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How to Become Digitally Anonymous



Anonymity and overall security go hand in hand. If you neglect the security of your devices, it directly affects the integrity of your personal information.


This article does not advocate not disclosing any data about yourself on the Internet. It is about being able to decide freely and independently in which data is disclosed.


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You want to have more privacy on the Internet and in your digital communication, without going too far at the same time? Good for you!


💬 MESSAGING APPS


You should first look at your day-to-day messaging apps. This is where you share the most sensitive information and accordingly where you should have very high expectations. Only three messaging apps - Signal, Threema, and Wire - can currently stand up to serious standards. Their advantages are:


Company & infrastructure jurisdiction: Wire has its company jurisdiction in Switzerland and its infrastructure jurisdiction in Germany and Ireland. With Threema, both are in Switzerland.

Funding: Signal is funded by, among others, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the Knight Foundation, and the Open Technology Fund. Threema is financed exclusively from user fees. 

Cooperation with intelligence agencies: Signal, Threema, and Wire are not implicated in giving customers' data to intelligence agencies as opposed to iMessage, Skype, Facebook Messenger, and others.


WARNING: remember this ' as long as your smartphone is not under surveillance or already infected by some kind of spyware or malware', all the above mentioned secure communication apps will not help! They are already inside your smartphone and are able to see all your messaging activity and listen to all your voice calls!


Don't use WhatsApp Saying WhatsApp is trustworthy because it offers end-to-end encryption is as naive as claiming that the NSA doesn't spy on you because it's illegal. WhatsApp is underperforming in every conceivable digital privacy category.


📧 SECURE EMAIL


Maybe we don't use them as frequently as messaging apps - but still we communicate via email quite often. And again, there are companies that offer clear advantages in terms of digital anonymity.


I recommend ProtonMail because here, as with Threema, the company and infrastructure jurisdiction lie in Switzerland.


ProtonMail is clearly committed to the privacy and anonymity of its users. No private information such as date of birth or mobile phone number has to be provided when registering. The free package only comes with 500MB of storage, but can be upgraded to 5-20GB using the paid services (at reasonable costs).ProtonMail offers end-to-end encryption for which the recipient of a message must also use ProtonMail. Alternatively, you can communicate via PGP , for which ProtonMail by default assigns a private and a public key, which you can find in the settings.

Other email providers that are considered secure and trustworthy:


Tutanota is located in Hanover, Germany. Every mail and attachment sent is automatically encrypted by the open source webmail client and no IP information is retained after sending.


Hushmail offers easy to use web and desktop clients. It's based in Canada and many users feel particularly secure due to Hushmail's many years of experience - it has already been on the market for 20 years.


LuxSci might be the right choice if you’re looking for a business email solution and you’re based in North America. LuxSci is from Massachusetts and offers a suite of secure communications tools. Packages come with 1-50GB of storage.


📶 PUBLIC WLAN

Public WLAN represents a security risk and can undermine your digital anonymity. There is, of course, a way to avoid the dangers of wireless communication: Use WLAN only where you can be sure that not only the operator of the access point but also the other users are trustworthy.


Besides that, you should follow these guidelines:


Block unencrypted networks: Both notebooks and smartphones automatically connect to all the networks they think they already know because they used a network of the same name in the past. So the first thing you have to do is to clean out this list and in particular throw out all unencrypted networks that you may have used in the past.


Keep an eye on https:// or set bookmarks: In order to avoid that you inadvertently call up an unencrypted URL when typing, for example by auto-completion, it is best to place a bookmark on the https login page, which you then use consistently.


Caution with certificate errors: Error reports about certificates should generally not be taken lightly. The risk of an attack is particularly high in public networks, where anyone can redirect and manipulate data traffic. The error messages could, therefore, be traced back to a man-in-the-middle attack.


Rather do without apps: As a user, you normally don't have the possibility to adjust the security settings of smartphone apps in depth. Even with many banking apps, studies have shown a significant vulnerability to man-in-the-middle attacks on encryption.


Make use of VPN: If you want to be on the safe side that possible eavesdroppers in foreign W-Lens do not record any plain text data, you can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).


🍪 COOKIES


Almost all pages on the Internet make use of cookies. That's no reason to get agonal respiration. But the proficient handling of cookies is a fundamental step towards more power over your privacy. It makes sense to delete cookies regularly. The more often you delete cookies, the less transparent your web behavior will be.

Roughly speaking, cookies can be divided into two groups:


The first is the so-called session cookies. They ensure that websites can remember you. Without these session cookies, the Internet would be far less comfortable.


The cookies that are criticized more frequently are tracking cookies.


Because not only websites themselves store cookies in your browser, but so do many of the advertising banners that are displayed to you. This means that even if you visit a single website, several cookies can still be stored in your browser.

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