Protecting Against Online Tracking
At the beginning of the internet, its intention was to provide people with a platform for learning, sharing opinions, and discussions. Unfortunately, many people have found themselves targeted by attackers who use highly targeted attacks, much like military operations. This is not surprising, as you have left too much personal information about yourself on the internet.
You may think that you are well-suited to disguising yourself online, but can you really completely disconnect yourself from your real identity? This is not something that can be easily solved by simply registering a new account with a different phone number. To improve your defenses, it is important to consciously evaluate the digital footprint you leave behind during your online activities. You can choose to use various strategies or online tools to control them, such as actively removing metadata information and minimizing online data leaks.
What is a digital footprint? Simply put, it is data that can tell others about who you are, where and when you did something. Every day, digital footprints are left behind when you connect to the internet. Opening a browser, visiting a website, connecting to social networking platforms such as twitter and Tieba, posting blog posts, answering phone calls, shopping online, creating live streams, sending and receiving emails - all create specific data about us.
This data can include our name, personality and hobbies, geographical location, sleep patterns, and mental health status, as well as your device name and hardware information. In many cases, this data is voluntarily shared by you, such as uploading a photo of yourself dining with friends on twitter, a train ticket return order, or a shopping delivery record. Or someone mentions your daily life and interests in a post. Mobile applications also collect data from us without our knowledge or consent - for example, location data is often embedded in the photos we take.
We all belong to multiple social spheres - our work or social network, our family network, friends, and teams. We may tend to use more secure communication channels for our work, but the security of interactions with friends on social networks is relatively low. Interactions in these spheres can pose a threat to our security.
If you use a single identity in all spheres, it can be easier to collect everything about you and identify your vulnerabilities. For example, you are an employee of a company participating in the development of a targeted delivery system, and your competitor is very interested in this project, but is unable to breach the internal network due to the company's firewall whitelist. However, you happen to have an account on a social media platform, and one day you reveal that you want to watch a certain movie's BD version but can't find it anywhere. Your competitor can then lure you into downloading spyware or Trojan software by forging a torrent and digital signature. When you remotely log in to work using a VPN, it gains access to the system. This is not surprising, in fact, this example is the simplest application of social engineering. The latest example of social engineering application is hackers obtaining the Twitter account passwords of Obama and others for Bitcoin fraud. If you want to learn more about social engineering, read Kevin Mitnick's "The Art of Deception."
Security is a chain, and any weak link can break the entire system. Here, attackers are well aware of your company's defense measures, but they also know that you have little vigilance over your everyday life data, which is your digital weakness. Attackers can exploit this part of your life, which cannot be encrypted, to gain entry into other encrypted areas.
This is also due to the fact that your work and personal identities are not completely separated, which is why you need to create different identities for different fields. You may also want to continue using various social media platforms without sacrificing privacy, or create multiple anonymous activity accounts online for many other reasons, such as:
Expressing opinions freely under an unconstrained new identity
Creating pseudonymous identities for gaming, short video, and other entertainment platforms
Avoiding large-scale targeted ads and content marketing harassment
Now, let's start creating a brand new, truly anonymous account from scratch!
I Establish a brand new identity.
An identity is a person's appearance or appearance, and it is also an external reflection of a person's inner qualities, including name, personality, and hobbies. Think about how you can fit into the role you want to play.
You should choose common names in the region where the person you are impersonating resides, such as Zhang San or Tom. If you are not sure what name to use, search for popular names in a country/region. As for your account name, be sure not to have any association with your real name or other account names. Do not use the first name that comes to mind, as it will usually expose your personal characteristics or experiences. You need to sever all ties with other identities.
Think about who he is, where he works, what his interests are, and what language style he has. Here, "he" refers to the person you want to impersonate anonymously! You can try to mimic the online behavior of people who know him in real life.
If you find the above troublesome, don't worry. You can achieve this with just a few clicks of the mouse. There is a website called Fake Name Generator. Search for "fakenamegenerator." You can easily pretend to be a person from any country and quickly obtain all detailed personal information, including date of birth, phone number, bank card number, address, and postal code, etc.
You can choose any country you want to use and where you currently wish to be located. Gender is also optional. Then click on "Generate," and it will automatically generate a complete set of personal information.
It will also generate a real email address, which can be used as a temporary address. When you receive an email using this address, a page will immediately pop up showing you the message that was sent to you.
II. Use disposable email and phone numbers
Today, many companies require you to provide at least an email address, which results in you receiving a lot of spam emails, or worse, your email being sold to various mailing lists. Therefore, using a disposable email address makes sense.
Email10min.com is a free service that allows you to create an unlimited number of disposable email addresses. 10-minutemail.com works in a similar way to email10min.com but offers more options such as a web interface, multiple domains, and customizable emails.
As for phone numbers, many platforms now require a phone number for account verification. If your area requires you to provide identification when purchasing a SIM card, you can always opt to get a voip phone number (such as Google Voice).
However, Google Voice is not the best option due to its high cost. Here are a few apps that you might be interested in running on Android and iOS:
This app offers privacy, low prices, and a clean UI. According to its official description, it does not record any of your call logs, which is achieved through VoIP. And most importantly, it accepts bitcoin payment, which can be used anonymously.
It functions similarly to Hushed, but it also includes various reminder features that allow you to set reminders for notifications you previously checked. Additionally, Burner allows you to set a "Do Not Disturb" mode specifically for calls involving its number to prevent any ringing or notifications from appearing on your device.
Although it lacks many of the features of the above two tools, such as integrated third-party tools and end-to-end encryption, it may be your top priority. Because it allows you to get a phone number for free! You can choose to subscribe to determine the period of use of the number, and communication services are provided for over 200 countries by watching ads and videos to earn points. The only thing that may make you uncomfortable is its built-in ads, which require payment to unlock the premium version to remove.
III. Using a Virtual Machine
Do not use your anonymous account on your local operating system because even if you carefully separate various configuration files, you may still make mistakes, such as connecting to the wrong account or being infected with malware. Your anonymous account and everyday account will be associated with each other due to exhibiting the same "browser or system fingerprint."
You can limit the above risks by using different virtual machines for each environment and by keeping another virtual machine to open untrusted attachments to avoid malware infection. For anonymity purposes, the best choice is to install Virtualbox, an open-source cross-platform virtual machine monitor. Of course, you can also choose the commercial Vmware, depending on your preference. Using Virtualbox, you can create a virtual machine and run a Linux operating system such as Whonix, tails, or Kali, the first two of which are specifically developed for anonymity, while the third is designed for hackers and also supports anonymous operations. They are all pre-installed with anonymous software, such as Tor. I do not recommend using Windows. Here is an example:
Download and install it from the official website, the latest version is 6.1.18, and do not forget to perform checksum verification after downloading. The official website provides SHA256 and MD5 checksums. You can also choose to download the extension pack, which is only about 10MB.
IV. Masking Your IP Address
VPN is software that allows you to connect to the Internet through an encrypted tunnel that is routed through a server. If you are working remotely, you often need to use a VPN to connect to the company's intranet.
A qualified VPN should be able to hide your IP address and mask your online identity to hide all your online activities. You can install your VPN on a virtual machine or on your local operating system, and there is not much difference between the two, except that you need to change the local listening port.
V. Creating Your Social Media Profile
To avoid looking like a robot, once you have created a few characters, it is important to separate them from the physical world. A good start is to create different virtual environments, email accounts, and social network accounts for each identity. A good rule of thumb is always to use different applications for each account/identity and to differentiate each device or operating system for different identities if possible.
Therefore, it is recommended that you post more, interact with others, and have a certain number of followers for each identity. But be careful not to associate your anonymous accounts, especially with your real account. Be careful when choosing contacts for each identity and avoid sharing contacts with other identities.
Of course, each identity should provide personal information, including the profile picture and cover photo you use, and photos and videos can display a lot of information that you may not be aware of. Many cameras embed metadata into your photos, which may include the date, time, and location of the photo, camera type, and more. When we upload content to their website, this information is exposed.
Publish using your different identities at different times of the day to disrupt the schedule of your accounts. Some social media platforms have a scheduled post feature, which allows you to better disguise the time zone you are in.
To further distance your real identity from your anonymous identity, you can also post things on the internet that you have never participated in, especially if they happened far away from where you are. To ensure that the fake identity cannot be traced back to us, the created character should have a different experience from us.
VI. Watch your language fingerprint
One important thing to consider is your language fingerprint. As the internet has made communication between us more and more frequent, the language fingerprints we leave behind also provide enticing clues for investigators, especially in the field of author identification, where many academic studies have been published and applied.
Your language style is identifiable, and text analysis recognition tools are increasingly being used. There are now graphical user interface analysis tools that even novices can use easily. With e-books and blogs available anytime, you can quickly analyze almost any author. This enables more and more people to identify the author of specific texts. For example, a real identity can be identified through certain words we write, typical misspellings, and the specific way in which our style and tone are expressed. Alternatively, you can extract the hundred most commonly used words in a blogger's vocabulary. Their usage quantity and frequency are strong reference values that leave the author's "fingerprint" on any word.
To avoid this, you can first use a spell checker in your word processing program to check for consistent spelling errors, and consider adopting a different writing style.
VII. Change your privacy settings
By default, the privacy settings of your account are set by the provider, and are not secure. Please change the settings, such as turning off your location and canceling the association with various accounts. Please refer to the settings in the previous two articles. If possible, use third-party open source platforms.
After completing the above steps, please note that you should not log in to your frequently used account in virtual machine software, otherwise the service provider will easily associate the two accounts.