As you're viewing this page, my server is recording information about you. Don't panic, it's nothing out of the ordinary as just about every server does as part of normal logging processes. Here's an example of the kind of information my server is grabbing.
The case for anonymous surfing
Just because you want to surf the web anonymously, it doesn't make you paranoid or up to no good; as mentioned, it can just be a case of wanting a higher degree of privacy.
Anonymous surfing tools
At its most basic, to surf relatively anonymously you still access the web by
dialing in or connecting to your ISP/network. but instead of using your ISP's proxy server and using a different proxy server, any web site you visit will see the anonymous proxy server location as the referrer instead of your true location. At this most simple level, other details will still be recorded such as search terms used to access the site, your browser and operating system type, etc. - to hide those and to encrypt transmissions, you'll need better tools.
Anonymous proxy lists
This is probably the most hit and miss method and requires you to reconfigure your browser - sites such as Proxy 4 Free constantly scan for anonymous proxy server IP addresses that are "available" to use. As available proxies come and go, this can be a pretty frustrating and time consuming way to gain even a basic level of anonymity. Additionally, some of the proxy addresses in these lists may be private and not meant for public use.
Anonymous proxy web apps
There's a plethora of free online applications where you enter the URL of the site you wish to visit and off you go - no browser configuration required. These are quite handy for short surfing sessions and may include more advanced features such as encryption, the ability to block ads or certain page elements. Often the free services will display their own ads, throttle bandwidth or limit sessions to X megabytes to encourage you to pay for unrestricted and ad free access. There are so many of these services around, so you need to be a little careful as some are fronts for phishing and malware.
Computer based secure tunnel applications
Probably some of the best anonymity apps I've tried have consisted of a software client you install on your computer that create a virtual private network (VPN) between your computer or even iPhone and the provider's Internet gateway. After that, it's hands free operation.
Probably something worth clarifying is the claim to anonymity - these services offer far more in terms of privacy than just normal browsing, but remember that while the sites you visit won't know who you are, the service providing the anonymity will - and these services are subject to laws in their respective countries that require them to turn over server logs to law enforcement authorities under some circumstances; although they often destroy their logs within a few days. But unless you're up to something illegal or at best highly questionable, that is really no cause for concern.
In the interests of transparency and disclosure, please note that the owner of Taming the Beast.net often receives goods and services mentioned in reviews for free, or may receive payments or affiliate commissions for advertising or referring others to merchants of products and services reviewed.
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