The internet is one of the greatest things to ever be created. It has entirely changed the world we live in and continues to push the boundaries of what we can achieve. However, with all the good that it offers, there are concerns regarding privacy and anonymity on the internet. One of the biggest points of contention for the internet is privacy. Putting yourself on the internet or simply connecting to it instantly puts you at risk of compromise. Cybercrime continues to plague the world we live in and while efforts are being made to mitigate the risk and damage, there is still a long way to go.
This article will expound on whether or not it is impossible to go completely anonymous on the internet. It will delve into why anonymity is important, how to be more anonymous, and what challenges prevent it. This isn’t meant to scare anyone into shutting off the internet forever. It aims to educate the masses on the reality of the world we live in and the digital revolution that has spread far and wide.
Why Anonymity Matters
Before we proceed, it is important to delve into the connection between privacy and anonymity. To understand this, we must first define these two terms. Anonymity is defined as a way of preventing the identification of an individual’s identity. Privacy is defined as the process of restricting how much people know about you. The relationship emerges when we realize that we need privacy for anonymity but do not need anonymity for privacy. Moreover, when we choose to remain anonymous, we are amplifying the level of privacy that is being used. Anonymity is considered privacy with higher walls and tighter entry. These two are not interchangeable but they depend on each other in a unique fashion.
When it comes to privacy, it is imperative that it exists online. This is due to the fact that its absence can directly result in a host of different issues. These include, but are not limited to:
Our personal information must be protected at all costs. Under no circumstances is it acceptable that our names, contact information, address, email addresses, and other sensitive information be accessed by anyone else. Doing so can immediately damage someone personally, financially, or psychologically. By accessing said information, it becomes incredibly easy to impersonate someone else.
Damage to One’s Reputation
The thought of our personal information finding its way onto the internet is nightmare fuel. Our personal devices house multiple pieces of content that we only want to share with a select few. This includes contacts, documents, pictures, videos, audio, and so on. If this information becomes public, it can shatter a person’s reputation, cause them irreparable emotional damage, or both.
There have been countless examples of how internet-based financial services and online banking have been compromised. We have seen instances where people lost all their money either by hackers, phishing emails, or simply adding an extra zero to the amount they wanted to transfer.
Unfortunately, despite every effort under the sun to curb online harassment, it still manages to find its way through. If someone’s personal information finds its way online, this can lead to insufferable bullying and harassment that can have damaging results in the end.
Globally, we have seen countless instances where governments were spying on their citizens. This is a breach of privacy and a smear on the sanctity of all institutions involved. While they may argue that it was needed or that they had no choice, it is an unforgivable action that is leveraged for personal benefit at times.
With the rise of social media, there are many instances when we speak of something or scroll on a browser and when we open a social media application, we see ads for it. This happens because those social media applications are actively monitoring your social media usage and showing you ads based on your preferences. For many people, this can be annoying and at times these advertisements can become a nuisance.
Methods of Increasing Anonymity Online
With all of these issues plaguing our security, it is important that we find ways to solve these issues. Our privacy online is extremely important and there is no room for compromise. This begs the question, how exactly does someone do so?
A virtual private network or VPN is a digital tool that is used to encrypt your internet connection. It is rerouted through a dedicated server courtesy of the VPN provider which hides your IP addresses. This way, it becomes incredibly difficult to be monitored and tracked by third-party sources. Think of it as your bandwidth going through a secure tunnel that no one can access. By using a VPN, you can bypass geographical restrictions and connect your computer to servers in other locations.
One of the safest methods to protect yourself while browsing the internet is by using The Onion Router or Tor browser. This is an open source and free software that allows you to endlessly browse the internet, fully anonymously. When using Tor, all of the internet traffic is rerouted through a series of servers run by different ‘volunteers.’ In the simplest words, each time you use Tor, all of your internet traffic is essentially bounced around different servers. This makes it near impossible for you to be tracked. Your ISP may see that you are using Tor but they cannot see what you are using it for.
Using Encrypted Messaging
Instant messaging is one of the most common ways of communication. It can also very easily be compromised if attempted. Our chats house some of the most intimate and valuable information we have – personal or otherwise. In an effort to protect your privacy while communicating online, using tools for instant messaging applications such as Signal or Telegram is the way to go. With AT&T Internet, this entire process becomes a walk in the park. Click here to learn more about their offerings and get your subscription today!
With Signal, you get end-to-end encryption in your chats. The message is encrypted when the sender sends it and then it is decrypted when the receiver opens it. This allows only the sender and receiver to see the contents of the message. Moreover, the open-source nature of Signal allows anyone to see the source code, creating an air of trust in the different security systems being used.
With Telegram, you also get end-to-end encryption with your chats. However, where Telegram differs from Signal is that the chats are encrypted in the server as opposed to Signal’s model. This might not seem like a major difference but if someone does a bit of digging, Signal narrowly edges ahead of Telegram.
Anyone using the internet has access to all the information in the world and then some. There is immense potential that the internet is able to provide. However, with all the benefits that come with the internet, there is an obvious concern for the safety of your data. Cybercrime continues to be one of the most significant annoyances of our time. However, taking certain steps in the right direction can ensure that you protect your information in the best way possible. One of the best ways to ensure your data is secure is by using a quality internet connection. The good people at AT&T have just what you need and if you want to learn more before you join the family, you can click here now!