Anonymity on the Internet

An idea of network security is an integral part of Internet anonymity. Most average Internet users have the following strong conviction, “Why should I think of anonymity? I do nothing illegal. Let hackers care of anonymity.”

Now imagine. Would you feel at ease if every passer-by knew your exact home address? Someone could obviously decide to follow you and then penetrate into your house in bad faith. You are sure to hate it. But this is just what’s going on when you surf the Internet overtly. Ignoring the importance of anonimity on the Internet is a shortsighted approach that should be changed.

Knowing your IP address, a person can retrieve many details about you (e.g., your real location), can hack your computer and steal personal data.

How to safeguard yourself?

First, you should hide yourself. To do so, use a proxy server that acts as an intermediary between your computer or notebook and other servers.

Your main traitor is your IP address that cannot be deleted or somehow disposed of, since it is involved in data routing. A proxy’s benefit is that it forwards and receives queries using its own IP address. But this is not an ultimate solution because most proxies are transparent and uncover a user’s IP address in the x-forwarded-for line. Sure, anonymous proxies are much better, but they are hard to find.

Using anonymizers is another alternative for keeping yourself anonymous online. From a technical point of view, anonymizers act as anonymous proxy servers and feature a web interface. Their key advantage is simplicity in use. All you need is to enter a proxy server website and type in the URL of the resource you want to visit.

After that you may be sure that your surfing of the website is anonymous. Unfortunately, anonymizers have some drawbacks, e.g., a significant fall of incoming connection speed. Besides, it is almost impossible to find a free anonymizer on the Internet.

By the way, many Internet users are against anonymizers urging to claim them illegal. But anonymizers will hardly ever be banned, otherwise, it would look the same as forbidding a calling line identification restriction, or punishing for wearing wigs and changing of physical appearance.

You are already aware of how to hide your IP address. But there are other efficient ways of keeping an eye on Internet users.

The most effective method to do so is cookies.A cookie is a line of up to 4 kilobytes recorded by a web server to a special file stored in the user’s computer.

This technology was created to improve user’s experience. For example, you often visit a social network or a forum. To avoid authorization (entering of your login and password) every time you enter the site, you can check the Remember Me box. The server will remember you and never again ask you to authorize. Confidentiality is secured by a very important limitation: cookies can be read only by the server that has recorded them. But bad news is that bypassing of that limitation turned out to be very easy.

At the bottom of many websites there are page view counters. Since most counters download and process data from their own servers, we come to a deplorable conclusion that the script of a visits counter is able to read info from cookies. So, an intruder can trace your online activities, get to know which sites you have visited, and what exactly you like. This is real espionage.

The best solution for Internet anonymity

SOCKS protocol is at the forefront of technology providing anonymity on the Internet in the most reliable way. Its operating principle is about the same as a proxy. A SOCKS server receives data from a user’s device (PC or notebook), forwards it to web servers and then returns a response to the user.

The SOCKS technology has some fundamental differences from proxies. Its principal difference is that the user’s computer and the SOCKS server communicate by way of special (socks4, socks5, socks6 и т.д.), not common protocols.As a result, transfer of your IP address is physically impossible.

Besides, every SOCKS transforms all incoming data from a user into protocol queries. And no server is able to detect that it sends packets to an intermediary (a SOCKS), not to an end user.

Operating SOCKS is easy. You install software, for example, Socks-Cap, and run it. Then you need to select an application that you would like to make anonymous (Internet Explorer, The Bat, etc.), and enter IP address and port of your SOCKS server. That is all! You may relax and surf.

We have explained all reliable methods a user can apply to ensure anonymity on the Internet. But IT environment is in constant development releasing new and more advanced solutions. If you want to further maintain your anonymity, monitor the market and use cutting-edge innovations in the field of computer security.