Using the internet means potentially exposing your identity to hackers and cybercriminals. But is there a way to hide your identity while working, browsing, or shopping online? We discuss this topic here.
Without a Trace – Truly Hiding Your Identity Online
Successfully hiding your identity while using the internet means leaving no traces of your data for a hacker or cyber thief to find. This means taking effective precautions to minimize the risk of your identity being compromised.
There are ways you can keep your identity hidden online without spending money on security programs or other software. These include ways to mask your IP address, keep your searches hidden, and make sure none of your personal information stays on the web.
Identity Privacy is Very Important
Having your personal information on the web means companies, hackers, or social media websites can sell or leak your info to other parties. This can lead to identity theft, spam, or even financial loss.
Browsing the web anonymously is alone an effective way to keep your identity secret. If you never enter your information into sites or share it with anyone online, there is little chance they will find out your home address, IP address, or target your devices with ads.
Using a VPN is a very effective way of doing this, as it hides your true IP address from any attacker.
Remove Any Personal Information From The Web
If your personal details have ever been stored on a website, they are searchable and anyone can find them. These include your home address, email address, age, name, relatives, etc.
There may be no way to completely delete your personal information from the web because each website is open to the public domain. However, there are ways to remove much of it. This can reduce the risk that any of your personal information will be used against you.
Remove And Hide Your Search History
Your web search history is accessible in your web browser which means anyone who has access to your device or computer can see it. This includes all websites you have visited, your bookmarks, and even your passwords from autofill.
Google will keep you searches logged and you can delete this anytime very easily.
Making it a habit to regularly clear your browser history and cookies is a good idea. However, this means having to log in to each open account that you use regularly, such as email. You can also use the browser’s private mode and secure it with a password.
Setup A Junk Email Account For New Accounts And Spam
If you rely on the internet for daily living, you are likely going to have multiple accounts for different products and services. For each new account, consider using a junk email account to handle any spam messages that might result. In this new junk account, make sure to have it not resemble your actual identity in any way.
This second (or third) junk email account can protect your other accounts if one is ever hacked because the others use a different email address(s).
Some email services offer temporary email accounts for this purpose.
Use a Username and Password Generator
There are services you can use that provide usernames and passwords for new accounts that bypass the need for creating your own. This is useful for preventing spam and the annoyances of the account setup process.
The legality of Using Junk Email For Site Registration
There are potential legal issues related to giving false personal information for website registrations. So, make sure to only give truthful details on government and financial websites. However, giving a junk email account for an online form is entirely legal.
Do Not Use Your Actual Payment Information
Your actual payment information can be stolen or used for criminal activity. So when possible, avoid using your actual bank or credit card information to make online purchases. Instead, try using online payment services such as Paypal to pay for goods with cash transfers.
Alternative Payment Methods
There are alternative payment methods you can use to keep your real financial details private to make online purchases. These include using:
- Gift cards
- Prepaid cards
- Virtual debit cards
- Online money transfer (PayPal)
- Mobile payment apps
RSS Feeds Can Help You Stay Hidden
Instead of subscribing for website notifications to stay up to date with new information, consider just accessing the site’s RSS feed. These are easy to find by locating the RSS icon somewhere on the webpage. This also has the added benefit of preventing excessive ads from following you around the web.
You can also have RSS feeds emailed to you so you can skip logging in or opening up any new websites.
Remove Spyware From Your System
One type of application that monitors your online activity is called spyware and can infect your system through various vulnerabilities. These can harvest information from your files, photos, and web search history. In fact, no personal data is off-limits to spyware once it gets access to it.
You can download free or paid-for anti-spyware applications to remove spyware from your computer.
You can also pay careful attention to the kinds of files you download from the internet. This will help you prevent spyware from installing on your system by accident.
Maintain your Privacy Settings On Social Media
Each social media site, such as Facebook, has privacy settings that can allow the user to have control over the level of personal information available for others to access. Not setting these to maximize your privacy can potentially put your safety at risk.
Always Log Out Of Websites
Make sure to log out of websites that have logins. Leaving the site open can expose your personal information to anyone else who uses the computer. Also, never have your browser save the website log in the details. This includes logging out of social media, banking, and email accounts when you are finished using them.
Clear Your Cookies
Websites record your information via cookies that allow you to skip logging in or to remember your preferences. However, they can also be used to track you, putting your privacy at risk. You can delete cookies in your web browser’s Tools or Safety settings. You can also choose which ones you want to allow on your system. Doing this will not completely protect your privacy, but it does help.
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are great for hiding your IP address while using the web. These are used by individuals at home as well as employees at major companies. There are many free and paid VPNs available for download. Make sure to look for a VPN that does not log your data on their servers.
For more information, see our post Do VPNs Work?
Hiding your identity while you use the internet is entirely possible, but may require paying for special monthly services. These may be worth it as having your identity stolen can cause major costs in terms of time, money, and peace of mind.