You don't need to have evil motives for wanting to fake your identity or go incognito online; for many people, it's a matter of privacy and avoiding spammers and scammers. Thankfully, there are a great many tools for staying anonymous online. Here are a few of the best.
It's Evil Week at Lifehacker, which means we're looking into less-than-seemly methods for getting shit done. We like to think we're shedding light on these tactics as a way to help you do the opposite, but if you are, in fact, evil, you might find this week unironically helpful. That's up to you.
The Browser's Incognito Mode
The private browsing mode in Google Chrome, Firefox, and other browsers records no information about your browsing, including form data you enter, files you download or history of pages you visit. It's handy for many things beyond porn. To launch a window in private browsing mode, use these keyboard shortcuts:
- Chrome and Opera: Ctrl+Shift+N
- Firefox, Internet Explorer: Ctrl+Shift+P
For Safari, go to Safari > Private Browsing.
You can do the same thing on mobile devices - although you'll need to find it in the browser settings which vary depending on the OS you're using.
Private Browsing Tricks
If you want to open your browser in private mode all the time, add a simple switch to your browser's shortcut.
Proxy Servers and VPNs
Although private browsing mode is great for preventing sites from writing trackable cookies and other info to your computer, it doesn't completely make you anonymous. If you want the most assurance that others won't know who you really are, you'll want to use a proxy server and/or a virtual private network connection so you can appear to be someone and somewhere else.
The free Tor software is one of our favourites for anonymising our online sessions. It routes web requests through multiple tunnels, preventing sites from knowing who or where you are.
If you want to set up your own secure, encrypted system to access on the go, you can do this using Hamachi and Privoxy, tunnelling traffic using your own home computer.
Disposable Email Addresses And Anonymous Email Sending
Disposable email address services hide your real email address and keep the spam out by giving you a temporary email address that forwards to your real one. There are so many different disposable email services to choose from, and we've mentioned quite a few. Spamgourmet is one of the earliest services and still great.
Fake Your Identity
Looking to disappear and establish a new identity in real life? We've got some excerpts from How to Disappear that can help you formulate a plan to ditch Big Brother and disappear forever.