These days, it’s easy for your online activity to be tracked. Browsing the web anonymously isn’t just for criminals looking to hide their search queries and other data. Other people may want to browse the web anonymously to reduce targeted ads, access sites that aren’t available in their country, and even reduce the risk of identity theft. To ensure your Internet privacy when browsing on your Android device or iPhone, follow these tips.

Hide Your IP Address

The first step in remaining anonymous online is to hide your IP address. Your IP address is like a home address. It’s a number for your device that tells sites where to send your pieces of data so that the right web pages or files arrive at the proper phone or tablet. Your IP address contains information about your geographical location. Social networking sites and search engines can use your IP address to track your online activity to target ads to your accounts.

That said, there are numerous ways to hide your IP address from sites you visit. Some of the more common ways include:

Use a VPN To Encrypt Your Data

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A VPN, or virtual private network, is a service where you connect to the provider’s servers before sending and receiving data online. It masks your IP address because all the data sent from that server will use one of your provider’s IP addresses instead of yours. As an added security bonus, the best VPN providers for Android and iPhone encrypt your data. VPNs are widely used by business professionals to increase online security and reduce the risk of having their data fall into the wrong hands. It’s also great for improving security when connecting to public networks by minimizing the risk of being hacked. Getting started with a VPN is easy.

  1. Find a reliable VPN service provider.
  2. Sign up according to the provider’s instructions.
  3. Download the provider’s mobile app and configure your settings.
  4. Start browsing anonymously from your phone.

Use a Proxy Server

A proxy server is similar to a VPN, but it’s more limited. That said, it’s free and works well for a one-time use by changing your IP address. To use it:

  1. Search proxy servers online. There are many free options, so they aren’t hard to find.
  2. Configure your browser settings to connect to the proxy server.
  3. Begin your anonymous browsing session.

Note: Proxies only work with the browser you’ve configured it for, so it won’t work with other apps on your phone. Be careful about entering sensitive data when using a proxy.

Use the Tor Browser

Tor is a network of proxy servers that bounces your data between servers to increase anonymity online. You can even run Tor through your VPN to add an extra layer of protection.

  1. Visit torproject.org or find the app in your Android or iOS store.
  2. Download and install the Tor browser.
  3. Open the folder called Tor Browser.
  4. Follow the instructions to either connect directly to the Tor network or to configure your settings.
  5. Launch the browser and begin browsing anonymously. Be aware that Tor doesn’t connect to other apps on your device.

Hiding your IP address means companies can’t track you. It also makes it appear as if your Internet traffic is coming from somewhere else. This can be useful if you’re trying to access a website that isn’t available in your country.

Use a Privacy-Oriented Search Engine

If you’re concerned about companies tracking your data, it’s best to stay away from the bigger search engines like Google and Bing. They track all your search history in order to deliver more targeted search results. It’s one of the reasons hiding your IP address is a good idea because they track your activity by tying it to your IP.

Other lesser-known search engines won’t track your store your data, so you can browse without feeling like someone’s spying on you. StartPage and DuckDuckGo are just some of these search engines that won’t track you online. Simply visit the search engine you like and start browsing!

Send Anonymous Emails

Web browsing isn’t necessarily the only area of the Internet where you’ll want to stay anonymous. Making your email anonymous can help you avoid spam and activity tracking. You can always sign up for new email addresses to register for sites. Ensure that you don’t include any personal information on that account. You’ll want to use a VPN when you set up new accounts so they aren’t tied to your IP address.

Alternatively, you can use services like ProtonMail that hides your email information from searches and works through the Tor network. Not only that, but it encrypts your email data, too. It also featured two-factor authentication and doesn’t ask for your personal information when you sign up, which adds even more security to your emails.

Be Careful With Third-Party Software

One thing to remember about staying anonymous with your Android device or iPhone is that each app accesses your information differently. While you may set up your web browser to be anonymous, your other apps may be able to access and track your personal information. Even if your browser is anonymous, third-party browser plugins may store personal information.

A VPN should work with other apps, but either way, it’s important to proceed with caution and avoid entering personal information if you want to stay anonymous online.

Staying anonymous online isn’t impossible to do if you’re concerned about online security. That said, no single solution is fool-proof, so it’s best to use these types of security measures together to get the most security possible.

These are the best practices to help protect your identity. You can find more helpful resources to further ensure your anonymity online.

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Peter Buttler an Infosec Journalist and Tech Reporter, Member of IDG Network. In 2011, he completed Masters in Cybersecurity and technology. He worked for leading security and tech giants as Staff Writer. Currently, he contributes to a number of online publications, including The Next Web, CSO Online, Infosecurity Mag, SC Magazine, Tripwire, GlobalSign CSO Australia, etc. His favorite areas Online Privacy, AI, IoT, VR, Blockchain, Big Data, ML, Fintech, etc. You can follow him on twitter.

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