Every server, router and login you use to browse the Internet can be traced back to you. Users like to think they’re anonymous behind a monitor in the privacy of their homes, but in fact, the Internet has never been anonymous. While you can’t ever be completely anonymous, you can use methods to hide your personal IP address and shield yourself from basic trackback measures.
Virtual Private Servers (VPS)
VPS has been around for several years, but it was historically expensive and used only by enterprise businesses. With the introduction of cloud computing, VPS has become cheaper and affordable for the home user. Virtual private servers let you tunnel into the server’s desktop and remote control it. A VPS is virtual machine and not dedicated, so you share a physical device with other users. The virtual server software itself is sandboxed from other users, which gives you privacy from other people who have a VPS running on the same physical machine. When you access the Internet from the VPS, the VPS IP is shown in server and router logs. This technique essentially uses your server’s IP instead of your home computer’s IP.
Free Proxy Servers
Several websites include a list of free proxy servers from places such as colleges and private institutions. Some websites are dedicated free proxy servers. The catch is you must see various ads in your browser as you use the service. The advantage to free proxy servers is they are easy to find and configure. The disadvantage is they typically don’t last for long. Site owners turn off the open proxy option on their servers when too much traffic drains bandwidth. Additionally, some firewall software has a list of free proxies, so sites automatically block these free proxies from accessing pages.
Residential proxies most of the time are proxies made out of real user’s connections, so the connection is shared among others but its usually kept secure, the great advantage residential proxies have is that they allow you to easily bypass any geo-location block or even allow you to bypass any rate limiting if you need it for scraping. There are many uses for these proxies but usually its to scrape data fast, reliably and without any interruption.
Datacenter proxies are usually dedicated IP addresses, so nobody is using them at the same time or using them anytime, so you can rest assured that your data is safe from anybody. This is perfect for those who wants to anonymously browse the internet without worrying about the security of your data. Also, since sites won’t know your real IP address that means they also won’t leak your location which important for those who don’t want that. Another great thing about datacenter proxies is that they can easily support different proxy protocols such as HTTP, HTTPS and SOCKS5 which is important for those needing the proxies more than just standard web browsing but instead maybe data heavy tasks such as downloading or streaming things which SOCKS5 can have a major advantage due to its reliability and speed advantage compared to the other protocols.
Tor is a newer option released in 2002. Tor is additional software you install and run while browsing the Internet. Tor uses a number of methods to relay IP addresses and encrypt data. Tor has over 3,000 relay servers used to obfuscate the original IP address. The user’s traffic bounces from one relay to another, and each hop decrypts only enough information to reach the next relay.
Tor is an accepted form of anonymous browsing for many underground sites, and it’s used to secure private transactions for items exchanged using bitcoins. The disadvantage to Tor is that it’s slow from all the relay hops and encryption methods used to conceal your identity.
While the Internet will never be truly anonymous, these three browsing techniques block identification and submission of your IP to a target server. These methods also make it more difficult to track general Internet traffic back to your computer.
There are many risks on the internet however you can mitigate part of it by browsing anonymously with proxies as its much better than using some alternatives due to its simplicity and affordability that comes with it.