Panama, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sweden, Russia, China, the Netherlands and Germany.
Russia and some former Soviet bloc nations like Romania are infamous for their internet crime activities. Due to the fact that Russia and many Eastern European nations do not recognize American jurisdiction, spammers and botnets are often located in these countries.
Some of the above countries are also known to offer “bullet proof” servers which are marketed as such because the owner will not respond to any requests from law enforcement or copyright protection agencies. Honestly, I would stay away from such offers because there is a good chance your server could be used in conjunction with others as a part of a botnet or phishing scam.
Basically, any country outside of the United States which does not have an agreement with the NSA in regards to monitoring of internet activity is a safe choice.
Once you have located and obtained your server, the hard work is done.
All you have to do is fire up the browser pre-loaded with the operating system, download Firefox and NoScript and then start browsing.
If you are running the HideMyAss Virtual Private Network client while using a remote desktop you have a huge layer of security between you and the internet sites you browse.
To put it simply you have your computer routing through a remote server (part of the VPN) which then connects to another remote server (your VPS) which then connects to the website.
You could even use a proxy on your VPS so you are going form your computer to the VPN to the VPS to a proxy to the website.
This obfuscates your IP and home computer’s MAC address considerably and anyone trying to track you down would have to spend a lot of time and money doing so.
If you have any questions about internet privacy and how to secure your computer feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]