Hygiene
in The Digital Public Square

You’re less incognito than you think.

Malicious apps, theft, spam, cyber stalking, censorship, surveillance.
There are no foolproof answers to risk online.
But there is advice to help.

Begin
I want to be anonymous connecting to the web

I want to be anonymous connecting to the web

Disassociating your true identity from an IP address assigned to your device usually requires a change of your physical location – a public place – to connect to the Internet from. Using a wifi hot-spot or going to an Internet cafe will give you some degree of anonymity (especially if those places are not running CCTV or force you to register with an ID before using their services). Bear in mind that once connected you need to consider the following concerns that may de-anonymise you on the local network:

  • Software on your computer. Your Internet browser and many other tools, including malware, may reveal your identity on the network. Use a live operating system such as Tails or Whonix on your computer to ensure that there is no history or malicious tools during your session.
  • Hardware on your computer. In particular your network card (connecting you to the wired or wireless network) has a unique identifier called a Media Access Control (MAC) address. It can be used to identify your computer’s actions on the network. However you can spoof this address using built-in techniques or a tool like SpoofMac. Tails also allows you to create a fake MAC address for every session.
  • The services you access online (e.g. your Facebook page) may also correlate your current IP address to your identity. Use the built-in Tor Browser from the Tails or Whonix operating systems.

The situation is much more complicated (regarding anonymity) when accessing the Internet from your smartphone. Please refer to the section on Protecting your phone for more details.


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