Is It Possible To Disappear From The Internet?

—TechRound does not recommend or endorse and internet or privacy practices. All articles are purely informational—

If you closed your eyes for five minutes, you’d probably find a dozen reasons to go Casper on the internet. 

From unfriendly neighbours looking you up on the internet, your spouse’s family that thinks you’re up to no good, ‘friends’ who are overly invested in your everyday life, or maybe you just want to keep your private affairs, you know, private. 


Can You Actually Disappear From The Internet?


Like many other questions, the answer depends on who’s asking. 

An international spy caught in the middle of espionage? Then, hiding from the internet is not only impossible but the last of your worries. Hiding from friends and family (for whatever reason), then yes, it enters the realm of possibility because the chances that they can get their hands on resources that can comb all of the internet for you are rather slim. 

If you are thinking of a VPN or Virtual Private Network, think again. There’s only as much as VPNs can do, and disappearing from the internet is not one of them. Many sources would say, “Get the best VPNs for Android and iOS, and your problem is solved”, when that is only the first step. 

VPNs simply mask your IP address, but many other information like your location, device type and model are still up for grabs by different operators on the World Wide Web. You start feeling a lot less safe when you realise that some VPN providers (especially the free ones) keep a log of your online activity and can often sell them to the highest bidder — whoever is trying to find you in this case. 


How to Vanish Online


Now that we know exactly what would not work, let’s explore what will

1. Clear Browsing History

One rookie mistake by people trying to disappear from the internet is not clearing their browser history. 

While this is a no-brainer when using a public computer, it is still valuable when using your personal computer. Suppose you fall victim to a hack and one of your passwords becomes compromised; the hacker can look through your browser history to find other sites where you operate an account that the compromised password can access.

2. Bye Bye Social Media

Recent or old accounts, everything has to go. It is the same amount of risk running social media accounts with an alias. If you are serious about staying in the internet shadows, you must say goodbye to your online social life, even your buddies on your PlayStation network. 

The last thing you want to do is put in all the work to be an internet ghost and have tiny breadcrumbs leading back to you and giving you away. 

So, click YES when that “Do you really want to close this account?” prompt pops up on your screen. 

3. Use Bitcoin

Before 2009, you would have needed an accomplice to drop unmarked cash at random points around town for you to pick up and buy necessary supplies. But thanks to Satoshi, whoever they are, you can go about buying whatever you please and conducting transactions like every other day with Bitcoin. 

Bitcoin or any other widely accepted cryptocurrency would give you a greater sense of anonymity compared to using traditional bank methods. How can you even think about disappearing on the internet when you’re using debit and credit cards registered with your personal information and a billing address that tells the whole world where you live? 

With Bitcoin, there’s no compromise. It is just as fast, in some cases faster, than conventional banking methods. It is widely accepted in most online stores and places of business. For example, by using Bitcoin you can access anonymous casinos while feeling leisurely and conduct local and international business at the push of your encrypted computer keyboard or phone screen. 

4. The Onion Router (TOR) Browser

You won’t love this tip if you are an Apple fan: you have to ditch Safari!

Browsers like Safari and Firefox, to name a few, serve you with cookies from websites you access that can make it easy to track you online. TOR, on the other hand, routes your internet data across a series of decentralised volunteer networks that make it challenging for your data to be intercepted. 

However, remember that TOR is not without its disadvantages, and you want to be careful when using this browser to avoid being drawn deep into the dark, dark web. 

5. Remove Yourself from Data Broker Sites

Data broker sites obtain people’s information from a variety of sources and can sell or license this information. The next step is no easy one, and it requires that you reach out to these sites to have your information removed from their database. 

Common data broker sites are Acxiom, CoreLogic, Epsilon, Experian, Oracle, Equifax and many others.

You are likely to be required to sign up before you can request your information to be removed. Ensure that when signing up, you only give out what you need to. After signing up, you should search for your data and create a removal request for each instance. 

6. Be Consistently Careful

If you do all this and return to your normal day the next week, then you are not disappearing.

The secret is in showing up every day. Keeping your information outside of the internet takes serious work in this age where nearly every service is trying to know who you are to tailor their offering. 

—TechRound does not recommend or endorse and internet or privacy practices. All articles are purely informational—