Becoming Anonymous On The Internet (Part 2)

10/1/2013 11:02:49 AM

False identities

Using a false identity sounds a lot more intriguing than it actually is, but in many ways it's actually quite effective.

Consider this: you use your normal email address for logging into Facebook, Twitter, eBay and many other sites, including some online gaming. It may sound perfectly reasonable, but the 'hacker' or whoever now has the very easy task of only hacking a single account, tracing you back to the source with apparent ease. If you had a set of aliases, then the hacker would need more time and effort in tracing the false identity back to its true owner.

Using the Tor Bundle Firefox compared to regular Firefox

Using the Tor Bundle Firefox compared to regular Firefox

That's a very basic concept, but it's one that can be used to successfully mask your usual online activity. Indeed, there are some circumstances whereby users have reported using in excess of 50 names and email addresses, all false, in order to avoid entering their real identities into websites.

Think of this tactic as staying below the radar. There are very few reasons why you should provide your actual or real identity online, unless you want the site to know your real name and address. Most of the time, sites will only collate and sell on or use your details for advertising purposes - and by no means should you ever give out your real email address, home address or contact details on a publicly accessible website.

If you struggle to come up with fake identities, then consider using something like the Fake Name Generator ( This site can create an entire fake identity, including names, addresses, email and telephone numbers; it can even provide you with a fake credit card number, mother's maiden name, vehicle, blood type, height, weight and a QR code to use. Obviously, all the data supplied is fake and any resemblance to a real person is purely coincidental.

In addition to the Fake Name Generator, the false email it generates is actually capable of being activated and used as a free disposable email system, with any incoming emails to it being displayed in the hyperlinked page. However, you don't know who else has access to this system, so it's best to treat it as an email that can be used on web forms or other sites that require you to spill the beans on who you really are.

Third-party Tools To Stay Invisible

Beyond the basics, there are a number of programs that can be installed to help cover your tracks, disguise your digital fingerprint or keep you invisible when online. The most well-known of these is the Tor network, which we'll cover first, but for those who may require a more complete package of encryption and anonymity, then a VPN (virtual private network) would be the order of the day.

The tor network

There has already been much said about the Tor network and how it can go a long way to making sure that your online activity is as anonymous as possible. For those of you who don't know. Tor is a method of bouncing your online communications through a distributed network of Tor relays, each of which is run by volunteers from around the globe. In essence, it's basic concept is to block sites from tracking you and learning your physical location, and it allows you to access otherwise blocked sites.

The Tor Browser Bundle is a free, portable, self-extracting package for Windows, Mac and Linux, which will automatically connect you to the Tor network and launch a specially designed and modified version of Firefox. When it's up and running and when you start browsing via the Tor- launched version of Firefox, all your connected online content is encrypted and routed through the aforementioned relays. The Tor Browser Bundle works effectively with any TCP applications, such as instant messengers, remote logins and other web browsers. However, it's not 100% anonymous, and pirates shouldn't think of it as a way to download illegal music or films, because this will put undue strain on the Tor network and ruin it for legitimate users. Anyway, the protocols that are used in P2P sites are often used to scan your IP address as it soon as it reaches you, so it can send back the actual IP address rather than the Tor-created one.

However, Tor is an excellent third-party product to use if you want to stay anonymous for casual searching. The included Firefox version, based on Mozilla's Extended Support Release (ESR) Firefox branch is patched to enhance the security and privacy functionality. This includes blocking access to the Components. interfaces object, which can be used to identify the user's platform. It also blocks all plug- ins except for some Flash circumstances, stops SSL sessions from caching their connections and stops WebSockets from leaking DNS information. Needless to say, by using the Tor Browser Bundle, with the Firefox version that's included with it, you'll be relatively safe from online snooping from all but the most determined of individuals.

DoNotTrackMe, stops unwanted tracking elements from locating you

DoNotTrackMe, stops unwanted tracking elements from locating you

If you look at the example screen-shot, using the site as an example, you can see that by navigating via the Tor version of Firefox, your IP address is hidden due to JavaScript being disabled, and the patched version has successfully blocked the relative scripts needed to gain knowledge of your system.

If you want to try out the Tor Browser Bundle and see just how successful at hiding your digital fingerprint is actually is, then head to for access to the downloads section and further information on how Tor can help you stay relatively anonymous and safe when online.

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