How can you hide your identity online?
You can get the impression that it is getting harder every day to maintain your privacy in the online world. One of the most common problems with this is that your IP address can reveal your location and identity as soon as you dial into the global network.
This can be quite dangerous in case you have to live in a repressive regime. At the very least, it's quite a nuisance for people who just don't see the need to share all of their online actions with everyone. Good thing there are ways to permanently hide your IP address.
VPN hides IP
The easiest way to hide your IP is through a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPN tools disguise the origin of your connection and instead issue a completely different IP address (often freely selectable depending on the country or region). This can also be at the other end of the world, which is why VPN solutions are often used to circumvent regional restrictions (e.g. from streaming services such as Netflix).
In addition, virtual private networks encrypt your data traffic and thus provide an additional layer of security. The Opera browser already has an integrated VPN tunnel, and numerous free and paid solutions are also available.
With Viscosity you can connect to a VPN server, such as a company network, via VPN. The basis is the open source technology OpenVPN, Viscosity provides an easy-to-use interface. Advanced options are also available through the Preferences. The program allows the use of configuration files such as certificates and key files, which makes the program also suitable for inexperienced VPN users. Similar software is the Tunnelblick program, from which Viscosity can import configuration data. Status messages from the program are shown in a separate window that can be called up via "Details". The current version is based on OpenVPN 2.1, the US $ 9 app is available for Windows and Mac.
- Torguard VPN
Tor Guard from the UK has some interesting features to offer, for example the provider also offers encrypted e-mails and an anonymous proxy service for users of Bittorent services. However, all three services are chargeable and not even a free test is possible. The service, which costs EUR 60 per year, offers servers in over 42 countries, a license for the Viscosity VPN client is included. The service is available for Mac, PC, iOS and Android.
- Spot flux
You can test the inexpensive American Spotflux for a short 3 days, after which the mobile user has to pay 30 US dollars a year. The annual subscription for up to five devices costs 38 US dollars. Automatic data compression, which reduces data consumption, is interesting with Spotflux. This is particularly useful for mobile users. The USA, Germany and England are supported, and operation is easy. The download speed is very mediocre in our test, but the upload speed is excellent and the latency is also very good. Apparently downloads are being deliberately slowed down. The service is available for Mac, PC, iOS and Android.
- PC-Welt Anonymous Surfing VPN
The PC world also has a VPN app on offer. The offer available for Windows, iOS and Android offers 500 MB data volume per month free of charge, for 50 euros per month this limitation is no longer applicable. The tool offered in cooperation with Steganos can also prevent social tracking, anonymize the browser type and automatically remove cookies.
Cyberghost (the Android version can be seen here) is one of the oldest VPN clients and actually comes from Germany. For legal reasons, however, the company's headquarters are now in Romania. Unusual: There is a free version, but only slow and busy servers are available. For 5 euros a month or 50 euros a year, on the other hand, you get access to 300 servers in 24 countries. The service is available for Mac, PC and Android. The iOS version is currently not available.
- VPN Unlimited
The service provider VPN Unlimited (the Android version can be seen here) comes from New York and supports 33 countries. The parent company Keep Solid is still relatively young, in addition to the VPN app, there are a number of iOS apps. The pricing system at VPN Unlimited is sophisticated. Among other things, there is a 3-year subscription, as well as Aobs for 3 months, one year and the “Vacation” tariff for 10 days. At 24 euros per year, the solid service is quite cheap. The service is available for Mac, PC, iOS and Android.
Surfeasy is not only very successful through viral marketing. The VPN app, which is very popular on Android and iOS (the Android version can be seen here), offers only 500 MB of traffic as a free basis. By installing it on other devices and making recommendations, you can quickly increase this traffic to over one GB. The Canadian company was recently acquired by the browser developer Opera. The upload and download speeds are very good, but the latency is quite moderate. The service is available for Mac, PC, iOS and Android. An annual subscription costs 50 euros.
- Avast Secureline
Security is the focus of Avast's VPN offering, and the Czech Republic location is a good place to start. On request, Secureline automatically offers a VPN connection if it uses an unencrypted WLAN network. Attention iOS and Mac users: Only the Android and PC versions can access all thirteen servers listed. The result of the performance measurement is quite changeable. The download rates fluctuated very strongly, between a good 8 Mbit and a first-class 21 Mbit. The latency is very good for it. The desktop version currently costs 60 euros and the mobile version 20 euros per year. The service is available for Mac, PC, iOS and Android.
A VPN service based in the USA and well known there is Vyprvpn from Golden Frog. The service can score points for its performance. When measured, we achieve excellent values for downloads and uploads, and the latency times are also good. A technology called Chameleon should even be able to block metadata, and there are also versions for routers and even smart TVs. The service is available for Mac, PC, iOS and Android. With Cyphr, the company also offers an encrypted messaging app. At 8 euros a month or 56 euros a year, the service is quite expensive, so you only get support for OpenVPN, L2TP / IPsec and Chameleon from 80 euros a year. The basic version only supports the insecure PPTP.
- F-Secure Freedome VPN
As an additional protection, the service of the antivirus software company F-Secure blocks the tracking services of advertisers and warns of websites known as malware slingshots. F-Secure also wants to anonymize search queries that search engines like Google save and assign to users. To do this, the tool opens a special F-Secure search page. This is based on Google search and can also be used without a VPN subscription. Good: The Finnish software company promises not to save the IP addresses of the users and works without user registration and there is no limit to the data volume. When using a US server, we measure a first-class download speed and good upload values. The F-Secure service is available in versions for OS X, Windows and Android. A one-year subscription for three devices costs 50 euros.
Anonymous in the network with a proxy server
Proxy servers work in a similar way to virtual private networks. The user logs on to this server and virtually "borrows" a new server address for the online surf session. Proxy servers are also often used to circumvent regional content restrictions - but like VPNs, especially in countries with "far-reaching" web regulation, they are helpful for overriding censorship measures.
It is true that the use of a proxy server to disguise the IP address is a common means, but there is still a higher risk than with a reputable VPN provider. If data is tapped via a proxy server, it is - in contrast to the use of VPN - not encrypted.
Hide IP address with the Tor Browser
Hardly any name is more synonymous with anonymity on the Internet than that of the Tor browser. For years it has been the app of choice for everyone who places increased value on not being spied on online by governments, criminal hackers or companies.
The Tor Browser is a free, open source tool that redirects your connection through numerous nodes around the world and not only obscures your IP address. Which brings us to the big disadvantage of using the gate: the speed. Or better: the lack of speed caused by the various security layers.
This post is based on an article from our UK sister publication Tech Advisor.
"Tor" was originally an acronym for The Onion Router (project). The Tor network uses multiple layers of encryption to hide data as well as its origin and destination. This helps anonymize the data / connection. Tor is the only way to access a large part of the => Deep Web.
Bitcoin is based on the concept of the distributed database, the so-called blockchain. This is a common transaction database for all Tor nodes in a system, based on the Bitcoin protocol. In order to independently verify the originator chain of any Bitcoin amount, each node has its own copy of the blockchain.
Buying and selling stolen credit card information.
- Dark Web, Deep Web (also Deepnet, Hidden Web, Invisible Web)
The area of the Internet that cannot be found via regular browsers and is not indexed via normal search engines.
- Exit node
Connection / node within the Tor network at which a user leaves it again.
- Hidden Wiki, The
A hidden service that contains a collection of links to .Onion pages (=> another term) that can be reached via the Deep Web. This page is actually a wiki. Here the pages are edited or added that should then be visible. As the nature of the Hidden Wiki suggests, it is actually replete with maliciously engineered sites that primarily have criminal goals.
A term that denotes alternative or exclusively digital currencies based on encryption and a decentralized structure. Such cryptocurrencies have become the means of payment of choice, especially for cyber criminals, because all transactions are anonymized.
The pseudo top-level domain used by websites or hidden services in the deep web and which is only available on the Tor network.
I2P stands for "Invisible Internet Project" and is free P2P software that provides an anonymous and decentralized IP-based network with a simple transmission layer in order to be able to use applications securely and anonymously. The data transfer is encrypted over four layers per packet, and the receiving points are also specially protected.
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