Anonymous Web Browsing, Surfing and OPSEC for the Prepper

Anonymous web browsing

Image courtesy stock.xchng user foobean01

Anonymous web browsing : What you need to know to stay anonymous online!

Recently, several readers have expressed concerns regarding the vulnerability of their identities while online, and how that they can be identified by their IP address. Folks, this is a valid concern, but one that can be minimized with a few precautions and easy steps.

There are lots of reasons preppers and folks in general could have for wanting to surf anonymously, ranging from simple paranoia to the real possibly of being spied on by government snoops. It does not have to be anything immoral or illegal – some folks just prefer not to broadcast their lives to anyone interested….

The first thing that I suggest that you do is visit this site – it will show you in detail what information that you are providing for the world to see through your internet connection. Did your name and address pop up, no. Mine neither.

To get detailed information like your name and address someone will have to go through your internet service provider to track the IP address used to the individual person using it. If you’re on a dial-up connection you’ll be using a dynamic IP addresses, that will change every time that you log onto the internet.

Okay, if you want to stay anonymous on-line you should start with a good firewall ZoneAlarm offers a good one and it’s free. I use Webroot SecureAnywhere™ AntiVirus for my anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall. I’ve used the Webroot product for about a year and I’ve not had problems and best of all no viruses.

Next, I suggest that you download and install TOR – the program will reroute your IP and data through several encrypted relays on the network. For example you might be in TN but to anyone looking at your IP address it would appear that you’re in Britain or some other location or country.

Click here for a complete explanation of how TOR works and why you need it. By the way it is a FREE service. Another great service is available from unspyable, it’s not free but offers many services including anonymous web surfing, secure offshore email and more .

The next thing on your list should be to dump internet explorer. Experts think Internet Explorer is full of security risks and should not be used in any shape or form by anyone interested in web security or surfing the web anonymously.

Download the latest version of Firefox. You can import all your Internet Explorer Favorites, etc. so you can start exactly as you were before you switched, but with a lot more safely.

Also instead of using Google as your search engine (google tracks your every move online) you should switch to DuckDuckGo – start by setting this page as your homepage / search portal and using it every time that you go online.

Remember nothing online is 100% secure, but by following the above steps you can increase your security level greatly and make it much more difficult for prying eyes to spy on you. 😎

What have you done to keep your computer and information safe while online? Please let us know in the comments.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. I am no way a tech person. I have rebuilt a 727 transmision but, I am a computer illiteriat.This article is just basic op/sec and Thank you for the information.

  2. P.S. I love the idea of posting about guns and having a internet address that looks like that I am from the uk.

  3. Thanks M.D.!

  4. SurvivorDan says:

    Looks good MD. Will peruse all this carefully. Time to make some changes.
    I am very lax about such matters. Have to change my ‘Come and get some!” attitude. THEY may come and I may ‘get some’ that I don’t like. 😉

    • SurvivorDan,

      I just about busted a gut laughing at that one – perhaps you should be a comedian? But, yep that’s very true… I often hear folks bragging that they are going to kick someone’s butt, what I don’t think they realize is that butt kicking can go either way…

      Heck, I can run my mouth and brag that I’m going to kick Junior dos Santos in the mouth and slap him around a bit. But deep-down I know what would probably be the one kicked in the mouth LOL..

  5. I would caution against relying on a firewall or specific search engines or browsers. Its cute of DuckDuckGo and others to tell you they dont track anything but how can you be certain.

    Simply assume everything you post online is for the world to see. Don’t give out too much personal information anywhere.

    • SickSkilz,

      I did not say to rely on a firewall or specific search engines or browsers – but a combination of those plus TOR as a layered system of protection. As I said in the post:

      Remember nothing online is 100% secure, but by following the above steps you can increase your security level greatly and make it much more difficult for prying eyes to spy on you.

      • Dean in Michigan says:

        I’m sorry M.D.

        I have to somewhat agree with Skilz. Security measures will help protect us from Joe Shmoe. However, sammie will see what he wants, when he wants, and unfortunately HOW he wants.

        But hey…that’s what we like to talk about. IMO, most, if not all of us, are already compromised. Wether or not you decide to post this, IMO, it’s already been seen.

        Hate to be a stitch……you know I love this place.

        • Sorry about what you just echoed what I said in my post and comment…

          Remember nothing online is 100% secure, but by following the above steps you can increase your security level greatly and make it much more difficult for prying eyes to spy on you.

          Personally, I could care less if they watch me… watch away little peeper…

          • Right, nothing is 100% secure. I do 100% agree about not using IE. But there are 2 distinct types of data

            1) Information stored on your computer – Avoid this by not using IE. Personally I use Google Chrome and if need be i use the incognito mode which stores no information locally (I also use that for buying my wife presents 🙂

            2) Information stored on the internet based on your browsing history. Yes, Google saves it as do many many universities and the government. Literally the only thing that is [pretty] secure is https pages which get fairly well encrypted. Prying eyes can still tell what sites you went to, just not what you posted.

            Here is proof of number 2. If you have windows, open a command prompt and type “tracert” It will show you every ip address of every server you are going through just to get to this web site. For me it goes through 5 servers at my isp and a few in other states. There is nothing stopping any of those servers from tracking everything you type into this blog.

            My recommendation. If you are worried about #1, dont use IE. If you are worried about #2, dont use the internet or only use secure (https) sites. Using TOR + a browser you built yourself, the information could still be saved (TOR still eventually sends the final data transmission as an unsecured transaction and in the mean time, it slows your internet transactions with the extra hopping. We are also assuming THEY don’t log your transactions too.

            • SickSkilz,

              Yep, like I’ve been saying nothing is 100% secure, we all know that. All we can do is make it more difficult and time consuming for anyone spying on you. Doing something beats doing nothing don’t you agree?

              This post was not written for computer geeks or graduates of MIT but for the causal internet user that make up the majority of those going on line. Effective, simple and easy to understand for everyone not just computer geeks.

            • HomeINsteader says:

              google does much more than merely “save” your information – they sell it to some, and give it to the gubment, pretty much in real time these days.

     works much better for me – and I have installed the security measures, knowing full well this will not prevent ALL “leaks”, but comes a whole heck of a lot closer than it does letting google broadcast your life.

          • Dean in Michigan says:

            I was only putting a different perspective on the topic. Isn’t that partially what this blog is about? Don’t take it personally.

            “The collective perspective can achieve the higher objective”

            • Dean in Michigan,

              Just trying to figure out what you were sorry for in your comment since you only agreed with what I said in my post. What am I taking personally? Aparently, I’m missing something…

  6. Suburban Housewife says:

    Interesting and helpful information. As as artist it was my goal to be everywhere on line – sharing paintings, promoting my work. interacting. The point was to show up everywhere. Now that I’m “retired” and have learned about prepping and opsec – I’ve been trying to “disappear” more and more.
    You know what else is interesting? The posts in this blog seem to parallel what I am doing in my life an awful lot! For example yesterday I checked out Duck Duck Goose. Today I went on my Google account and put everything I could to private (I need to work up courage to delete the entire account) – and this happens a lot! I could probably list a dozen or so examples in the past few months. I’ll research something or check something out and with a few days something really relevant shows up in a post! It’s as if my every move is being monitored….
    On a less paranoid note – maybe it’s just great minds think alike!! (LOL)

    • HomeINsteader says:

      SH: LOL ON “Duck Duck Goose”. I’m sure you meant, “DuckDuckGo” (dot com) – I played that silly game a hundred years ago, when I babysat as a teenager until I thought I just couldn’t take it anymore; I can still remember how much I hated it!

      And, you are not paranoid – you are being that closely tracked!

      But, thanks for the trip down memory lane. ; )

  7. Instead of setting duckduckgo as a start page you can make duckduckgo the default search engine in Firefox and search directly from the address bar or the search box in your browser. You can get a duckduckgo addon that does it but I prefer to manually change the setting

    (1) Type “about:config” into the address bar and, if prompted, click, “I’ll be careful, I promise.”
    (2) Search for “keyword.url” and double-click the result.
    (3) In the popup, change the value to “” (if you want to use copy and paste you may have to use ctrl v to paste)

    If you want instant-style search (I’m Feeling Ducky), change it instead to “!+”

    If you want the pictorial guide it’s here

    • Your first links (to copy and paste) are incorrect. Just use the guide link!

      • No they are not. First, they were copied straight from the guide linked to below the copy and paste section. Second,it’s exactly the same link I used to tweak my browser and it’s been working for quite some time.

  8. I’m behind a firewall both at work and at home. Our home router has a built-in firewall along with a firewall on the computer itself. Similar situation at work.

    I am required to use a software called Trusteer Rapport for work that tracks credentials submissions, has password keystroke protection, can block cookie access and can block screen captures. It was free and will give you a weekly report. My report is usually minimal regarding attempted problems.

    Malware is a big problem and is how most data is mined from computers, especially in homes where not-as-tech-savvy-as-they-think-they-are children click on stuff they shouldn’t. Malwarebytes is a good software for helping to clean your puter of malware and it is also free. The number one problem with the children is that even though they aren’t all children anymore, they don’t always listen to what we tell them. “Did you run that program?” “Uh, no. Should I have?” UGH!!!!! “Why are you still downloading stuff from that site when I told you not to?” “Uh – they have free stuff.” GRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!! You get the picture.

    I’ve been using Firefox for quite a while and love it but can’t get YouTube videos to play in it lately. I have multiple tabs open constantly and with Firefox I have the option of saving all those tabs to open the next time I open Firefox. It saves me a lot of trying to remember what I didn’t get around to reading yesterday type stuff. Unfortunately, I still have to use IE for some work-related stuff.

    As for Google, every time I hear someone say, “Just Google it” I cringe. I only use it for the maps. I have never been happy with receiving 40 bazillion hits from a simple search. I have tended to stick with Yahoo as the search results tend to be more relevant. Until I came here, I had never heard of DuckDuckGo.

    All that said, neither firewall nor software will do any good if the user does stupid stuff that puts the computer and personal information at risk. (See above conversations with grown and nearly grown children.)

  9. Also, check out “startpage” as a secure search engine. It is free and can run in firefox as your default search engine.

  10. How does this affect online banking?

    • I’m not sure about TOR, but I can tell you that SOME banks will not allow online banking through any browser other than IE. I have also seen some banks not work on IE but work in FireFox. Some banks will even ask if you are using a public computer or a private computer – if you are using a computer it does not recognize, that bank asks for answers to your security questions. I have worked with nine different banks in the last 15 years to varying degrees. They all have their own weird ways of thinking they are protecting your information – they are doing their best to stay one step ahead of the hackers but don’t always succeed. I have also had my debit card information stolen without ever losing the actual card and I don’t even have one of those fancy cards with the swipe thingy in it. I am still not sure how they got the information.

  11. Sorry, should have been more specific. Such as TOR?

  12. PGCPrepper says:

    I read about DuckDuckGo’s inventer/CEO last month and switched. Wein…something created and sold it for a lot of money and started this SE.

  13. Here’s another little tweak for Firefox that turns off geolocation.

    Turn off Geolocation in Firefox

    Open Firefox.
    In the Web Address bar, type about:config.

    A warning message will appear on the browser to warn you that you are about to enter the advanced section area and that changing something here might cause stability and performance issue to Firefox.
    Without any further delay (and without any worries) click the I’ll be careful, I promise! button.

    In the Filter field, type geo.enabled and hit Enter.
    Double-click the True value and from the menu select Toggle.
    The value should change from true to false.
    Restart Firefox for the changes to take effect.

  14. I just switched my ‘home page to DuckDuckgo too.

    Thanks for the information!

    On an unrelated note, I got an email about “organic” companies who gave MILLIONS to defeat the GMO labeling proposition, and forwarded that to eveyrone on my email list. Then I called Shelf Reliance to ask if any of their products contain GMOs. Turns out, most don’t, and they have a list at:

    Emergency Essentials does not currently have a list (I suggeted they add one), but their rep told me that none of their freeze dried products contain GMOs.

    Good to know. Now I’m going to call some of the other companies I buy my preps from and find out about their products as well.

    • Good list to have. Thanks Michelle. I’m just as interested in the Gluten-free shelf options as the NON-GMO.

  15. Swabbie Robbie says:

    What are people’s opinions about the IXquick Search Engine?

    Thanks M.D. for the post. Lots of food for thought. I guess my main thing is I always assume anything I post can get be identified. If I were into anything nefarious I would not post anything about it. But, the reality is that I am not doing anything bad, just trying to be prepared to better survive what ever comes. Which is why I try to read as much as I can. Every so often I can actually contribute something as well.

    • HomeINsteader says:

      I doubt most of us here are doing anything “bad”, Swabbie Robbie – it’s all about whether you WANT Big Brother tracking you with every burp and…well, you get the idea.

    • I almost always use It is secure and does a good job. It is also in France so I worry less about the powers that be in the U.S. I have as my homepage in Firefox.

      • HomeINsteader says:

        You worry less about the “powers that be” in France? Hmmm…I find that interesting, given that France leads the world in Muslims in the military amongst NON-Muslim nations AND the U.S. has a Muslim king.

  16. recoveringidiot says:

    Good list, only thing I’d change is move dumping of IE to the top of the list. I have to use it for some things at work but never at home. Check out some of the plug ins for Firefox that help stop some tracking, I think one of them is called silverlight? I have a new(er) machine now with Win 7 and have not gotten around to dual booting with Linux yet, I understand Win7 is harder to dual boot than XP?

  17. Good stuff MD, thanks for sharing. I’ll check into some of that stuff.

    Another thing (OPSEC) for the Prepper = GET OFF Facebook / Twitter / Google +

  18. MountainSurvivor says:

    Back six or seven years ago, my ISP website provider had me automatically connected up with a watch program and it told me every single time someone tried to ping, hack, etc. Every culprit’s exact location was also revealed and recorded so I had the choice of turning them in or just keeping an eye out. I miss the program and, for the life of me, can’t remember what it was called. The way that I handle bogus e-mails is to forward the money-scammer’s communications to The site there is good because it gives lots of information in regards to various scams, what to watch out for and, right now, they are even warning about a new internet scam called, “Drive-by” ransomware which will install, lock up the computer and demand $-talk about holding users hostage, eek! Haven’t investigated the information thoroughly yet. Online, I never give my middle name. No exact date of birth.

  19. To me it’s less a matter of your privacy efforts being 100% effective, than it is of making it more difficult for ‘Sammie’ to spy on you. ANYTHING we can do to make it more costly, more time consuming, and less convenient will help to break down the spy system. Call it’s non-cooperation if you like, I just don’t believe in making (or leaving it) easy for anyone who wants to spy on me. I may not ‘disappear’ from their radar forever, but I can make it an expensive pain in the butt to keep tabs on me.

  20. It’s kind of funny that folks reading this blog are so paranoid it seems many of you think that you’re more important to “big brother” than you really are. I doubt that with hundreds of millions of people on the internet every day that the government would have time to track you down by your IP address because you bought an extra can of spam. Get real.

    Most of this paranoia about the federal government being after preppers has be started by sites like prison planet and oath keepers, both of which are well known for “exaggerating “ the truth and posting completely made up stories. Hell the federal government even has their own prepping site that is ran by FEMA that tells folks that they need to prepare for a disaster and how to do it. They even put out their own book “are you read”.

    If the feds were going to spy on anyone, question or raid their preps it would be Mr. Creekmore – as you know if you cut off the head the snake will die.

    • Hatmaker,

      I’ve been at this (prepping) for a long time (over 20 years) and I’ve been running this blog for over eight years and I’ve never been approached , questioned, detained, raided or arrested. And guess what I can even get on a plane without setting off an alarm so apparently I’m not on any watch list.

      • HomeINsteader says:

        I haven’t done all that you’ve done here, M.D., and I seem to always get “sequestered” when I fly – I go back to the time I tried to actually help the feds; given former LE attachments, I felt it was the right thing to do. Won’t do it again.

    • HomeINsteader says:

      Spoken like a true sheeple.

    • Hunker-Down says:


      You are right. The government does not think you are important enough to track.

      It is cheaper to track everyone, parse the data, then focus on ‘persons of interest’.

  21. Go to

    For the technically inclined, check out the article on “how to build a thief proof computer”. This is relevant to this article as well.

    And surprisingly I don’t see anybody mentioning VPNs


  22. Hunker-Down says:

    It seems to me that the government is gearing up to store all in-flight data.

    Every record released to the Internet has an IP address attached to it, and can be followed from the destination it was sent to, back to the sending source.

    Imagine what the government will know about you one year after collecting everything sent and received by your computer. At their leisure they will build a detailed profile about our activities, personal and financial. They will collect our credit card transactions, back track that data to the item numbers we purchased, collect all the history the banks have about every type of account back several years, hospital and doctor records, payroll, phone numbers called, ethnic data, group memberships, individual contacts.

    They will know what you had for breakfast 100 days ago when you charged that meal to a credit card.

    Bought anything on Amazon? Paid for something with PayPal?


  23. All this is very good, but with all the internet security talk, no one has mention secure email. Its been in the news lately that the FBI is looking as people’s email without a warrant–at anytime or any place, even though the law that they are using was designed for email more then 180 old pertaining to financial institutions, such as emails concerning transfers of funds. I am not currently using secure email, but plan to switch sometime soon. I also plan to start using anonymous browsing.

    Concerning the matter of how important we are to those that might be monitoring us, there is software to can look through various sources of information, whether voice calls or computer, and will latch on to certain key words. That is why I never send an email with the word golf uniform November in it.

    BTW, I do, or have subscribed to a lot of prepper type blogs and this one by far the best. I get something out of almost every post. If I not mistaken, MD, we live fairly close to each other. Keep up the good work.

    • HomeINsteader says:

      ALL emails, telephone calls (regardless whether landline or cellular) have been monitored in REAL time for quite a while now.

    • I’ve been using encrypted email for more than a decade. I use Thunderbird, and simply importing a valid X.509 digital certificate into the program will allow you to digitally sign your outgoing email. When the other end is using a certificate, then all email between the two of you can be automatically encrypted. Unfortunately, only a handful of folks use this mechanism, and trying to get other people to use it has always been hard, since many people don’t seem concerned. If everyone encrypted their email, it would be a nightmare for the watchers, which is IMHO the reason the 4th amendment was created.

      • Hunker-Down says:


        The ‘watchers’ may not know the contents of your message but they can track where it came from and where it went. Send something encrypted to 3-4 folks on a watch list and you too may become a person of interest.

        • HD,
          Perhaps. But for now at least, the only folks who have the certificate to allow me to send them encrypted email are friends and those in my MAG. Of course, since the watch list is private and the criteria for being on it is secret that could be true of any of us right now.

  24. I use as my search engine. is also the same people but easier to remember. They don’t save your IP address at all.

  25. This isnt nearly enough. At a minimum you need Firefox, Tor, and a highly anonymous proxy. That still isnt enough, to really be anonymous you need to use a computer that is only for web browsing. Too many programs keep backups of documents and history (Word stores versions of documents, windows itself stores all kinds of data about programs, documents, etc) which can be read by a smart person. Everything you plug into your computer (memory sticks, hard drives, etc) leaves a trail inside windows registry file and some log files.

    Dont link programs togethor. For example dont sign on to web sites using your facebook account. Dont link your iphone to your facebook, outlook, aol, etc. Dont contribute to forums on your computer that you use for anonymous browsing, forums store things about you, and every time you post something you add to your unique signature. Dont buy stuff (from amazon for example) using your anon computer.

    uninstall several windows features such as media player which records data about your computer and transmits it to another site. Adobe is also very bad about this. Any program that collects data for marketing purposes or to “improve your experience” should be deleted. Auto update programs can also be hijacked.

    Websites can gather data about your computer through http header queries, data such as the language your computer uses, the fonts loaded, etc can form a unique id of your computer. A good highly anon proxy will intercept these queries and provide fake answers.

    Get a program that clears your log files, history, etc, like CCleaner.

    You can blend in and make it really hard to track and id you so no contractor can id you, but if the govt really really wants to get you, they probably can.

  26. Peter Lepacus says:

    You need a VPN for complete privacy & security:

  27. On a related note, check out TAILS:

    Personally, I’d strongly recommend against using a proprietary operating system to begin with (Windows, MAC) at-least for your communications and data storage.. Anything whose source code I can’t see, I consider dangerous untill proven otherwise. Call me a whacko if you will, but better safe than sorry.


  28. I’m using Linux and Smurfing my location. I’m not really where it says I am.

  29. I have to agree with the “you too paranoid” comments; unless you are actually doing something outright illegal. Far better to harden your system against OS criminals, who really DO want your money and ID!

    Apart from the good advice in previous posts, I really like Secunia PSI (free for personal use). It will analyse all your software and help you update security flaws in all your software – its amazing how many companies issue patches that you never get alerted to!

    Never put all your trust in a firewall, even the expensive & well regarded ones. Software that has little to do with the internet can be hacked thru a firewall if it has a bug.

  30. I am exercising my rights as a free American under the Constitution of the United States of America. Everything I’m doing is legal. I exercise my First Amendment right by telling the guberment to get out of my business. I exercise my Second Amendment right by buying firearms of my choice. I want my guberment to exercise the Fourth Amendment and protect me from illegal search and seizure. I want the guberment to hold up the founding fathers principals and commitment that we are a nation of free peoples as stated in articles 1 -10 of the Bill of Rights. I’m holding up my end of the bargain, is the guberment? If they are not, then who’s the real criminals that we need to be protected from? If you are in a guberment facility tracking me then you should send me a Christmas card and thank me for giving you a job. Have a nice shift and remember, when you go home, that same guberment that is tracking me, is tracking you even more so, because they own you.

    • HomeINsteader says:

      Well said, Mexneck.

      I have to wonder how many of these “you too paranoids” are gubment-types? How long did they work for gubment? Do they still work for gubment? I spent my share of time working in LE and in law, and working with gubment at various levels and for various purposes and I can tell you, I’m not paranoid, but I DO know a little about how it all works. Sheeple. There is no easy fix for deception.

  31. Funny that you should bring that up – most of the top security people at the Multi-national where I work are said to be ex-military. The local security guys say they are “scary paranoid” 🙂

  32. I almost exclusively use Firefox, and ALWAYS using ‘private browsing’ when doing any banking, shopping, or anything that relates to any of my financial information. Afterwards, I clear everything (history, cookies, cache), then close my browser. I also use DuckDuckGo as my search engine.

    Still, as M.D. says, nothing is 100%.

  33. I work CND (Computer Network Defense) for the DoD and a few things to consider, depending on how paranoid you are – I rank 10 on that scale.

    If you are using Windows, everywhere you go on the internet is being tracked by a registry file and without a low-level format of your hard drive, it will stay there and can be easily retrieved.

    There are also NSA keys that are tied to Windows communications encryption. They say it is to meet US standards, but their answer goes to how much do you trust Microsoft and the NSA, given their track record of working together?

    In short, use Linux, better yet, a boot CD like BackTrack that doesn’t write data to the hard drive (forensic mode)

    As for TOR, I don’t trust it being you have to install extra software on your computer that is not open source. Not counting I analyze packets coming through our IDS (Intrusion Detection Systems) that come from TOR, though the headers are stripped, the information about the relays are encapsulated in the packet body and can be pieced back together to show the trail you took (Think NSA wire taping of the internet trunk at Verizon).

    It’s not about hiding anything, it’s about freedom from an ever more controlling government. What’s legal today could be illegal tomorrow…

    • NotHere,

      I doubt anything is 100% secure when we go online. The best that we can do is make it harder on those who wish to spy on us.

      • Roger that. Though there are ways to get to 100% identity security, none that I know of that are legal 🙂

        Something else that just hit me ( It will give you a quick temporary email address for ten minutes, which is what I use to create accounts on other blogs, news sites, etc. You can’t send email from it, however, it’s a way to receive those pesky verification emails when creating online accounts and you don’t have to worry about being spammed or tracked via your email address.

        Anyway, nice write up (meant to say that in my original comment), more people need to know about internet CYA.

  34. philly dave says:

    It will not help you with IP hiding, so if you are intent on being truly anonymous you would need to hide your IP first but I have found using for anonymous email boxes is awesome.

    You don’t even have to create a box before using it, the site creates boxes on the fly. It is receive only with zero security.

    That seems bad but they have tools to make even that less of an issue.

    But you can hand out email addresses you have never used before to activate accounts or just receive information.

    It has a feature that if you do create the box before using it that it gives you an alternate name to the mnemonic name you know so that only if somebody by accident stumbles on your named box can they get in.

    I use it several times a week with sites demanding an email address.

    I love this thing and cannot believe it is so cool and free. Hope it helps a little.

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