When it comes to anonymous surfing, you will probably have a lot of ideas in mind to conceal your identity. You can use either free or paid tools which both have the ability to hide your IP and your original geographic location and give you an identity protection online.
But regardless of what tools you use to hide your IP address and your original location, you must always make sure that your geographic information is not totally exposed. Otherwise, your online privacy might be put at risk.
Although there are several tools and processes you can implement, not all of these approach are the same. Each has a unique purpose and anonymity level. Therefore, you need to be aware how secure your connection before you sit back and relax.
In this article, I’ll try to identify and differentiate the anonymity tool, browser and IP you can use for your safety.
The Onion Router (TOR)
TOR is a software based application that is used as internet browser to connect to the internet. This is in fact your absolute open source application for anonymous surfing. TOR has the ability to change your original location consecutively within a minute of browsing which gives you a total anonymity and untraceable online activities.
TOR is commonly used by journalists, activists and countries with restrictions to what websites they can visit. Because it is nearly impossible to locate your original location when you are in TOR mode.
How TOR Works
TOR connects to random number of computer servers (nodes). Which means, before your HTTP requests reach its destination, it will go through a series of nodes that slows down the process of your request back and fort.
The nodes are run by volunteers around the world that supports TOR. This means, the more nodes available you can use to remain anonymity, the slower it gets to finish your HTTP requests.
Advantages of Using TOR
- TOR can enable you to access geographically blocked websites
- TOR gives you an ultimate anonymity of internet browsing
- TOR is an open source software which means, Free.
- Your IP is not traceable
Disadvantages of Using TOR
- Slow internet connection – Since TOR jumps from one node to another, it will take time before the data loads on your TOR browser.
- Slow download or streaming
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Virtual Private Network (VPN) is also a secured option you can implement for high level of anonymity in public or private connections. This protects you from exposing your online activities to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) whenever you access online because there is no direct connection between user and internet.
(Computer –> Internet)
(Computer –> Secured server –> Internet)
How VPN works
When you connect to the internet, you are not directly visiting the website through a network provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Instead, you will reroute to a private server provided by your VPN provider referred to as VPN tunnel.
The data encryption happens in the tunnel. This means, your ISP is totally blind of your internet activities and only your VPN provider can see your online behavior.
Advantages of Using a VPN
- Your ISP or Government cannot track your internet activities
- You can unblock websites restricted in your area or network setup
- Fast file transfer over the internet such as torrent
- Secure remote computer access whenever you are accessing your computer from
- High level of anonymity online
- You can run software based applications to play console games or stream videos.
Disadvantages of Using a VPN
- Subscription fee is required either monthly or yearly basis
- Your VPN provider can see your internet activities (but kept in secret)
- Your traffic can show low speed connection compare to regular internet speed connection.
Web Proxy is very similar with TOR and VPN in terms of concealing your identity. However, the level of anonymity when using a web proxy is low compare to the others. With Web Proxy, a user connects to the internet through a web proxy server which is either transparent, distorting, high anonymity or anonymous proxy before you reach the website you intended to visit.
The level of your anonymity depends on what type of web proxy you are using. So it is up to you which server to use for anonymous browsing via web proxy.
Advantages of Using Web Proxy
- You can easily initiate an anonymity online without spending anything
- Can improve your internet surfing experience by quickly loading your requested pages through cached data.
- You can easily unblock websites restricted by your network administrator, internet provider or even geographic restriction.
Disadvantages of Using Web Proxy
- The frame of web proxy is visible on the website you are visiting which can be annoying
- Your level of protection can be tracked back if intended to do so
- Your information such as account login information is visible to web proxy server
- A possibility of outdated cache web page information
A proxy server acts as intermediary for requests from clients seeking requests from other servers. This also hides your identity online and unblock websites that are restricted to load in your network. However, you will need to find available proxy server to use and configure yourself to change your IP address.
While your anonymity level is not high level compare to VPN and TOR, this is a little better than Web Proxy because won’t see the web proxy frame whenever you see a website which is somehow a good deal for someone using a free service of anonymity.
Advantages of Using Proxy Server
- You can change your geographic location and access blocked websites
- You can protect your privacy from attackers
- You can select a type of connection you prefer HTTP/HTTPS/SSL
- You can choose what country to use as your geographic location
Disadvantages of Using Proxy Server
- Proxy servers IP are mostly blocked
- Proxy servers show poor internet connection
- You need to consequently change the proxy server your are using whenever your proxy gets blocked