Digital crooks – what cyber security experts and law enforcement officials politely call bad actors – use elements of modern cyber communication to track your online activities. These elements are hidden in plain sight, but they are easy to reveal once you know where to find them.
You can bounce around false leads to disguise your activities or at least leave behind some misdirections to keep potential mischief-makers off your trail. Hiding your online activity is not illegal if you are not engaging in criminal activity.
When you use your computer, mobile phone or tablet to access the Internet, you receive an Internet Protocol (IP) address assigned to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and a Media Access Control (MAC) protocol that identifies each fragment. MAC) are easily visible via the address. of the computing hardware you use. We’ll cover these again in a minute.
The same is true when you use a mobile device with cellular connectivity because it pings cell towers around you to provide a connection. Therefore, surfing the web or using email on your cellular phone or tablet presents another access channel to your IP address. But your mobile device’s IP address is different, giving determined people enough of two ways to find and track you.
Keep in mind that your ISP (both fixed and mobile) has direct access to your location when you are online. They may also monitor your digital activities and may be ordered by law enforcement agencies to reveal that information under certain conditions. Even the websites you visit can tell that it is you and what you do while you are there. Other people who snoop on you can do the same.
Read on to know how you can prevent others from tracking you digitally. Then, apply these strategies to prevent bad actors from using your IP address to load malware onto your devices, serve you with ransomware, hack into your financial accounts, or steal your entire online identity. Read on to know how you can prevent others from tracking you digitally.
The Internet consists of different pathways that are linked together. An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a unique set of numbers that identifies a device connected to this series of networks. When you subscribe to a service provider, you are assigned a unique IP address, which may change as your device connects and disconnects.
A media access control (MAC) address is a 12-digit hexadecimal number displayed with a colon or hyphen separating each two digits. Hardware manufacturers assign MAC addresses to each computer, tablet, and phone that end users cannot change.
Once your IP address is determined, it indicates where your connection originated and the source of sending your emails. IP addresses are assigned to companies rather than countries. It is difficult to locate a location just by looking at a series of numbers. But an IP lookup tool makes it very easy to extract information from an IP address to find you.
Unlike IP addresses, routers typically use dynamic IP addresses, meaning they are not fixed or permanent. So it is easy to interfere with bad actors discovering its location. Every time you power it off and on, the router grabs a new IP address on the ISP’s network.
Secure, but not completely hidden
Remember that you want to hide your physical location to thwart other people’s attempts to hack or usurp your identity. It’s not our goal to hide illegal activity, and nothing here will hide you from your ISP or the police.
Network managers can always track your online activity, and they have your address from when you enrolled with them for service. Law enforcement agencies can work with ISPs to watch for suspicious online activity and find out who and where you are.
Also, consider that some apps query your IP address to learn the location of your device in order to help serve you personalized content. Hackers can create websites or apps that contain links that obtain IP addresses, which is one way individuals and companies become victims. Knowing your IP address enables evil actors to hack into your computer, attack company servers, or stalk an individual.
How to cover your digital tracks
Knowing how to avoid exposing your IP address at home or on the go will make it much more difficult for anyone with ill intentions to target your location. Protect yourself from the potential hassle of anyone knowing your IP address by using these strategies.
Premium Virtual Private Network Services
A VPN funnels your Internet connection through its own servers connected to its own network pathway. It hides your IP address so that you can surf the web anonymously.
Someone trying to track you can only see the VPN you’re using, not where you’re connecting to that VPN. This includes a willingness to help law enforcement or the VPN company without court intervention. Be aware that not all VPNs are created equal. Free services often sell your data to cover costs, and they may not encrypt your data.
web proxy services
Like VPNs, web proxies route your connection through their own servers. This filtering hides your IP address. Proxy servers – unless you pay for the good one – have some drawbacks. For example, hiding an IP address is not the same as hiding it completely. You set up a proxy connection in your web browser settings, but that doesn’t stop ISPs and tech-savvy hackers from looking up your IP address.
Some web proxy services to check out include Kproxy, Whoer.Net, HMA, Zyte, GeoSurf, Anonymouse, and Proxysite.
Verify Public Wi-Fi Security
Many legitimate businesses, airports, hotels, restaurants, etc. offer Wi-Fi to guests as a courtesy to customers.
Typically, however, public Wi-Fi hotspots are not encrypted and therefore less secure to use. They also pose a security risk because it is easy for bad actors to set up copycat connections to lure users in.
Be sure to verify that a legitimate organization actually sponsors any public Wi-Fi you use. Then you can probably safely connect to it without exposing your IP address.
Better yet, use a VPN when using public Wi-Fi.
use specific browsers
Some web browsers provide free built-in VPN through their own servers. Opera is one of them. Perhaps the most well-known browser for hiding your online activity is the TOR browser. Its name means The Onion Router. TOR is free to download and use as a way to hide your IP address. It connects you to the TOR network and sends your data through random relay servers hosted by volunteers around the world.
Email Alternative: Go Anonymous
Most people don’t realize that every email they send is the equivalent of posting their home address online. It is a flashing beacon that alerts others to your base location.
To further hide this homing signal, use an anonymous email service. It gives false signals by masking the email header pasted on top of your email.
It blocks more than just your IP address. The email headers contain the IP addresses of all the computer systems that relay your message between the sender and the receiver, providing all the handy email metadata. Hackers use these details to trace the source of emails.
To get them out of your way, consider these two options:
- Send your email through a dedicated anonymous email provider like ProtonMail, Starmail, Tutanota, Cyber Atlantis, Guerrilla Mail, or others. These services hide your IP address and make it more difficult for anyone to access your real location.
- Use a fake email account. Known as burner, throwaway, temporary and disposable email addresses, most work the same way. The service generates a random email address and sends the response from its servers to your specified real email address, which is not known to the sender or the responder.
This approach lets you sign up or register for various website programs without revealing your actual contact information. Some well-known fake email providers are 10MinuteMail, Temp-Mail, Minute Inbox, and EmailOnDeck. They all provide you with a new, unique email address.
be cyber safe
More than ever, the information superhighway creates on-ramps for digital attacks and traffic turns into dangerous places. You can fight back against cybercriminals with these tips to hide your online visits and protect your digital security.