1.3.2. Surfing anonymously

One underestimated risk is the Wi-Fi router. A hacker could crack into your router and gain access to your entire network. As such, you should always change the router’s given password, making it as strong as possible. Afterwards, encrypt the Wi-Fi. The safest encryption method at the moment is WPA2. If you are not sure how to encrypt your router, your service provider should be able to help. However, the most secure method to connect to the Internet is through a LAN cable. You should use this method when working from home.

After you have secured your router, you will probably turn to the Internet to get background information or find potential sources. Searching sensitive topics could make you more susceptible to spies monitoring your activity. Therefore, it is essential to encrypt your browsing to protect your research, your future sources and yourself.

There are two methods to surf securely that also allow you to bypass censorship: You could either use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or proxy servers which make your location invisible. For detailed information about how a VPN works watch:

A VPN is like a mask that cloaks your real location and make you look as if you are on a different network. There are plenty of software options for various devices. When the VPN is activated, you will be able to select a location where you pretend to be. Some recommended VPN providers are ‘ZenMate’, ‘CyberGhost’ or ‘ExpressVPN’. Most VPN providers do not offer their services for free. Payment details will be saved, and as such, you will still leave a paper trail with this method. An alternative, but more complex, option is to set up your own VPN.

More information about the providers and the applications is available at: zenmate.com, cyberghostvpn.com or expressvpn.com. Information on how this works can be found here:

One well-known proxy network is TOR (The Onion Router). While using the TOR browser, you surf with another IP address. This is possible because TOR is a network of encrypted computer connections. Every user has an access point to this network. After routing through three or more of these servers, a user reaches the exit. This is the IP address this person uses officially.

It does not mean that you cannot be traced. In November 2014, the FBI and other European services uncovered the identities of 17 people who misused TOR for criminal activities. However, operations like this are very intensive and expensive. It is unlikely that secret services would use such methods to track average citizens or journalists, unless they are a security threat, sharing child porn or selling weapons. But take extra care if you operate in a country with a very low press freedom standard and a well-equipped secret service. 

The TOR browser is also available as a smartphone app for Android devices: ‘Orfox’ and the add-on ‘Orbot’. iOS users looking for proxy browsers can try ‘Onion Browser’.