ICT Africa Writer
April 20, 2013
We just released an article about ZimLeaks on Facebook where a whistle blower from Zimbabwe claiming to be a member of the ruling elite is exposing illegal activities of some of his colleagues. The whistle-blower, going by the name of Baba Jukwa
has just made another claim that some Zimbabwean authorities have offered a USD100 000 reward for the exposure of his true identity. Obviously, if his allegations on Facebook are anything to go by, he should take extreme caution and the necessary steps to protect his privacy.
There are many other people in cyberspace who have a genuine need to post messages online anonymously but they have to be aware that without taking proper precautions, their true identities can be exposed. There are a few steps one can take to ensure that their identity is not exposed.
When you connect to the Internet, the device that you use, whether it is a computer or mobile device is assigned a public Internet Protocol (IP) address by your Internet service provider. When you visit a Web site to surf or to post messages, the IP address is transmitted and written in a log file stored on the web server that you are visiting. The log files on any web sites you visit leave a trail of what you do on the Internet. If somebody is determined to trace your real identity, they can take advantage of this IP trail.
It is not technically feasible to connect a device on the Internet without a public IP address because IP addresses enable devices to find and communicate with one another. If it were possible to operate without an I P address, then your device would become invisible and unusable on the Internet.
You can prevent your IP address from being recorded by most Internet servers in many situations by using an anonymous proxy server (proxy). An anonymous proxy is a type of server that serves as an intermediary between your device and the rest of the Internet. The anonymous proxy will make communications with your target web server on your half, so that the web server sees the IP address of the anonymous proxy and not yours. Thus your device only accesses Web sites indirectly, through the anonymous proxy.
It is important to note that anonymous proxies have different levels of security. While a standard anonymous proxy does not transfer the information about your real IP address, your target website may know that you are using a proxy and that you may be hiding your true IP address.
For the ultimate in anonymity, one should consider using elite proxies. An elite proxy is the most secure because it does not only hide your real IP address but also hide the fact that you are using a proxy for a connection to a website. In other words, an elite proxy gives the impression that you are using your real IP address. You can always find out if your real IP address is being revealed by pointing your browser to http://www.whatismyip.com.
Many free anonymous or elite proxies are available online for anyone to use. Unfortunately, free proxies may have bandwidth and/or traffic limitations and some may suffer from poor quality. There are anonymous proxies that require a fee and they tend to be used more regularly by those who have a need to protect their privacy. A simple Google search will list anonymous proxies available online.
To use an anonymous proxy, you need to do a simple configuration of your Web browser using a combination of the proxy IP address and a TCP port number. 188.8.131.52 is an example of an elite proxy using TCP port number 8080. Setting this proxy in Internet Explorer, for example, you go to “Tools”, “Internet Options”, “Connections”, “LAN Settings”, “Connections” and check “Use Proxy for LAN”. You then enter the IP address under “Address” and the TCP port number under “port”.
Some browsers have software extensions that support anonymous proxy services. The Firefox extension called Switch Proxy, for example, supports the definition a number of proxy servers. By configuring many proxies in your browser, the browser will automatically switch between the different servers at regular intervals to guarantee your privacy from the savviest of predators.
Using anonymous proxies is a proven method for hiding the identities of those who have a need to go on the Internet anonymously. This is especially helpful for those who chose to anonymously expose Mafia style, clandestine activities of some dangerous leaders and face the risk of grievous bodily harm or even death.