Logging onto websites from work or home allows the site owners to trace your IP address, which can sometimes help them narrow down your location. Tor is a browser bundle that bounces your traffic to computers all over the world before it hits the site you’re trying to reach, keeping your location anonymous. Women’s shelters like Transition House in Boston use it to help women access web services without leaving a digital trail for abusers.
Tor can sometimes be slow. Some sites require Tor users to enter captchas to prove you’re human, so it may not be ideal for daily use. But you can use it selectively when needed, like when you’re under online attack and want to protect your physical location. Just be aware that using Tor makes it look like you are logging into accounts from unusual locations, so don’t be surprised if you get a warning message to that effect from your email account, for example.
Download the Tor Browser Bundle here: https://www.torproject.org/
Instead of going anonymous, you can also use pay to install a commercial VPN or virtual private network to encrypt your data as it travels over Wi-Fi in a hotel, internet café, or other public network. While browsers like Chrome and Firefox have options for “incognito” mode, these browser options don’t hide your IP address. Additionally, incognito mode require you to re-enter passwords for password-protected sites for each session.
Yael Grauer is a freelance tech journalist covering online privacy and surveillance for WIRED, Forbes, Slate, and other publications. Find her at http://yaelwrites.com or on Twitter @yaelwrites, and check out her free ebook on staying safer online at https://yaelwrites.com/saferonline.pdf.