Have you ever wondered how secure your online browsing is? Also, do you know that in countries in Europe and the US, ISPs are required by law to register and withhold your traffic logs for at least 6 months? This means that anyone looking into your browsing history will know exactly which sites you visited, for how long and what you downloaded.
And this invasion of privacy is even more outrageous if you think about the fact that most regular Internet users don’t even engage in criminal activities! But governmental organizations use criminals as a reason to spy on everyone.
If by any chance this doesn’t bother you, there are other online entities that want a piece of your traffic log. Big companies (like Google) who make their living by selling online ads need to learn your behavior so they’ll know which ad to show and when. Thus, your online activity is monitored 24/7.
What is Online Anonymity?
In this day and age, being online and staying connected is of uttermost importance. We meet our significant other online, we chat with family and friends, and we share some of our deepest thoughts online. But these are not for everyone to see (even though they are online). So how do you go about getting anonymous online?
Well, for us to discuss that, we need to discuss online anonymity and what it means. First, you should know that there is a plethora of anonymous VPN service out there. All providers try to sell you this part because it works. However, not many people understand what it means.
Being anonymous online doesn’t mean that your actions won’t be registered; it just means that no one will know it was you who did those actions. Because you are using an anonymous VPN software, there won’t be a way to connect your actions online with your real person. The VPN hides your real identity and assigns you a different IP thus shielding you from any prying eyes.
To make things even more difficult to find, some of the best anonymous VPN service out there use shared IP addresses. This means that two or more users share the same IP and this way no one can tell who went where.
But what does it mean when providers say they offer complete anonymity? Are you really hidden from the eyes of the world? Can you really do whatever you want? Well, sadly the answer is no. If you engage in fraudulent activities you will be found and put to pay.
So, how does an anonymous VPN work? Well, first of all, you should know that the VPN service will hide your actions from the rest of the world, but it will see everything you do. This happens because you are actually using their servers to browse online. Now, it all depends on the logs they keep.
Reliable VPN services will clearly state the types of logs they keep and for what. The ones that are most important to a user are called traffic logs and some VPN services are required by law to keep them.
Other logs that are kept by VPN have maintenance and safety purposes – so they can identify users who don’t understand that anonymity is both a right and a responsibility in the online world.
How to Evaluate Your Anonymous VPN
Now that you have a better understanding of what online anonymity actually is and how it works, it’s time to think about the best VPN service and what they offer from this point of view. But before we go through the best anonymous VPNs out there, let’s see what features actually make them the best.
The No Logs Promise
If you are currently looking for a provider, then you must have noticed that everyone promises that there will be ‘no logs’. However, once you dig a bit deeper (usually under Terms and Conditions or the Privacy claim) you find out that there are some logs kept. Even more, some of the shady providers will promise no logs but they will keep them anyways.
The best way to identify a reliable VPN in this case is to make sure to read reviews. Also, check where the company is based; if they are in the US or UK and Europe, they will definitely keep logs.
One solution to online anonymity is the shared IP. This means that a few hundred (sometimes even thousand) users are assigned several static shared IPs making it difficult to identify each user’s actions. However, when you share an IP with so many users, security issues may arise. So it is not recommended to access delicate accounts (financial or personal) when using a shared IP address. These are most recommended when using P2P networks.
Email Address Protection
Our email addresses are quite personal and, sadly, not so secure. Regardless of the fact that you use a public or a paid service, your email can be hacked and your life turned upside down. When you use a VPN service, you add another extra layer of protection which makes it more difficult to sniff out. Even more, some solutions offer specially designed packages for email protection.
Another way that someone can connect a VPN user account with your real-life person is the payment method. I mean, all the encryption in the world can’t guarantee your anonymity if you simply pay for your account with PayPal or credit card. These are easily traceable.
The best payment method that an anonymous VPN could use is Bitcoins. These are untraceable and accepted by most reliable service. Another untraceable method would be cash deposits but these are quite rare and not so many solutions accept them.
VPN with Tor
Both VPN service and Tor are concerned with users’ anonymity and when you combine the two there is an extra layer of security involved. However, you should keep in mind that Tor is slower and it will slow your entire connection down.
The best VPN provider to use with Tor are AirVPN, BolehVPN, and NordVPN. These mention Tor in their offer and even give users detailed instructions on how to make the installation and configuration.
The best anonymous VPN
So, now that we know a bit more about anonymity: which VPN is the best to use? We will discuss several providers and let you know what we like about them.
- IPVanish – this solution is one of the most reliable anonymous VPNs on the market today. However, you can’t ask for complete anonymity from them (no VPN can offer this) and they are based in the US which forces them to cooperate with law enforcement agencies. Still, they don’t keep logs on record and use a 256-bit AES encryption for all their channels which makes it difficult to crack the protection they offer. Another feature we liked about them is the fact that they offer P2P support, use shared IPs and allow users to pay with Bitcoins.
- NordVPN – this provider is known for its increased level of security (double encryption at the most advanced levels) and for the fact that no connection logs are kept. If you add the fact that the company is based in Panama, you get your ideal anonymous VPN solution. However, all these come at a cost and here the cost is translated in loss of speed. Also, the monthly cost for a basic subscription is pretty high.
- iVPN – located in Gibraltar and with Bitcoins as one of the payment methods, this provider seems like a dream came true for anonymity seekers. Even more, they don’t keep logs, they offer a user-friendly client, and privacy measures are impressive. The price is a bit steep but if you want the best, you need to pay for it.
- AirVPN – a VPN service based in Italy, this company also offers Tor over VPN which increases the degree of anonymity. It’s also a service that is difficult to identify so your ISP won’t know you’re using it.
Of course, the list can continue as there are many other solutions out there that boast on offering anonymity. However, if you’re looking for the best anonymous VPN, one of the above will do the trick. Keep in mind: the main rule to finding the right VPN for you is to make sure you know what you need it for and to read all users reviews. If you don’t like what you’re reading, move on.
In the end, it’s important to keep in mind that any VPN, no matter how powerful and reliable, can’t offer complete anonymity on its own. When you combine it with Tor, you get an extra layer of anonymity but even then you don’t get 100% anonymity. The basic purpose of a VPN is to keep you safe from online entities that want to steal your precious data and to hide your activity from prying eyes. This is something they can do extremely well and any reliable solution will be there for you.