"Safe", "low-trace" or "anonymous" "surfing" the Internet? What are the differences?

Why you have to decide what you want to reveal on the Internet.

There are still some of my readers who are reluctant to observe. Many also have curtains on the windows at home, and they are reluctant to watch or even be filmed without warning. Well, the mass of users apparently has nothing to hide. (Sarcasm).

But if you want to protect yourself from persecution by companies, advertising companies or even governments on the Internet, you can achieve a lot with few means. The fact that you can leave very little traces of your activities on the Internet is easy, but it becomes more difficult if we want to speak of an "anonymous sigh". So, like many things in life, everything begins with a definition of the terminology.

The transitions between the different concepts are fluid, there are no clear boundaries, but I will try to formulate the most important distinctions.

Low-profile surfing

Low-energy surfing is primarily a protection concept against the ubiquitous tracking and observation to create comprehensive personality profiles, which can then be misused for the manipulation of the person concerned. The focus is not on “anonymity” (eg for risk groups such as whistleblowers).

The term “low-trace” also excludes that you will not leave any traces at all. This means for the user that he can always be exposed to a certain “naming of his activities”. It is simply tried to share as little as possible through negligent settings or willing sharing of own information with visited websites and services. The use of social media and trying not to leave any traces should not be mutually exclusive, because you should be able to choose which information you are willing to share and which you are not willing to share. Using the Internet with minimal traces thus helps to gain more control over your own data, but will be able to keep the user “anonymous”.

Protection against tracking can be achieved through several measures:
Avoid data-gathering services and block tracking elements such as banner ads, anti-social like buttons, JavaScript tracking code, or HTML bugs.
Avoid long-term tracking markers (Cookies, EverCookies).
Disable features that are suitable for browser fingerprinting.

Anonymous surfing

The desire to be able to inquire completely “anonymously” on the Internet is another goal. One has to differentiate here that there can be certain risk groups that also have to protect themselves through targeted surveillance or repression, but there is also the Otto normal surfer, who hardly wants to move but is “anonymous” on the internet. If the law or the government does not want to respect the law, it must fear repression by the power or state apparatus ... etc.

Endangered groups of people.

With the first group of people, measures to prevent surveillance are quite extensive, one also has to consider that there can be not only ONLINE but also conventional surveillance methods and that access and manipulation of one's own devices are also part of one targeted surveillance can be. In this case, it can be assumed that a wide variety of things are used here in combination and therefore increased caution and measures must be taken. That you also renew your own devices, which you will use to communicate or use the Internet, is essential.

The unobtrusive internet user.

Those who actually feel safe from targeted surveillance because they do not count to known risk groups, have it easier, but also in this case some drastic measures have to be taken.

How do you achieve “anonymity”?

Anonymous internet use can be achieved by diving into a sufficiently large group with identical characteristics, so that individual individuals can no longer be distinguished based on characteristics such as the IP address, the browser type, or other things. One of the best known implementations for “anonymity” is therefore the TOR browser, which mixes IP-address as well as browser-IDs in the pool of users and thus leaves individuals unrecognized. Due to strong anonymisation tracking individual individuals to create personality profiles is of course impossible, a positive side effect. But also by different VPN-Services with or without cascades, this effect can be achieved provided the use of a suitable browser and its secure settings are also observed.

Safe browsing

In order to achieve “safe surfing”, the focus is on protecting your own computer and local data against attacks from the Internet. The most important point are regular updates of the browser and the operating system. You can harden (protect) the browser against attacks. But also a virtualization of the surfing environment can protect the local data against successfully compromised browsers. Typical is the use of security software, which is offered for this in a huge market. However, I am skeptical of these solutions, as they are mostly rated or advertised for advertising reasons and less based on their actual function. You should learn to control everything you can control yourself, such as the settings of your own applications and devices. This makes you independent of expensive software and gains control over the security of your own system.


Important NOTE

In addition to technical means, one's own behavior in the network is also crucial to achieving the desired goal. This then belongs to the field Awarness:
Who posts his life on Facebook or Twitter, of course, takes the analysis of the data for marketing purposes or political campaigns in purchasing.
Those who, as whistleblowers, send non-anonymised documents that can be traced back to a small group of people risk their anonymity.
Those who randomly install software from dubious sources such as the ComputerBild website risk the security of their system.


Created on:04/24/2018

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