Would you like to remain anonymous while online? Would you like to protect your communications and information? Well, I’m going to show you how you can accomplish this. This is intended to be a comprehensive, full paranoid guide. So use everything or just some to get the protection you deem appropriate. It might be best to read through this guide, determine everything you’ll need, and then go step by step. At the end, I’ve provided some resources for additional help, if this doesn’t provide enough in-depth guidance.
Start From Nothing, Remove Everything
Let’s start from nothing. You need a computer, preferably a laptop. I would recommend a gaming laptop from Amazon. If you want absolutely no traces, you’ll want to buy it used (such as on Craigslist) with cash or have an acquaintance buy it from Amazon. You could buy something from a local store with cash, or get a prepaid credit card and use that.
If the laptop has Windows 10 Professional, then you are good to go. However, it probably does not. So, you need to buy and install that. Again, you can buy this from Amazon, a local store, or through a private purchase. When you are installing it, ensure you select to “Remove Everything”. This just makes sure you have a fresh install without any of the extra software that is usually included.
Windows 10 Professional Required for Bitlocker to Encrypt Drive
Windows 10 Professional is required for bitlocker to encrypt the drive. Now encrypt your entire hard drive. To do this, go to the start button, settings, and manage bitlocker. Select your C drive, and turn on bitlocker. The setup will walk you through what you need to do. You’ll be setting a password.
A Quick Password Guide
It’s time for a quick password guide. The best password is a long password that you can remember without writing it down or saving anywhere. It might be something like “I really need a beer!”. A 21 character password is hard to crack. Use sentences with punctuation. Throw in some numbers, and even if someone does guess your password, it’ll still be hard. You might modify it to be “I Really N33d A B33r!”. Alternatively, you could use a password list of randomly generated characters and keep it with you at all times, but I think sentences are easier. Now go back and change your password for your laptop to something better.
A Recovery Key
Once you set your password for bitlocker, you’ll be given the option to save a recovery key. You can use this key to recover your bitlocker drive, so you’ll either want to securely dispose of it or keep it on you at all times. If you forget your password and lose your recovery key, then you will have a brick that you can start all over with. It will take some time for the drive to encrypt, but you can continue to use it while that is working.
Virtual Private Network
Now you are going to setup a VPN– virtual private network. A VPN encrypts your network traffic between you and the VPN provider. This ensures that if someone is snooping on your connection, all they get is your encrypted traffic. You must, however, trust your VPN provider, because they could be acting as the middleman. There are two that I would recommend– Private Internet Access or Proton VPN. Proton has a free option, if you are limited on resources.
How to Pay For Your VPN
Once again, you’ll be presented with a choice of how to pay for your VPN. You could use the Proton VPN free service to purchase the paid VPN service, using a one-time use email.
Secure Email Service
If you google secure email service, you can find them. In my experience they tend to have ads for porn, therefore, I’m not linking to them. Some of these are going to be “shared”, so you may already have mail in the box and someone could see whatever information is sent to that mailbox. Also, if you lose your information to your paid VPN provider, then you just donated your money. Alternatively you can create a free email with gmail or provider like Proton Mail.
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access has some walk-throughs on setting up their service. Install their client, put in the username and password they provide, and then connect to the server of your choice. If you want a faster connection, select a server that is closer to you. Another use for a VPN is it will allow you to pick where you “are” so that services that will only allow you to watch streaming from their country might allow you to use them. You will want to test your VPN.
Updated with the Latest Protections
Now you need to make sure your computer is updated with the latest protections. Go to your start button, then settings, and search for “check for updates”. Then, click the update button and let the updates get installed. This might take awhile. However, you can continue to use it. You need antivirus software. Windows 10 comes with Windows Defender, which is a good product. You can check for updates by going to settings and searching for Defender. If you want to purchase one from a different vendor, I would recommend ESET or F-Secure. These are only going to protect you so far. If you go looking for trouble (malware, backdoors, et cetera), they may or may not protect you.
Virtual Machines For Internet Activity
All of this was to setup your computer; however we’re not going to use this computer for our Internet activity. We’re going to setup virtual machines for Internet activity. A virtual machine is a software computer that runs on a host, like your computer we just setup. With a virtual machine we can reasonably ensure that it is clean after every use. And, if we need, we can download or setup a new one just to be sure.
Downloads Necessary to Create Our Virtual Machines
Some downloads are necessary to create our virtual machines. You will need to download Virtual Box, a Windows virtual machine, and Tails, which is a Linux virtual machine. There are other options to Virtual Box; however, it is free and does what we need. Feel free to purchase something, if you desire extra features. Install Virtual Box; you can just hit “Next” through the menu options.
I would recommend the “MS Edge Windows 10 Stable” Windows virtual machine, but you can choose any of them. You need to make sure you download the one for Virtual Box, if that is the VM software you have decided to use. Browse to your download and then extract the contents of the file. This should be a .ovf file, which will import the virtual machine into Virtual Box. Double click the file and when prompted select Import.
Snapshots of This Virtual Machine
We need a few snapshots of this virtual machine. The first is right after it is imported. A snapshot allows us to restore the virtual machine to a specific state, like when we first imported it. We will call this the baseline. Click on the virtual machine, then in the right side of the window select “screenshots”. Then click the camera icon and name it “baseline”. If you ever mess something up, you can restore this virtual machine to this point for a fresh start.
Boot the Virtual Machine Up
Hit the start button in Virtual Box to boot the virtual machine up. It starts up with a default user and password, which you can find on the page where you downloaded it. Select Input and then Keyboard, and ctrl+alt+delete. Now select Change a Password, and change the password using the guidelines I recommend above.
We’ll continue with the procedures for remaining anonymous online and protecting your information tomorrow, in Part 2.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 76 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 76 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.