- 1 - Use a privacy-first browser
- 2 - Use a privacy-first search engine
- 3 - Use a VPN
- 4 - (Advanced) Don't use emails
I recently got interested in privacy and anonymity on the internet and I found out something mind-blowing.
The sad truth of the internet is the fact that, by default, you get constantly tracked. That's because in most cases, mostly if you are not taking the correct precautions, even big companies like Google or Microsoft store and sell all of your information and movements around the internet to advertising companies, that use that data to sell products to you, and to governments, that always try to track you.
Most of the people justify themselves by saying "But I have nothing to hide!" and I answer them with a famous quotation of Edward Snowden:
"Arguing that you don't care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say."
It's like someone that watches you using your PC 24 hours a day and records all of your activity, the things you like, your interests and more.
Isn't that just creepy?
Obviously, there are some ways to enhance your privacy on the internet without compromising your comfort and here are some.
Even though most people use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge as default browser, it is really recommended to use any privacy-first browser, like Mozilla Firefox, Brave Browser or DuckDuckGo Browser.
Between these three, I chose and started using Brave Browser for many reasons:
Brave Browser (like Firefox and DuckDuckGo) doesn't track your activity at all.
It is Chromium Based, which means that it's based on the open-source Chromium project, the same of Chrome and Edge, so it's easier to get used to it.
It has an integrated ad-blocker and tracks-blocker: many think of this feature as unethical, but I personally like automatic ad-blocking, since I would use an ad-blocker anyway. Also it automatically blocks all kinds of tracks from websites.
It's the easiest to set up for an average user, as most of the privacy features it provides are already packed in and ready to use.
You can earn BATs using Brave: Brave gives you a cryptocurrency named BAT (Basic Attention Token) for using their browser and I think it's actually a nice way to convince people to switch.
A search engine is a software system that finds web pages that match a web search. The most popular ones are Google Search and Bing Search (Now with Bing AI) for sure.
The sad thing is that these two are probably the most dangerous ones too: as proof, you can look at how much data Google sends and receives about you in one single search. To do that, you can try to open up DevTools in Google Chrome with
F12, go to Network tab, enable the "Preserve log" option and try to search something.
Some nice privacy-first search engines are DuckDuckGo (my favorite one, since it's the most customizable and it promises to never create a personal history of your searches and to never collect information about your computer that might be used to identify you), Brave Search (also keeps no record of your search history), Searx and Startpage.
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a technology that allows you to create a secure and encrypted connection over the internet. A VPN works by creating a secure and encrypted tunnel between your device (such as your computer or smartphone) and a remote server operated by the VPN provider. When you connect to the VPN, your internet traffic is routed through this encrypted tunnel, making it unreadable to anyone trying to intercept it, including hackers and your internet service provider. The VPN server can be located in a different region or country, allowing you to mask your IP address and appear as though you're browsing from that location, which can help you bypass geo-restrictions and enhance your online privacy and security.
There are a lot of trusted VPNs online, like NorthVPN, ExpressVPN or Surfshark VPN. The one I use is Proton VPN, made by the Proton company (specialized privacy-first services), since it's considered the best of the best out there, having however a nice free plan that lets you start playing with it.
However there are disadvantages in constantly using a VPN, like slower internet speed.
I personally use VPNs only in case I want to get real anonymity on the internet (for example, when I surf the deep web).
When emails were born, privacy and security wasn't such a problem in the internet, so no privacy-safe method was implemented in them, resulting them to be highly unsecure nowadays.
Emails work by sending electronic messages through various servers and networks. They lack inherent privacy because the content is often stored on servers, making it susceptible to surveillance or data breaches. To enhance email privacy, try to use end-to-end encrypted email services like ProtonMail or Tutanota, employ strong, unique passwords, enable two-factor authentication, avoid sharing sensitive information via email, and regularly update your email client and plugins to patch security vulnerabilities. Additionally, be cautious about clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown senders to prevent phishing attacks and malware.
The world of the internet is a vast and interconnected space, but it comes with its own set of challenges, particularly concerning privacy and anonymity. It's crucial to recognize that online tracking and data collection are pervasive, often conducted by large companies and even governments. The notion that "having nothing to hide" justifies relinquishing your privacy is a notion that needs to be challenged.
Fortunately, there are proactive steps you can take to safeguard your online privacy without sacrificing your comfort. The recommendations provided, such as using privacy-first browsers like Brave, adopting search engines like DuckDuckGo, employing VPNs for encrypted connections, and considering secure email services like ProtonMail, offer effective ways to enhance your online anonymity.
Remember, being proactive about your online privacy is not just about protecting your secrets; it's about safeguarding your fundamental right to privacy in an increasingly digital world.
Let me know what you think about this!
I am an Italian high-school student who is interested in web-dev 🧙♂️. If you'd like to support me, you can follow me here and on my GitHub, I would really appreciate it 💜