Once you enter the online world, everything you do is recorded and tracked. Therefore, it becomes important to learn how to browse the web privately without leaving any digital footprints.
Several pieces of advice like disabling cookies, using incognito mode, VPN, etc. can be found online. But do they work?
They do but with certain caveats. The hard truth is nothing can guarantee 100% anonymity.
However, if you keep the following points in mind while browsing, you can stay anonymous & do in private browsing without leaving any traces.
How to Browse Web Privately and Stay Safe Online
There are several ways to hide digital footprints and browse privately. But not all are trustworthy. Hence, here we enlist tips to stay safe online and become untraceable while browsing the web.
Private Browsing – Incognito Mode: Stop your browser from tracking your online activities
Known by different names like Incognito Mode on Chrome, Private Window in Firefox, InPrivate in Explorer this feature helps stay hidden when online.
When you open the web browser in incognito mode, any accounts you are signed into are not connected in the Private Browsing window. This means no sites can track you as a user. Also, the web browser does not store any cookies or browsing history, meaning no one can track you via cookies or history.
But there’s a caveat; Private Browsing mode does not hide your IP address. In other words, the site you visit can track your online identity via IP address.
Use Virtual Private Network (VPN) – To hide IP address from the ISP
Everyone says VPN – virtual private network keeps us safe from hackers. This is somewhat true but not completely. The reason behind it is the companies that provide VPN, mostly free VPN providers as they sell data and show ads to make money. Therefore, while using a VPN that creates a dedicated tunnel to transmit data, you need to be very careful. Do your homework before trusting a VPN for browsing the web privately and over your data.
We recommend using Systweak VPN – an advanced tool that helps keep your online identity hidden.
Relatively new, this VPN works on zero log policy, and it makes sure you can access geo-restricted sites and online content. Further, it comes with 60-days money-back guarantee, meaning if Systweak VPN does not work as claimed you can ask the company to return your money.
In addition to this, you can check out the list of best VPN for Windows 10,8,7.
VPNs are worth trying, but there’s a drawback VPN cannot protect you from being tracked by user agent string or cookies.
Use TOR browser: Encrypt and re-route your online traffic, IP address
VPN is just one way to hide an IP address. If you want to make it more robust, you can use the TOR browser to hide digital footprints and become untraceable. TOR encrypts IP address, and traffic, before routing it. This means no one can intercept your identity. Moreover, it re-encrypts the data at every step keeping you safe online.
To get started, download the TOR browser and use it when you want to browse privately and stay anonymous.
However, in some instances, it has been found that hackers manage to trace traffic over TOR. Therefore, to avoid being a victim to identity theft keep following points in mind:
- Avoid downloading torrents over TOR, as this might reveal your IP address.
- Don’t add any plugins in TOR; they might reveal your IP address.
- Use encrypted sites, i.e. with HTTPS, whenever possible.
- When online don’t open documents in TOR, this can access the internet outside TOR thereby revealing your IP address.
Check Privacy Settings on Social Media
Default privacy settings of social media accounts tell a lot about users. Due to this reason, it has become necessary to tweak privacy settings in social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
Stop Your Browser From Sending Location Data
Almost all browsers share geographical location with sites you visit. Therefore, sites, especially online booking sites, know what you are looking for, and hence they show targeted ads. Therefore, to stay safe online and to avoid such tracking deny location requests.
However, if you have already accepted location sharing, follow steps below to disable it and browse privately.
Chrome – Tap three dots at the upper right corner > click Settings > scroll down to look for Privacy and security > Site settings > location > enable Ask before accessing.
Alternatively, click here chrome://settings/content/location
Safari – Preferences > Privacy, where you can disable location services, or let each website make a request.
Firefox – Open Firefox, type “about:config” in the URL > followed by “geo.enabled”. Here if you see False click the swap icon to enable it.
Microsoft Edge – To disable location sharing in Microsoft Edge no need to open the browser. Press Windows + I; this will open Windows 10 settings window. Here in the search field type Location and press enter. This will open the Location & privacy window. Here, under Location, if sharing is on click Change button and disable it. This will stop all the apps from sharing location.
Be Watchful of the Information You Share
The Internet is like a web that is difficult to understand; therefore, limiting the amount of information you share is essential. On social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. avoid sharing personal details like phone number, email address, house address, and others. This might risk your online safety and will expose your identity to hackers and third parties who always look for ways to steal valuable and personal information.
Disable Java And Unused Plugins
Plugins enhance the browser’s capabilities; for example, you can use them to boost sound, play a video, etc. But sometimes these plugins reveal your identity. The most common are Adobe Flash and Java plugins. They usually identify the IP address and disclose your identity. Hence you should disable the Java plugin from your web browser and try to stay safe online during private internet browsing.
Chrome: Tap the three dots at the upper right corner > Settings > Privacy and security > site settings. Here look for Java and Flash options. Tap each separately and disable them.
Firefox: Click the three horizontal lines > Addons> Plugins. Click the three dots next to the plugins and from here choose Ask to Activate.
Safari: Head to Preferences > Security > Plugin Settings to turn each on or off.
Microsoft Edge: Go to Settings > Advanced. There you can turn off Flash. There is no support for Java.
This will help stay secure and anonymous while browsing the web.
Remember You’re Never Invincible
As you can see, there are different methods to browse the web privately and hide digital footprints, but none of them is full proof. Therefore, if you want a robust system to stay safe online combine proper tools. Here are a few examples:
When using Incognito or Private Browsing use a VPN, this will hide your IP address and will disable cookies, browser history from being tracked.
While using TOR enables private browsing, it will be a great way to browse the web anonymously by adding an extra layer of protection. In addition to this, you can use TOR with a VPN in Private Browsing mode; this ultimate combination will surely create a secure layer that will be hard to infiltrate. This means your digital footprint will be hidden, and you will stay anonymous.
Besides, this, instead of using Google, the most prominent online tracker, uses DuckDuckGo. Set up your router to encrypt traffic and be sure to use a VPN when browsing via an unencrypted connection.
Although the above tools do not guarantee 100% surety, they will surely help stay anonymous. They will keep you safe online and will hide digital footprints. You just need to keep the pointers in mind while browsing the web so that you can browse the web privately and stay secure.