The Internet was not designed with anonymity in mind. Every transaction leaves a trail of digital footprints. The major Internet routers keep records that can allow the matching of Internet traffic to specific users. To make matters worse, many applications send personal information all over the Internet. Email, web browsers, and chat software function as platforms for the exposure of confidential information. People who care about privacy try to minimize this exposure by using the Internet anonymously.
How can you obtain total anonymity on the Internet? Put on a disguise. Go to a cyber café far from where you work or live—preferably in another country. Pay cash. Browse the Web, but don’t log in to any web sites. If you need to log in to a site, create an account that will be used only once. Use a completely random password and username. Ensure that there is no identifying information in any email messages you send. Wipe your fingerprints from the keyboard before you leave, or wear latex gloves. Never come back to the same café again. If anybody looks at you for more than a few seconds . . . kill them.
Most people consider this approach to be a bit extreme—after
all, paying cash is rather inconvenient. They want some anonymity, but without the mess. Ideally, one
should be able to browse the Web, make purchases, share files, chat, and send emails anonymously—without having to use secret agent techniques.
Anonymizers are a class of technologies that attempt to provide a certain degree of anonymity in a relatively
transparent manner. These software programs use a number
of techniques to obscure a user’s identity.
Obtaining anonymity on the Internet involves removing all traces of identifying information from communications. This is not easy. For example, an anonymous email needs to have a “from” address that is meaningless and must be sent from a machine that has no relationship to the sender. The message contents also must not reveal the identity of the sender, or must be encrypted.
The above information is the start of a chapter in "Network Security Illustrated," published by McGraw-Hill and available from amazon.com, as well as your local bookstore. The book goes into much greater depth on this topic. To learn more about the book and what it covers, click here.
Below, you'll find links to online resources that supplement this portion of the book.