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Anonymity Online: Mission Impossible?

Living in a global village can have its pros and cons. Sometimes the pros out way the cons, but it’s an unfortunate truth that oftentimes the cons out weigh the pros.

I don’t know if you’ve ever lived in a village—I haven’t; I was born and raised in a city with millions of people. But I do know people who were raised in a village and one of the problems they claim is that everybody knows your business. And like we said above, sometimes that can be to your advantage, but oftentimes, not so much.

Now take that to a global scale where any and everyone could be privy to your business. Even your private business, be it legitimate or not. Ethical or not. Legal or not.

We hope all you readers aren’t leaning too far into the “or nots” mentioned above, but if you are, then making sure you have anonymity online is perhaps even more important to you.

In this article, I’ll give you some pointers about how to protect and preserve your anonymity online, like choosing one of the best free VPN services—or one of the paid ones for that matter.

Online Anonymity: The Advantages

Personal Safety. Have you ever been part of a forum or maybe on Reddit and seen users using their real names, talking about where they live, maybe even where they work? And perhaps at the same time getting involved in heated, contentious arguments? I have. And I honestly shake my head. Because there are a lot of people with less than stable mental health that could be paying attention.

Here’s an example. A few years ago some author in Britain tracked down and attacked someone who wrote a bad review of his book. If that reviewer had have been completely anonymous that wouldn’t have happened.

Online Personas. At the risk of you all thinking I have a serious multiple personality disorder, I like to have different personas for different aspects of my online life. And all of them are at least a few steps away from my real offline life. For me, that anonymity gives me a feeling of safety.

Data Security. For those of us who aren’t completely off the grid and keeping our money under the mattress, we have a lot of sensitive data stored online. If you protect your anonymity and tighten the security around your data, you have a lesser chance of that data being stolen. Data like the information that makes up your identity. Not to mention your banking and credit card information and all of your passwords. If a hacker got their hands on this, they could do serious damage.

Freedom of Movement. Have ever had an employer, supervisor or teacher who liked to hover over your shoulder and watch what you were doing? For whatever reason? Isn’t that a horrible feeling? So invasive and intrusive? Did you know that all your traffic and activities online undergo that exact same treatment? At the very least, your ISP is spying on you. Advertisers are watching to see what you’re interested in so they can drop a barrage of ads on similar things on your device. Imagine being completely anonymous online and not giving anyone the chance to do this to you.

Free Speech. While I do believe that lines are often crossed when it comes to free speech, people do have the right to express their opinions. Within reason. But there are people in this world who think everyone must agree with their opinions and would be quite happy to come after anyone who disagrees with them. An excellent reason to protect yourself while online.

How to Remain Anonymous Online

Above I’ve detailed some pretty serious reasons why someone would want to protect their anonymity online.

So how can you do it?

Use a VPN. In my opinion, one of the best things you can do is utilize the services of a VPN. This will protect your anonymity by allowing you to move about online using an IP address supplied by the network, not your own. This means that whatever route you take online, whatever site you visit, will be hidden. Whether you’re doing your banking or downloading torrents.

Let me try to paint a bit of a visual to help you understand how this works. Let’s say there’s a series of underground tunnels in your neighbour. Every building and home is connected via the tunnels. Not only would this be very cool, but it would also mean you could leave your house in the morning and go somewhere without anyone above ground being able to spy on where you’re going and your destination. Using a VPN gives you that same sort of protection.

The other advantage of a VPN is that all data is encrypted. So not only is your route blocked, all the information you carry with you on your trip is scrambled and unintelligible.

So if you the above reasons for anonymity resonate with you, getting a VPN—free or paid—is an excellent idea.

There are a number of excellent VPNs to choose from. Only you know the features you need, so do your research!

Categories: Life