Virtual private network

How to Browse the Web and Leave No Trace

On today’s web it’s hard to set a (digital) foot online without it attracting dozens of trackers and log entries, as companies look to learn everything about you and sell that data on to advertisers. To hide you’ve got a few tools at your disposal, many of which we’ve talked about in the past, and all of which add up to a largely anonymous browsing experience. What we can’t do is promise 100 percent that you won’t be tracked—we’re not privy to the inner workings of the FBI or your employer’s IT system—but this is as much as you can do.

Step 1: Going Incognito

Every browser has some sort of private or incognito mode: When you close down an incognito tab, it waves its hand, Jedi-style, to convince your computer and the web at large that the browsing session you just finished never actually happened.

None of your incognito-mode website visits are saved in your browser’s history, and searches aren’t stored either (at least in the browser—if you signed into Google before searching, they may be logged in the cloud).

Cookies and other types of local tracking data are wiped as well, so if you visit a news site in incognito mode first, and then in a regular tab, that site won’t have any knowledge of your previous visit—unless, as with Google, you logged in somewhere.

If you want to stay anonymous online though, incognito mode only really keeps you anonymous as far as your local computer goes. Your internet service provider (ISP) can still recognize your computer and the sites you’re visiting, and so can your employer, government agencies, and anyone else who might be listening in.

Sign into any site, though, and your cover is blown. Not just for that site, but also to any other partners that it shares data with. Facebook, Google, and other firms track you across multiple sites, so even if you only log into one account, other connected accounts can still be tracking what you’re up to online.

Incognito mode is best used when you want your browsing activity to be invisible to other people who use your computer, or who steal it, or who sneak on to it. It’s useful, but to be well and truly anonymous, you need a bigger cloak.

Step 2: Tunneling Out Via VPN

Enter the VPN or Virtual Private Network program, one of the best tools you’ve got when it comes to staying anonymous and safe on the web. It’s particularly useful when you’re on public Wi-Fi, because it encrypts the data coming to and going from your computer.

Whichever VPN you choose and install—and we’d recommend…

How To Maintain Your Privacy Online

online privacy
online privacy

Threats to online privacy seem to grow every day so make sure you know how to protect yourself. There are a lot of things you can do to stay safe online. Unfortunately, not all of them are guaranteed to work.

Clearing your browser history, for example, can’t really do anything. Installing an ad blocker won’t get the job done, too. If you really want to protect your online privacy, here are the things you need to do.

Use secure passwords and usernames

It seems so convenient to just use the same usernames and passwords for every site. That way, you can remember them even without writing things down.

But, consider this:

If you use an easy-to-guess password for your social media and use the same one to log in to your bank, you’ve just made it super easy for someone to gain access to your bank account.

To protect yourself, choose passwords that are at least eight characters long and make sure they contain different types of characters. Use numbers, capital letters, lower-case letters, and symbols. Change your password for every site you frequent, too.

Use a password manager

The next step in password protection is to use a password manager. It’s an app that can generate crazy-long passwords that you couldn’t possibly remember. It encrypts not only your password but also your security questions and their answers, your credit card numbers and their PINs and other vital security information.

Now, all you have to remember is the password to your password manager.

Don’t click on the link

You know better, right? So, why do you click on those links you get on your email?

Usually, it’s because the email came from someone you trust. However, what if your friend clicked on a malicious link? Your friend’s entire address list could have been hacked and that includes you.

As much as possible, don’t click on suspicious links, even if they came from people you trust.

Lock down your social networks

Sure, those warnings that pop up on…