When you surf the internet, sometimes you are trying to be sneaky and not necessarily for any criminal reasons. You might want to visit your Facebook account while you are at work. Or you might not trust the web site that you are about to visit, and you do not want them to know your ip address.
There are a whole host of reasons why you would not want somebody to know that you visited their web site. So there are a couple of solutions that will help you achieve this.
You can go the old fashioned route and use a normal proxy web site. These are still in use today and can still prove to be very valuable. Or you can use a newer technology that so far has received high marks.
The Onion Router
The technology is known as Tor and will help keep your identity private while you surf the internet. The letters Tor stand for The Onion Router. It helps you bypass any type of machine used for analyzing network data traffic. It is sponsored by the EFF, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, and allows people to surf the web with multiple layers of protection around their data.
It not only helps you pass network analyzers, but it also encrypts the data that it is transmitting. In many ways, this manner of staying anonymous on the internet is far superior than a plain old proxy. When you use a proxy, you leave a trail of log files around the internet.
With Tor, it jumps through several hops before the information gets to the place where it needs to be delivered. This means that the transmission tends to be slower but more secured. But the project also does have its weak points. And there are several.
There Is No Such Thing As 100% Anonymity On The Internet
It is true that the data that you send over the line is encrypted, but at some point it has to become unencrypted. There are many points in the Tor network that the data passes through. Through anyone of these ports, if the person running them is able to decrypt your encryption, then your data can be exposed. It is very rare that this happens but it is possible.
There was some data stolen this very same way from a foreign embassy. The people who worked there thought that the Tor client would be 100% safe but they were proven wrong. When it comes to the internet, nothing keeps you 100% anonymous, if the person tracking you knows where to look.
Also you must remember that when you have Tor running, you have specifically set each device that accesses the internet to run it. If only your browser is set, and you turn on your IM client, then people will still be able to track you through that.
If you are a person that is looking to keep their internet browsing session private, then Tor is the right program for you. It will not keep your identity 100% private, but it is one of the best ways that we have out now.