Keeping your identity private is not without its challenges. With every social site pressing you to sign up, or to link your accounts, or to share everything with everyone, it can be difficult to keep your privacy to yourself.
But you don't have to be exposed to all those prying eyes and ads. We have a few solutions to keep you insulated from all those data-mining advertisers and snoops online.
Warning: While these tools are powerful, nothing is completely secure and law enforcement has a lot of online and offline resources to track down criminals. Do not use these tools for illegal activities; you will be caught.
Tools to help you protect your identity
Privoxy - If you're looking for a fairly straightforward proxy to keep your identity hidden from online snoops, Privoxy is a good way to go. Privoxy obscures your IP address and fetches webpages and other online communication for you. Websites with tracking information only see the proxy IP address, so yours stays hidden.
There are some advanced steps in this program to take full advantage of Privoxy's capabilities, but even if you're a relative beginner you can make use of the basic features to hide your IP address.
Kproxy - For those on the go, Kproxy is a good way to proxy your IP address. You can download a file to any USB drive and voila! Instant privacy, no matter what computer you're on.
This program works by encrypting the connection between your browser and the sites you want to visit, where available. Kproxy routes your internet requests through a separate computer to keep your IP address concealed from prying companies.
SafeIP - Another proxy program that will keep you masked while you're online is SafeIP. It encrypts your comings and goings online; even if you're not on your own computer. SafeIP also hides your IP address while you're online, and it chooses the nearest anonymous IP location for the best internet speed.
All of your privacy settings in SafeIP can be adjusted to be as secure as you need them to be. You can also set your IP proxy to keep the same anonymous address or you can rotate the address to keep your proxy secure.
TAILS - For a really secure anonymity program, you should try TAILS. It routes everything through the Tor Network, an anonymous network designed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which makes it hard for anyone to see where you're going online. Tor keeps you anonymous and your browsing information encrypted while you're online.
TAILS is actually a separate operating system, so any computer you use will forget where you've gone and what you've done. The computer will even forget that you used TAILS, so it's the premium way to work anonymously on public or unsecured computers.
How to avoid being tracked online
Big data is big business nowadays, and your browsing and search habits get collected, cataloged, analyzed and fed through algorithms that are designed to monetize your every move. But sometimes, all this stalking and creeping and tracking and snooping can feel a little bit too much. It certainly feels like a blatant invasion of privacy.