Is It Possible To Disappear From The Internet?

Is It Possible To Disappear From The Internet?

Can you disappear from the Internet? Is it possible to delete all personal data from the Internet? The answers may scare you.

Can You Disappear From The Internet

Can I delete my personal data online. Sure, absolutely. All you have to do is go to the site where it is stored and delete it yourself or request to have it deleted. Is it possible to delete all personal data from the Internet? No, sadly, it isn’t. Your data is stored in so many places by so many people and some of it mandated by law there is no way to ever track it all down and delete it. Now, to answer the question, is it possible to completely disappear on the Internet, as in use it without it knowing, then yes, it is possible to disappear from the Internet. It will know you used to be around, it may even anticipate you coming back but you can hide and you can make yourself virtually vanish in the blink of a digital eye.

It all comes down to data. Data you provide to websites and services and data collected about you by those same websites and many, many others. Disappearing from the Internet means suspending the creation of new data. If you aren’t making connections, if you aren’t uploading files, if you aren’t being logged then you are as good as gone. The only way to truly do this is to stop using the web because that is the only way to ensure you are not leaving any trace, that being said though there are steps you can take that limit the amount and type of traces you do leave so that the Internet at large does not know it’s you.

How To Delete All Personal Data Online

The problem with deletion is the vast amounts of data that has been gathered about you and where it is all being stored. For one thing, every single move you make on the Internet has been tracked and recorded somewhere by someone, usually a few more than one someone. It is physically impossible to track it all down. Second, there is a lot of data about you being stored legitimately and that you probably can’t do without. Think about it, the government, healthcare providers, financial institutions and more. Without it you can’t function in today’s society. You can follow these suggestions to delete yourself from the web but be warned, if you go too far – you may do more harm by cutting yourself off from the world than by protecting yourself from it.

The first step is of course to find out what is out there. A Google search is always a good place to start. If you are active on the web you may be surprised at what you find. Don’t limit your searches and be sure to look past the first page or two of results because you might not be ranked #1. Your name is the first place to start, try some variations, and then add a birth date. After that try your email addresses and any handles you use while online. Before you are through be sure to look for images and pictures that may contain your name in the file name, or that you’re tagged in, or mentioned in a comment or post.

The biggest headache in terms of deletion is the commercial data collection industry. These companies do nothing but collect data using every means available and then sell it to whomever would like to pay. Services like aid in the process of removal. They have extensive lists of data collection agencies and work to remove those traces of you from the web. Since you leave new traces every time you log-on – their services are ongoing and come with an annual subscription.

Deleting old embarrassing posts and pictures from random websites can be a bit more tricky. If contacting the webmaster isn’t enough to get the posts removed then you can always fall back on the search engines. Google will allow you to request to have content removed from search results, not quite as good as deletion but decent, all you have to do is provide sufficient reason within applicable laws. Of course you’ll have to do the same with all search engines, although this is getting easier and easier since Google is the power behind most. This tactic also works well with old or outdated content from old jobs or news stories. Learn more about search engine data collection and which search engines do not collect data.

Once you’ve managed to track down as much information as you can find, and had what you can have deleted or blocked from search, the last thing to do is close your email accounts. This means not only closing down the ones you use now, but all the ones you used to use in the past that are more than likely still open. Be sure to save this step till last though because closing out all the other online accounts and deleting all that data will more than likely require an email account and a few emails.

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A Guide: How To Disappear From The Internet

The first and most important step in completely disappearing from the Internet is to give up you cell phone. I know, I know, this is not an easy task but for those seriously wishing to COMPLETELY disappear it is a must. Cell phones are connected to Wi-Fi, 3G and phone networks individually and in tandem nearly 100% of the time. They also carry SIM cards with all your juicy account information and the ability to track you down using GPS, triangulation or any of a handful of methods commonly employed by law enforcement agencies. Learn how to hide location tracking on your phone or how to block GPS tracking. Add to that the fact that most mobile functions are running on apps, apps that themselves collect your data and connect to the Internet, and I think you can understand the need to abandon the phone in your quest for digital invisibility. The only thing to do is to use a burner phone like they do in the spy novels, and to change it out regularly. Tablets and a Skype are a possible solution, or even a smart phone without a phone account enabled, but come with limitations as there are still many smart phone security threats.

The next step to completely disappear is to give up social media. Social media is the silver tongued devil when it comes to data, data collection and your presence on the Internet. No matter the claims of privacy, the reason social media exists is to track every click and post you make so they can build and monetize vast databases. Facebook is a notorious collector of data and makes clear in their terms that information collected by them, their subsidiaries and applications are shared across the platform and used for the benefit of all (of them). On the user end it is simple, if you want to be invisible you have to be invisible. The point of social media is to put yourself out there and when you’re out there you aren’t invisible. This goes for any chat or other accounts that require you to give more than the very basic information in order to join. All it takes is an address, phone number or handle to connect the dots and lead the Internet to your virtual door. Here are our tips for Facebook privacy.

Social Media Security: Tips for a secure Facebook account | Le VPN

To go the full distance you have to cease using social media and delete all your accounts including requests for permanent deletion. Most will allow you to go into your settings and deactivate or delete. If you can’t find where to do it a search online will likely turn up the answers. If you find you can’t delete the account or simply wish to keep a contact with the social media world you can always change your information to a fake name, address and telephone number so long as they don’t require you to verify the number change with a text.

  • Permanent deletion is a data retention protocol that ensures digitally stored information is disposed of properly. To start, data must be stored encrypted in all forms original and copied so that when it is deleted it cannot be retrieved and viewed. To add another layer of protection the encryption keys must also be stored encrypted and thus deleted so that if the original data is retrieved after deletion it can never be decrypted.

Encryption is crucial to maintain anonymity and invisibility while online. It will render any data that may be lost, leaked or stolen into an indecipherable jumble that will take so long to decode no one will ever attempt it. Not unless it’s really, really important stuff that is. The only problem with encryption is that it requires a key. To decrypt the files recipients must also have the key, which may be lost or stolen as well.

The TOR network is a highly efficient tool for those seeking to remain anonymous on the web. TOR, The Onion Network, is global network of servers that route and reroute connections in order to hide location, IP and other identifiable markers. It can be used to connect on a P2P basis for chat and file sharing or as a browser to surf the web. So long as you don’t give up any information while surfing no one will know who you are. If you need email set up an account with one of the TOR nodes and use it where accepted.

There are limitations with TOR just like everything else. The TOR Network only works 100% while you remain within its servers. The connection from your device to the TOR Network and any connection leaving TOR to go to a website is still visible, identifiable and traceable. If you connect to a site and draw attention to yourself they can follow you back to the TOR gateways. Given time and savvy they can also find you on the other side and follow you back to your device.

  • The downside of using TOR is that by using TOR you automatically draw attention to yourself. While meant to protect the rights and identities of individuals using the Internet its resources have been perverted to criminal activity too. Known as the Deep Dark Web there are networks of illicit websites within the TOR network selling every dark, dirty and illegal thing imaginable. You can even buy instructions on how to set up and operate Internet scams.

Do not pay for anything online without a prepaid card or Bitcoin /crypto currency. If you do, don’t have the packages sent to your house or any address you want to keep anonymous because once you input it on the web, it will stay there as long as the servers are maintained and may be lost, stolen, misused or sold to third parties. To stay completely invisible on the web you need to stick to cash and buy local. If you are forced to buy online then an anonymous method of payment is the only answer. The problem of course is that many times prepaid cards will not work with digital merchants and crypto currency are not widely accepted.

VPNs are an important step in your digital security that help ensure your invisibility by filling in the gaps left by TOR and best practices. VPN stands for virtual private network. It is a security feature created by combing technologies developed by corporate America and the research behind ARPANET and the Internet itself. When the Internet was created it was intended to connect local networks with remote users and networks securely across PUBLIC lines of communication. The need was to enable secure connections across those public lines and this led to VPN.

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When you use a VPN to connect to the Internet it masks your IP address so that you are an anonymous user. It creates a digital tunnel through which they make your connections and send your data files. The connection bypasses the ISP servers so there is no record of you connecting to the Internet. The VPN servers give you a new IP address so that whomever you do connect to won’t know who you are and the most secure forms come with built in encryption. Because there is no trace of your connection leaving the ISP and it’s routing through the VPN server, it is very difficult, if not impossible, for random third party individuals or malware to be aware of your connection much less track it. If they are able to find it they won’t be able to follow it far. If they can tap it, or if data leaks, they won’t be able to read it.

VPN solves two other problems faced by those seeking to remain truly invisible on the Internet. The first is encryption. Since top level VPNs like Le VPN come with encryption enabled, there is no need for additional software and there is no risk of lost or stolen encryption keys. When you use the VPN it will encrypt your data before it leaves your computer. Then, as an additional safety feature, it may add a verification key as well before sending off to the endpoint destination. The data packets will then go through verification at the VPN server before unpacking and decrypt. So, not only is there encryption protection, the VPN makes sure it’s the right computer decrypting.

The second problem is with the TOR Network. TOR is great but as mentioned comes with a caveat. If people know you are using it, you draw attention to yourself. VPNs alleviate this problem by providing a secure, untraceable and anonymous connection to TOR .

Le VPN is the leading provider of commercial VPN services. They support 4 protocols across servers in more than 100+ locations worldwide. At less than $5 per month it is an incredibly inexpensive way to ensure Internet security and anonymity while cutting out the need for messy encryption software. Each protocol is geared for differing security needs but all provide some level of anonymity. The PPTP is the lowest level and good for general web surfing. The data stream is not encrypted but it is protected by the digital “tunnel” and routed through the VPN servers. The L2TP is the next level up in security and includes encryption. It is recommended when connecting to banks, financial institutions, healthcare or ecommerce sites. The OpenVPN is the highest level of security using an open sourced VPN protocol for maximum effect.

The fourth protocol supported by Le VPN is a HybridVPN including SmartDNS created expressly for exploiting one of VPN’s most useful and enjoyable unintended consequences: unlocking geo-restricted content. The combination of masking IP and addresses in countries around the world give users the ability to appear as if they are located somewhere they are not. When it comes to online streaming content, and specifically content that is restricted to viewers of one country or another, this means all it takes to watch your favorite shows is a login through a server in that country. If I want to watch BBC I log in through the UK, Ireland or Scotland. If I want to watch ESPN, Discovery or AMC I login through US based servers.

Bottom line, if you want to remain invisible and disappear while using the Internet you have to have VPN. You could choose a free VPN service but in the end you’ll regret it, they’ll collect the data themselves and sell it on to the highest bidder. Le VPN is the top rated service and costs very little compared to the protection it brings. If you want to be invisible the next thing to do is get Le VPN.

*Article Updated On September 28th, 2018.*



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Written by Vuk Mujović @VukMujovic

Vuk Mujović is the founder of MacTíre Consulting, an analyst, data management expert, and a long-term writer on all things business & tech. He authored blogs, articles, and opinion pieces aimed to help both companies and individuals achieve growth without compromising their security. Vuk is a regular guest author to Le VPN Blog since January 2018, where he gives his expert opinion on the topics related to cybersecurity, privacy, online freedom, and personal data protection. He also often shares his tips and best practices in relation to internet security and digital safety of private individuals and small businesses, including some additional applications of using a VPN service.

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