Why all people should consider total Internet privacy when they are doing online! Everything you do on the Internet will stay there in be traceable.
The Internet will never forget, vanish or delete your information, your personal history ot what else you left there that can be traced back to you.
While an offshore bank account for most of us is a way to safeguard our money, for plenty of people it is also a way to have a secret stash of it somewhere. Maybe the political climate in your country is volatile and you don’t want to lose it all overnight or maybe you are just afraid that your family members will squander all the wealth you have so painstakingly amassed.
Needless to say, privacy is a very important concern for a vast majority of us. Especially when you realize how intrusive everyone, whether government agencies, big brands and tech companies are about our lives today.
Any good offshore jurisdiction worth its weight will ensure that the operation you set up is kept completely private with no information being made privy to prying eyes. It is one of the advantages that come with it. Yet, you should not simply rely on their security measures in place and rest easy.
Do not forget that everything you do on the Internet is tracked. The big brother is always watching over and this is why you want to ensure that you have total Internet privacy when it comes to your financial operations.
Securing your online activity
We saw what happened with the Panama Papers. Authorities used the Internet to track information that never should have come to the public forefront. Even if you were not doing anything illegal, you would not want your own personal info and especially information about your financial status to go public.
You may have an anti virus or a firewall install on your PC but what happens when you go online? Your Internet provider and companies like Google are able to track everything you do, your precise location and even see the software install on your computer. You can’t have that.
This is why it is crucial that you use a Virtual Private Network or a VPN, which allows you to browse the web anonymously, secure behind IP addresses that are different to your own without anyone being able to track you.
Even if someone hacked into your Wi-Fi network, they could not see what you are doing behind a secure VPN, such is its power.
In the end it is suffice to say that when operating any sort of an offshore bank account, privacy is a must and it all starts with you and the initiative you take.
Starting it offline
Safeguarding privacy starts offline, as it is known that most leaks and hacks are almost always a result of social engineering. First of all, keep all the plans of opening an offshore account to yourself, no need to mention it to your girlfriend or your beer buddies.
Secondly, ask for assurances from your agents. They will be dealing with your personal documents and it is crucial that they have security measures in place that keep all of that information private. If a single court order is all it takes for them to spill the beans, then they are not the agency you should be working with.
What It Takes to Come Close to Total Internet Privacy & Anonymity
Privacy and anonymity are not just about keeping your personal life to yourself. They are not about closing the door when getting into the toilet. Instead, in today's age of technology, these two concepts are about gaining liberty, political freedom, autonomy and overall protection in a well-exposed digital industry – simple as that.
It makes no difference what you do. You might be interested in starting an offshore business, or maybe you manage a large corporation. The more people find out about you, the more effective and targeted their potential attacks can be. For an enterprise, it is all about money and key people. For the average Joe, it is mostly about personal finances.
Offshore business people seeking privacy are more about protecting themselves against greedy governments. In a world where globalization is simply part of the game, people have realized that this phenomenon goes in more directions and money is one of them. While governments try to regulate this aspect by establishing partnerships and new laws, different countries have different rules.
In terms of privacy, there are specific steps you can take to ensure no one can track you. Sure, it is quite difficult to be 100% anonymous and you need to plan every move you make. But at the end of the day, a bit of time and energy will give you the required results. Obviously, some technical know-how will also be required.
Anonymity vs. privacy – Is there a difference?
The concept of encryption is natural these days. In fact, it is way easier to encrypt something than to decrypt it. Encryption is about privacy. But on the other hand, anonymity is a different idea. Most people – including experienced people – use these words interchangeably in an incorrect manner and here is what makes them different.
Take an encrypted message, for instance. You send it to someone through an application that encrypts such communication. A well-encrypted message cannot be read by anyone else – just you and the person you sent it too. Unless encryption is falsely advertised, there should be no third parties with access to your communication.
But then, encryption will not clear out the metadata. That is where your anonymity is. Basically, others cannot see what you are talking about, but they can see who you talk to, when you do it, how long and so on. They can see what type of communication it is, the size of your attachments and so on. Such information is not encrypted and can be easily decoded by both hackers and governments.
Before diving in, it is worth noting that the concept of being online has also changed over the past few decades. You are no longer online now. Instead, you live online. More spaces have merged – the cyberspace and real life. Phones are tracked, facial recognition is public and so on. This is why being 100% anonymous is difficult, but you can get pretty close.
Signal is a step forward…
But not the ultimate idea. Signal is a good start for the least experienced people. Basically, it is a messaging application with a top-notch encryption – better than what you can get from the classic ones that everyone uses. You can make calls – including video calls, send text messages and attachments with no issues at all.
The encryption is what makes the difference and is so advanced that not even governments can hack into. In terms of appearance, the app looks like any other messaging tool. Simply put, you cannot tell what kind of protocols it relies on. You do not need any technical experience to use it either – suitable for both noobs and advanced users.
What happens to the metadata then? Signal is not perfect. Such things are still there. Governments can still see who you talk to, how long for and when. The people behind Signal are aware of these issues and limitations. They are currently trying to find different ways to overcome such issues. But at the end of the day, metadata resistant applications are still a thing of the future.
The good news is that compared to other similar apps, Signal is the more secure alternative. It provides more anonymity than other applications. Do not stick to it for maximum anonymity though because this concept is still far from reality. While Signal does help, you need to bring in more tools to ensure your actions are secret.
Tor is the ultimate browser...
Literally! This is the most significant metadata resistant project out there. It does an excellent job and is by far the closest you can get to full anonymity when browsing. This is also one of the reasons wherefore Tor has been associated with dodgy activities too – such as dealing with banned substances, guns or other illegal things over the dark web.
Again, while Tor is incredibly good, it does not provide 100% anonymity and it does have a few technical limitations. The browser is designed for low latency browsing. It supports TCP only and believe it or not, some big portals have actually banned it – basically, you may not be able to access some large websites if they detect your browser.
Now, while the anonymity standards are quite high, they are not complete. At the moment, it is the best thing you can use and it is very likely to dominate the market for many years. Like many other things in life, Tor has two blades. Journalists use it to keep private or find secret information during their investigations, but criminals also use it for all sorts of things.
Websites on the dark web will look different with Tor and addresses are encrypted. Basically, expect an amalgam of numbers and letters as the address, as well as the .onion extension. Now, while lots of people badmouth the dark web, this is only a general idea. For instance, just because murderers and robbers drive cars, it does not mean that cars should be banned.
Furthermore, you can find Tor for mobile uses as well. Besides, the Brave browser also has a feature for those who want to get closer to Tor. It is worth considering the OnionBrowser alternative too. However, most of these applications are not officially accepted in software centers and libraries, so you may have to rely on third-party sources.
Stick to zero knowledge services
Try to see the web industry as it is and stop lying to yourself. Just because you are not a prolific politician, it does not mean that no one will bother about you. It does not mean that your data is not checked. Sure, it is not like someone, in particular, will pick your name out of nowhere. Instead, there are scripts, keywords and so on.
To help you get a better idea, Google will read every email going through your inbox and sent folders. Use Microsoft Office and everything you type will be thoroughly scanned. Uploading someone? Whether you do it over Google or DropBox, everything you upload will be thoroughly examined. The list can go on forever…
These companies are known as PRISM providers. In other words, they have a tight collaboration with different programs – mostly those used for mass surveillance. What does it mean? If Google or Microsoft can see something – among many other companies, chances are your government will also be able to see it. There is no privacy whatsoever.
The good news is different providers out there promote a zero-knowledge operation. You cannot tell whether or not that is true. You cannot determine the actual operating principles, but many technical reviews point towards a few top-notch services out there. Sure, you could encrypt stuff before using public services, but at the end of the day, PGP is more suitable.
You can never be 100% sure a particular service is not backdoored. There are alternatives to DropBox, Microsoft Office, most browsers, email providers and so on. No matter what you use, make sure you do your homework upfront. Educate yourself, get some authentic reviews and stick to less services to improve your anonymity.
Keep an eye on app permissions
No matter what app you choose to install, you will be prompted with some permission requests. It makes no difference if you use an Android device or an iOS one. Each app will tell you what kind of permissions it requires. Most people never bother to go through them. They click accept and move on with the installation.
Most applications require more details than what they actually need. Social media apps will require access to your gallery, contacts and phone calls. What is the purpose of all these? Uninstall your favorite app and reinstall it, but pay attention to the permission requirements now. Chances are you will be shocked. All the data extracted from your device will then be sent to the app developer.
Random apps will require access to your microphone or perhaps your location, even if they are not needed for its functionality. Some other apps will need access to the address book. Why? Make sure you dig through the settings of your device as well. Turn off all the unnecessary permissions that could cause significant prejudice.
Get rid of your home assistant
Your home assistant can be considered a valuable and convenient tool. Why? Just because the robot can play a song for you or tell you the weather? How much time does it actually save you? A few seconds? No matter what home assistant you use, getting rid of it and the associated snitches will add to your privacy.
Such digital gadgets are extremely poisonous. Not only can they be hacked into, but you cannot limit their permissions either. They will always invade your privacy. Some of them can be invasive even if you avoid them. For example, if everyone in your area has a Ring camera or doorbell and everything is recorded, your meatspace movements will never be private.
At the end of the day, some of these things are actually useful – such as a camera. It is up to you to identify your needs and priorities. But on the same note, you do not necessarily need a smart camera. You do not always need notifications on your smartphone. A loud alarm triggered by different cameras is more than enough.
Established by a provider in Switzerland, ProtonMail seems to be the ultimate choice for privacy. It is rated as the world’s most secure service. It provides top-notch encryption and plenty of security to ensure your communication is private. More importantly, the company hosting emails has no access to them, so there is no way they can be shared with third parties.
The email service has a no logs policy. You can have it in more languages and it offers access to self-destructing emails. In other words, they get deleted before someone can even attempt to get to them. It is obviously not a good choice if you use to store things in your email, but when you want anonymity, chances are you will not do it anyway.
Most VPNs are not anonymous
VPNs are often advertised to provide anonymity – just a misconception. There is no anonymity whatsoever. Sure, you could hide your identity from websites, but you will not be able to hide it from the actual VPN provider. Now, it also depends on what you are up to. Legal offshore applications will not get you in trouble, but crime will.
Most people believe in the myth that VPNs can provide anonymity. So, what does a VPN do after all? It moves the trust from your Internet service provider to your VPN provider. If you travel a lot, it will move the trust from your local hotel or coffee shop to a different server. There are lots of good reasons wherefore VPNs are handy in terms of security, but anonymity is not one of them.
Compare VPNs to Tor, for example. Tor bounces your traffic through three different nodes over the Internet. It is extremely difficult for someone else to see what you do – not impossible though. You no longer allow your ISP to see what you do, but the VPN provider. Lots of VPN providers have been forced to share data by court orders, leading to significant arrests overtime.
Careful with your posts too
So, what does privacy actually mean? Autonomy. You gain freedom. You gain the option to keep private stuff private, but you can also share what you want to share. Simply put, you have full control over your life. If you are going through a hard time and you do not want the people to find out about it, simply make sure you do not post anything about it – you do not have to be a genius to figure out how it works.
Now, different generations have different points of view when it comes to posting on social media. The old generation cringes at the idea of being stalked or followed over the Internet. An older individual with nothing to hide will still be anxious about apps and programs that gain lots of permissions and can provide access to their personal files, even if there is nothing important there.
On the other hand, a younger individual is more likely to store plenty of useful information – banking details, card details, social media passwords and so on. If the old generation dislikes the idea of dirty laundry in public, younger generations grew up with these trends. They believe that sharing in excessive amounts if healthy and normal.
Indeed, there is a time and place for certain aspects of your life. Keep in mind that everything you post will get others to change their perception over you. Such things are also likely to last, so if you are into anonymity, an online presence is not really your best bet. A few details about your life mixed with a few personal details can build a pretty accurate picture of yourself.
Chiseling hieroglyphics in stone is probably less durable than social media posts. Sure, it is too early to prove this point because the trend is relatively new – less than a couple of decades. But based on the powers of the world wide web, chances are the more posts you come up with, the more of a personal picture you expose.
Tails is an operating system – just like Windows or Linux. The difference? It is a live operating system with incredible capabilities. Since it is live, it can be run from a DVD or perhaps a classic USB stick. In other words, you can run it on any machine in the world, regardless of its location. It will work wonders and given its extremely low requirements, it will work on any computer in the world.
How does Tails work then? Simple. Plug the USB stick in and get a fresh copy of the system. Use it through the USB stick. There will be a bit of data stored on the USB stick as you use the system, regardless of your activities. Now, here comes the best part. Shut the computer down and everything will be erased. The next time you turn it on, you will have a fresh and clean version of Tails to use.
Tails gained notoriety because Edward Snowden used it to reveal sensitive information regarding immoral activities in the NSA. The NSA kept an eye on him, but the operating system was too good to break into. If the NSA was not professional enough to hack into the encryption, chances are your activities will also be perfectly safe.
All the software coming with the operating system is designed with anonymity in mind. Basically, you will use Tor to browse the web. You can also use ProtonMail to send and receive messages. There are other programs out there that will add to your security over the web – the possibility to erase everything as you restart the computer is the main one though.
Now, it is important to know that Tails will give you great protection, but only if you follow some rules. Give out some information about yourself, make a few mistakes and you will instantly become vulnerable. Sure, data can still be private, but at the end of the day, it depends on what you need the system for – make sure you go through all the documentation upfront.
Why do you need to be anonymous?
Again, privacy is one thing and anonymity is a completely different thing. There are more reasons wherefore you might want to be anonymous over the Internet. When it comes to offshore enthusiasts, you may not necessarily want everyone to know where you stash your money – legal money, of course. You do not want a potential lawsuit to ruin your life savings or your company either.
Offshore entrepreneurs are often targeted by hackers simply because they are nowhere close to where the action takes place. From this point of view, it pays off dealing with reputable services, whether it comes to company registration, accounting or bank accounts. At the end of the day, you are supplying private documents, as well as personal data.
All this data can be used against you. In other words, you do not want a two-person service to handle your banking accounts from a basement – the type of service that was established two days ago and runs with a couple of standard laptops connected to a basic wireless network. Instead, you need a larger company with a good reputation and proven security protocols.
With these thoughts in mind, there are certain ways to improve the security of your work and activities. Privacy is good, but anonymity is great. You do not necessarily need to be anonymous if you go offshore, especially if you have nothing to hide and you are not a criminal. But at the end of the day, you do not walk down the street telling everyone how rich you are and how much money you carry on yourself.
You do not want to expose yourself and this is what makes anonymity so important.