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anonymous web
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Anonymous Web Surfing - Privacy Or Perversion?
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I'll be the first to admit that when I heard about anonymous web surfing, I thought that it was something just for perverts. I pictured some guy in the basement of his parents home watching porn and worried that someone would find out about his Japanese anime streaming habits. While I'm sure that's part of the story, there are many more normal reasons to be anonymous on the internet. Privacy is one of them.

Most people have never really give a lot of thought to privacy on the internet. Sure, maybe you close the door when you log on, or you don't tell your friends you Facebook passwords, but these example are still IRL (In the Real World). But did you ever think that someone could be watching your internet traffic without you knowing?

Ok, so lets avoid the conspiracy theory stuff, and assume that the government isn't keeping tabs on its citizens. But did you know that 1 in 8 adults in The UK have an internet profile in The SIS? Have you heard about "Carnivore", and (successful) attempts to monitor internet traffic in The US? Sorry, I said I wouldn't get into conspiracy theory stuff.

So practically speaking, all of your traffic goes through your ISP. What they do with that information, I'm sure you're not aware of. I'm sure because I have no idea. Chances are nothing too interesting, but who knows.

Aside from that, websites you visit can track your IP. I know this because I had to track down a guy who owed me money. It was easy to set up a website, insert an IP tracking link, send the guy a few anonymous messages, have him click on the link, and have his IP recorded. Yeah, I know, James Bond stuff right? But the point stands that every link you click, every site you visit, every advertisement you check out could be recording your IP, and while most of the time it's just for harmless (but still annoying) advertising, who knows what "they" are going to do with this information.

Furthermore, anonymous web surfing can keep you safe from hackers. All the previous examples were kind of passive protection against advertising, spam, and other types of privacy invasion. Though you may have never been "hacked", it happens. Identity theft, zombie computers, and computer hijacking are all real things, that happen to real people.

One major security breach that most people don't realize is when you connect to the internet in a public place. This could be your office, dorm, hotel, airport, or local cafe. By connecting to the internet there, you're sharing a network with other users. When you share a network with other people, you're also giving them permission to monitor your traffic. With software called a "packet sniffer", other users can watch, intercept, and then use your private email address, passwords, login credentials, and perhaps even credit card numbers you use while connected to the public network.

Though there are many types of software to make you anonymous on the internet, virtual private networks are the most compete version. While some types of software only hide the IP address of your internet browser, VPNs create a virtual "tunnel" for you entire phone/computer, and all of your data, regardless of whether you're running chat software, downloading files, or just browsing, is hidden in this virtual tunnel.

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