It’s increasingly hard to surf around the net without someone somewhere knowing who you are and where you’ve come from. For most of us, that’s no big deal – you’ve got nothing to hide after all have you? However, sometimes details such as your IP address and other traces you leave behind can be used by commercial entities to spam you with advertising or worse, compromise the security of your system.
Whatever reason you may have for wanting to hide your identity, there are a couple of options that can help preserve your privacy. On Windows, one of the best known applications to help achieve this end is Tor. Tor is an open source project that help you anonymize web browsing and publishing, instant messaging, IRC, SSH, and other applications that use the TCP protocol. Tor hushes up your communications by bouncing them around a distributed network of servers called “onion routers”. If you don’t want to use any software, then another method is to use a proxy. There are several websites out there that allow you to surf the net using public proxies that mask your real IP address.
Anonymous browsing is particularly useful if you’re using a public computer and don’t want your tracks revealed to strangers. However, the disadvantage is that sites that rely on your specific ID might not work as well. So for example, sites that normally save your personal preferences might not do so if every time you return as an “unknown” user. Still, if you’re increasingly worried about the prying eyes of Big Brother, anonymous surfing is one way to give him the slip.