How important is online anonymity to you?


A blog on PCWorld outlines some tips on how to surf the web in secret, which may be a good idea given the many methods that website operators and advertisers use to track visitors. Knowing is half the battle, argues Brad Chacos, who highlighted how websites are able to track visitors through their IP addresses or the use of text cookies, Flash Cookies or Silverlight Cookies.

To prevent yourself from leaking your IP address all over the Internet, Chacos starts off by suggesting the use of web-based proxies that allow you to type in the URL of the website to visit anonymously. Another option would be to point your browser to an open proxy server, or use a VPN; the latter may offer superior speed for folks who don't mind paying for a premium service. Finally, another well-known choice for online anonymity would be the Tor network, which routes Internet traffic through several random Tor servers on its way to the final destination.

For those who consider anonymity to be really important, another option would be to consider setting up a virtual machine just for browsing the Internet. Configure the VM to connect to the Internet using a VPN, and set it to discard all changes made to disk in order to automatically discard all cookies.

One glaring downside of online anonymity that may not be obvious to newcomers is the likelihood of having a slower Internet experience when using the above setup.

Would you put up with a slow Internet experience just for the sake of anonymity? As usual, you can send your thoughts to me via Twitter, email, or in a comment below. I Look forward to hearing from you! - Paul Mah  (Twitter @paulmah)