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/
You can also install a commercial virtual private network (VPN) 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 requires you to re-enter passwords for password-protected sites for each session.
You should avoid using VPNs that offer a free service. When you use free VPNs, you become the product as services sell your data in order to make a profit. There are good services that provide free or trial periods for a limited cap on browsing.
There are many criteria for picking a VPNs. You want to look for a VPN service that:
- does not maintain activity log (no logging policy);
- has a headquarters that is in a country with good data and privacy laws;
- has a good reputation and business model;
- have multiple server locations.
Private Internet Access: https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/
ProtonMail VPN: https://protonvpn.com/ (free if you have a paid ProtonMail account)
Mozilla VPN: https://vpn.mozilla.org/
RiseupVPN (by donation, trusted, open source VPN) https://riseup.net/en/vpn
Check out more of our digital hygiene tips:
- Removing public data
- Privacy protection on domain names
- Https everywhere
- Anonymous “Tor” cloak or VPN
- Prepare for a DDos attack
- Two-step verification
- Privacy plug-ins/cookies
- Third-party permissions
- Image “hidden pixels”
- Links and attachments
- Install patches and updates
- Use a password manager/strong password
- Strengthen security questions
- Encrypt hard drive/backup data
- Click to play
- Use end-to-end encryption