Surfing the Web Anonymously

XPHacks

To surf anonymously with an anonymous proxy server, follow these steps:

  1. Find an anonymous proxy server. There are hundreds of free, public proxy servers available, but many frequently go offline or are very slow. To find the best one, go to http://www.atomintersoft.com/products/alive-proxy/proxy-list. The web site lists information about each server, including its average response time, uptime, and the last time the server was checked.
  2. Find the server with the highest percentage of uptime and write down its IP address and the port it uses. For example, in the following listing 212.170.23.82:80, the IP address is 212.170.23.82, and the port number is 80.
  3. In Internet Explorer, select Tools->Internet Options, click the Connections tab, and click the LAN Settings button.
  4. Check the Use a proxy server for your LAN box. In the Address field, type in the IP address of the proxy server. In the Port field, type in its port number. Check the Bypass proxy server for local addresses box; you don't need to remain anonymous on your local network.
  5. Click OK and then OK again to close the dialog boxes.

Now when you surf the web, the proxy server will protect your privacy. Keep in mind that proxy servers can make surfing the web much slower.

You can also download a piece of software to automatically configure your browser to use anonymous proxy servers, and find the fastest one. GhostSurf (http://www.tenebril.com/products/ghostsurf) uses multiple anonymous proxy servers and always looks for the fastest one. The software costs $29.95, but you can download a free, 15-day trial.

Simply browsing the web leaves you vulnerable to privacy invasions by web sites. They can track your online travels, know what operating system and browser you're running, peer into your clipboard, uncover the last sites you visited, examine your history list, delve into your browser cache, and examine your IP address to learn basic information about you, such as your geographic location, and more. In short, your life is an open book.

Using an anonymous proxy server can protect your privacy by hiding all these details and more from web sites. An anonymous proxy server sits between you and the web sites you visit. Instead of contacting a web site directly, your browser tells a proxy server which web site you want to visit. That way, the web site sees the proxy server, not your PC. It can't read your cookies, find out your IP address, see your history list, or examine your clipboard and cache. It can't probe your system at all because your PC is never in direct contact with it. You can surf anonymously, without a trace.