“On the Internet, you can be ANYBODY!”
Not quite. Remaining anonymous in cyber space isn’t as easy as it used to be. Your browsing habits can be tracked, leading to your true identity. But there are things you can do to prevent people/companies from tracking your every move online.
- Don’t feel you must use your full, real name when filling out forms or whatever, just because it’s asked or even a “required field.” Of course, you’ll want to use your real name when registering online with a bank, for instance, or making a purchase. But sometimes, the real name just isn’t necessary, such as when registering with a site so that you can post comments on its news articles, or registering with an online community so that you can participate in forums.
- Stop “liking” things. Does your vote really matter in a sea of thousands anyways? But you can still be tracked even if you don’t hit “like” buttons, so always log off of social media sites when done. This means hit the “log out” button, not just close out the page.
- Twitter has options to control how much it tracks you, so check those out.
- Clear your browser cookies automatically every day.
- Use a disposable e-mail address; these expire after a set time.
Virtual Private Network
You may not think it’s a big deal that your browsing habits get tracked, but this can be used against you in a way that you cannot possibly imagine.
For example, you suffer whiplash injury in a car accident and want to sue the erroneous driver who caused it. However, your nephew asks your advice on weight lifting equipment, so you decide to visit some websites on weight lifting equipment since you know a lot about this.
The defendant’s attorney gets wind of this online search and can use it against you, claiming you don’t really have any whiplash injuries. How can you prove you were searching this information for your nephew?
A VPN will scramble your browsing activities so that you can freely roam the virtual world wherever you are without worrying you’re being tracked. Your IP address will be hidden. One such VPN service is Hotspot Shield, which can be used on iOS, Android, Mac and PC.