In this article, I will be discussing how one can stay 99.99% anonymous on the internet (in theory). I did not say 100% anonymous because there is always a chance of some slip-up on your side, or, someone close to you figuring out what you are up to, or, some genius detective like Sherlock figuring out who and where you really are by finding some pattern or something!
NOTE: This article is meant for educational purposes only. If you are going to use it in real life, you must use the knowledge obtained from this article only for legal activites (like reporting about the illegal activities of a big organization, speaking your views about a sensitive topic, making people aware of a conspiracy, etc.) where protecting your identity and your location is a must. You should not indulge in any criminal activities using this technique and if you decide to do so, I am not to be held accountable for it. I am just a teacher.
The ‘Why Do You Need To Hide Bro’?
Privacy has become a joke now. Most of the simple and quick tips you will find on the web to attain online anonymity are useless. With different government agencies (like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency, etc.) and several private companies (with the most popular one being Google) spying and snooping on you , you do not have any choice but to make extra efforts to protect your privacy. These companies already know more about you than your own mother!
Also, most of you must have used Tor web browser and thought of it as the solution to online anonymity. While it may be possible to avoid being tracked when you are using only Tor web browser, staying fully anonymous online requires a few more steps and a common sense as well. You must have heard about the famous case of the Harvard student Eldo Kim, who was deanonymized by the fact that he was the only person using Tor on his campus’ network at the time the email was sent. Let that be an example to you demonstrating that only Tor is not sufficient.
Stay anonymous online benefits anyone who does sensitive work on their desktop. This includes:
- Investigators and whistleblowers whose work threaten the powerful.
- Researchers, government officials, or businesspeople who may be targets of espionage.
- Political activists under targeted surveillance and attack.
- Average computer users who simply don’t want all or some aspect of their private lives uploaded, saved, and analyzed.
- Average computer users in a repressive or censored environment.
- Journalists who endanger themselves and their families by reporting on organized crime.
User >> VPN >> Tor (Whonix) >> Internet
User >> Debian >> Hacked WAP Router (Illegal and Optional) >> VPN >> Tor (Whonix) >> Internet
Before beginning your journey towards staying completely anonymous online, you must follow and do a couple of things. These things are pretty obvious (like I said earlier, common sense is needed).
The first and the most important thing you must understand and follow is that while using the method that I will be discussing further in this article to surf the internet, you must not go ahead and use/login any one of your old normal accounts online like Gmail or Facebook (DUH!). That might nullify your hard work of staying anonymous. Basically, try to keep two separate identities over the internet. One for the usual day-to-day work, and one for the anonymous work.
Also, if you can, securely erase your Hard Drive Disk before starting. This greatly mitigates any unforeseeable risks. Based on what activities you are doing while staying anonymous, if you get deanonymized due to any reason, you might either end up in jail or be killed by a group. So, know what you are getting into.
2. Debian (optional)
Instead of using Windows, you may (should) use a clean install of Debian. Also, make sure that you enable full disk encryption (the password should be a minimum of 30 characters to eliminate any risks in case you get caught or something). Although this step is optional, the more steps you follow, the closer you get to being a 100% anonymous on the internet as well as safe in case of any mishappening.
3. Hacked Wireless Access Point Router (illegal; not recommended; difficult)
Now, I do not follow this step because I do not know how to do it (as I am no good at hacking). Also, breaking into other people’s networks without their consent is illegal. But if you do not want to leave any stone unturned in order to stay anonymous (say in case you want to leak a video of Donald Trump killing someone ), this might be one crucial step. You will have to learn this someplace else.
4. VPN (Virtual Private Network)
Choose from one of the best VPN service providers out there. I am not gonna disclose which VPN service I use, but I can give you two options. NordVPN and ExpressVPN. Both of them are very similar (although I prefer NordVPN over ExpressVPN for you guys for no good reason). ExpressVPN’s servers are based in the British Virgin Islands and NordVPN’s servers are operated under the jurisdiction of Panama.
The following are some of the features of these two VPN service providers (and also the features that should be there in the VPN service you choose):
- No Logs Policy
- Tor Over VPN
- Automatic Kill Switch
- Very Fast Speed
- Very High Number Of Servers Worldwide
- Strong Encryption
- Bitcoins Accepted
- Multiple Devices Supported
“No Logs Policy” means that the VPN service provider never logs the activities of their users. So that means that there is no record on their end. So even if someone with authority asks anything to them, the best they can do is shrug their shoulders.
I strictly condemn using any free VPNs. The paid ones are not very costly if you purchase them for a lengthy period of time (like 1 or 2 years). Also, if you do not want to spend, just try their service for one month. They both (NordVPN and ExpressVPN) have 30 Day Money Back Guarantee, so you will get your paid money back after a few days if you cancel. After you’ve purchased a VPN service provider (which most probably should be NordVPN or ExpressVPN), install their software and connect to their network to start reaping the benefits of your investment.
Also, I would recommend making your payment to the VPN service provider using bitcoins. Quite obvious why.
5. Virtual Environment And Tor
Here is a short explanation about Whonix. Whonix is a desktop operating system which makes online anonymity possible via fail-safe, automatic, and desktop-wide use of the Tor network. Whonix consists of two parts. One solely runs Tor and acts as a gateway, which we call Whonix-Gateway. The other, which we call Whonix-Workstation, is on a completely isolated network. Only connections through Tor are possible. It is said that DNS leaks are impossible, and not even malware with root privileges can find out the user’s real IP.
- Download VirtualBox, Whonix-Gateway, and Whonix-Workstation.
- Install VirtualBox.
- Open VirtualBox and import the two downloaded *.ova files (one by one) into VirtualBox. To do this, click on File and then click on Import Appliance.
IMPORTING WHONIX GATEWAY
IMPORTING WHONIX WORKSTATION IN THE SAME WAY
- Once both the *.ova files have been imported, start Whonix Gateway. Follow the basic procedure, understand the terms, and wait a minute or two.
It should look like this.
- Now start Whonix Workstation in a similar manner. Follow the basic procedure, understand the terms, and wait a minute or two.
It should look like this.
EVERYTHING YOU DO (like surfing the dark web, downloading files, or even surfing the normal web) IS TO BE DONE ON WHONIX-WORKSTATION.
Here is a picture demonstrating the working of Whonix. This is the reason why we are going through the hassle of using Whonix via VirtualBox in the first place.
Just like I said above, all the surfing that you want to do while staying anonymous must be done on the Whonix Workstation. The VPN will keep on running side by side and add another layer of protection. You need to make sure you have a speed internet connection (like at least 10 Mbps) if you want a reasonably pleasant experience.
Do not interchange between your anonymous surfing and your non-anonymous surfing very often as there is a chance you are gonna make a small mistake and get caught.
So, that was it. Also, I forgot to mention that if you live in countries (like India, Pakistan, etc.) where a lot of sites are blocked, then even if you do not use Tor and a Virtual Environment, and just use a VPN (say when you just want to surf normally on the internet with good speed), you will be able to access all those blocked sites. I hope you learned how to stay almost 100% anonymous on the internet (dark web and deep web). Hopefully, you will implement these procedures and protect your privacy. OR. OR. You will succumb to the evil forces of the government and private companies and not adopt this method, in which case, good luck!
I would once again like to remind you that I have not taught this technique of staying anonymous online to you all so that you can indulge in any illegal activities. Please only use the power of anonymity for the good of mankind (like for whistleblowing, investigation, reporting of crime, etc.). I am not to be held liable in case you indulge in any of the following acts:
- Pornography, adult or mature content.
- Violent content.
- Content related to racial intolerance or advocacy against any individual, group or organization.
- Excessive profanity.
- Hacking/cracking content.
- Illicit drugs and drug paraphernalia content.
- Sales of beer or hard alcohol.
- Sales of tobacco or tobacco-related products.
- Sales of prescription drugs.
- Sales of weapons or ammunition (e.g. firearms, firearm components, fighting knives, stun guns.
- Sales of products that are replicas or imitations of designer or other goods.
- Sales or distribution of coursework or student essays.
- Content regarding programs which compensate users for clicking ads or offers, performing searches, surfing websites or reading emails.
- Any other content that is illegal, promotes illegal activity or infringes on the legal rights of others.
If you liked this article, please share it with your friends. Comment below if you have any doubts or even if you just want to appreciate my efforts! Any tips or advice or criticism are very welcome.