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What is the best way to browse the Internet safely? By safely I mean:

  • anonymously
  • having encrypted communication

Extra bonus for:

  • being able to do it with little or no performance impact
  • cheaply (without spending too much money on the connection)

I know about VPN which encrypts the whole communication (but which requires the purchase of a service and trust in the provider) and SSL (which not all Internet services support).

What other options are there?

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Don't do what Jason COrnish did, and use a credit card in place offering the 'anonymous' public wifi before then launching an attack: <threatpost.com/en_us/blogs/…; –  DanBeale Aug 21 '11 at 8:22
    
Disagree with your edit Michael, you're not taking encryption into account. –  L. De Leo Aug 21 '11 at 8:26
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If by "safely", you dont mean "anonymously", what exactly DO you mean? Safely doesnt really work here... perhaps you meant "securely"? But that too is very ambiguous. Please clarify. –  AviD Sep 5 '11 at 18:28
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7 Answers

What is the best way to browse the Internet anonymously?

Best is difficult when you havn't given the parameters of interest.

  1. Get cash.
  2. Get a deck of standard playing cards.
  3. Shuffle the deck of cards at least seven times.
  4. Remove everything from your person except locally acceptable clothing, the playing cards, and the cash.
  5. Walk to the nearest public transit.
  6. Board the first public transit vehicle that arrives.
  7. After boarding the vehicle draw a card from the deck. Use the value of the card to determine how many stops to wait before exiting the vehicle. If the value of the card is greater than the number of stops remaining, then modulo the value by the number of stops remaining.
  8. Exit at the stop determined in step 7.
  9. Board the next public transit vehicle that arrives.
  10. repeat step 7.
  11. When you exit at the stop draw another card.
  12. Ask someone where the nearest internet cafe is. If they don't know or are unhelpful continue asking until you have asked as many people as are indicated by the card drawn in step 11.
  13. If you asked the number of people indicated by the card drawn in step 10 and dont recieve a satisfactory answer go back to step 9.
  14. Walk to the internet cafe.
  15. When you reach the internet cafe draw a card from the deck.
  16. Look for someone who is leaving, offer them cash from the reaminder of their time.
  17. If you don't see anyone leaving wait the number of minutes represented by the card drawn in step 14.
  18. If you wait the number of minutes and do not spot someone leaving, pay for your own session.
  19. Don't use any existing accounts. Don't chat with or email any aquaintences. Don't use any personally identifing information. Use the deck of card to generate usernames and passwords. Use the internet cafe's address and phone number for registration information.
  20. Go home. Do not take anything physical back from the internet cafe. Never reuse the accounts, usernames, or passwords from your session at the internet cafe.
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In the UK your face is now on several CCTV systems - the public transit systems; the streets; any shops you passed; etc etc. –  DanBeale Aug 21 '11 at 8:58
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@DanBeale: Oh shi... –  Hubert Kario Aug 21 '11 at 11:23
    
@DanBeale And how does that make it less difficult to trace the individual? It is far more difficult to connect the IP address from an internet cafe to a named person, than to connect an IP address of a home connection to a named person. Consider the steps in the home connection: lookup provider, ask provider for billing information, find the usual occupants of the home, narrow to individual. –  this.josh Aug 22 '11 at 2:50
    
@DanBeale Now for the scenario I described: lookup provider, ask for billing information, ask for security tapes, find image of individual, canvas area for eye witnesses and other video, trace back to last transit stop, trace back to last transit entrance, trace back to first transit stop, trace back to first first transit entrance, trace back to home, indentify usual occupants of the home, match image to named individual. There are a lot more step to trace back to an individual. Additionally, unless the individual is never out in public they will be on several CCTV systems anyway. –  this.josh Aug 22 '11 at 3:04
    
+1 for interesting answer. The question is very broadly asked and defines pretty much no boundaries making @this.josh answer as appropriate as any other. It certainly addresses the aspect of anonymity and performance. –  Christoffer Aug 22 '11 at 7:17
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The best way to surf the internet anonymously is with TOR. But of course there is going to be a performance impact. Even tor isn't perfect, you could do somthing foolish like download a word document which links to an image which will spill your ip address.

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Even if you don't do something something stupid, there are weaknesses in Tor. –  naught101 Dec 14 '12 at 3:01
    
I like how the TOR custom firefox browser comes with HTTPS-everywhere, disables JavaScript and more such addons. –  sashoalm Apr 10 at 4:57
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  • Proxies
  • VPN
  • HTTPS (not avaiable on all servers)

But I think that these 3 are main

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Proxies don't provide encryption though. Maybe browsers could be instructed by default (through a plugin or a setting) to try connect to https and fallback to http if that fails. –  L. De Leo Aug 20 '11 at 18:01
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@L.DeLeo: this one? –  genesis Aug 20 '11 at 18:04
    
Good catch, apparently Firefox now defaults to https when it can, although I cannot find any confirmation of it. –  L. De Leo Aug 20 '11 at 22:18
    
@L.DeLeo: I think that's only for a few major site (like google). But there' a plugin for firefox called HTTPS Everywhere that extends that to many other sites. –  naught101 Dec 14 '12 at 2:40
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There are many proxy networks around with different layers of security, Tor, Freenet, I2P etc.

As mentioned these are not completely secure and can leak identifiable information about you and your system.

Depending on which country you are based creating a VPN to a VPS offshore will cause great difficulty to discover who you actually are. The VPS must be set up correctly to not keep access logs and such forth. It is possible yet difficult though. These can be then hooked up via Tor to create extended layers of protection.

To be completely secure is not an easy task though, not cheap either if done properly.

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Use TOR/proxys/VPN and firefox with mods, some to strip adds and other to mask headers etc. If you google it you should fine loads of mods available. By mods I mean addons.

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There are a few websites out there like Anonymizer that can get you some of what you are after. (no affiliation.)

Or, depending on what you're after, you might get what you need simply by surfing through your company's VPN. Obviously they can see everything you're up to, but if they're not who you're hiding from, it might be a good trade-off.

With all of these ideas and suggestions, I can't emphasize enough that you really have to make an effort to understand what you're doing. This is a very tricky subject, and lots of work has been done in the field. Look at docs on the Tor project website for an introduction to some of the issues here.

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Well you can install a few plugins to help you not to stray into bogus/unsafe websites. A few suggestions might be

  1. Keep your browser up to date.
  2. Do Not enter information on new/unheard of websites.
  3. Do a background check before you purchase something online.
  4. Use online tools like Norton safe web, McAfee site adviser etc to check information about a website.
  5. Browser extensions like WOT(Web of Trust) help a lot. Its shows the trustworthiness of a website in the form of Traffic lights. RED is a big NO and means that something is fishy about that website.
  6. Also check if a website is known for Phishing scams at Phishtank.

Source: http://www.speedmango.com/how-to-determine-if-a-website-is-safe/

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