Disappearing in Plain Sight
It’s become incredibly easy to find information about people. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms collect and exchange our data whether we want them to or not. Moreover, government institutions know who we are, where we are, and what we’re doing. This lack of privacy isn’t just unsettling. It can be outright dangerous.
“Doxing” is the internet publication of identifying information (documents) about public or private individuals. Thousands of people have been doxed, which can ruin their careers or their personal lives. Some innovators challenging the status quo require even more privacy, as their personal safety is at risk. SWAT teams have been deployed, in a practice known as “swatting,” after anonymous calls have been placed suggesting a target has committed a homicide. There are ways to protect yourself against malicious practices like this. You can effectively appear off grid, while maintaining your connectivity to the internet. Below are 5 steps we can take to disappear in plain sight:
1. Go Corporate
Most of our purchases are tied to the credit cards and bank accounts we opened in our own names. We can, however, make purchases independent of our legal names. To do so, we need to open an anonymous limited liability company, or LLC. New Mexico, Nevada, and Wyoming are three states that allow individuals to create LLC’s without requiring an owner to be recorded. Bank accounts, credit cards, and other means of transacting can be associated with the anonymous LLC. This will shield you from others, whether they are companies or people, from knowing about your purchasing behaviors. Of course, all small purchases should be made using cash.
2. Get Rid of your Smartphone
Many of the applications on your smartphone collect data about your location. This geolocation service is used to serve you targeted advertisements. If you’re driving in the car using Waze, as an example, you’ll see restaurant and coffee recommendations while you’re stopped. While smartphones unquestionably make our lives easier, this luxury comes at a cost. Companies are able to uniquely identify who you are as long as you use their applications and geolocation services on your smartphone. I suggest you instead use a “dumb” cell phone if you need to place phone calls or text messages with others. “Burner” phones enable an extra layer of privacy and protection.
3. Use a Pseudonym
You may have guessed that my real name isn’t Bunker Bob. A pseudonym is necessary, but not sufficient, to achieve the level of anonymity you need to disappear in plain sight. Both internet and in-person interactions need to take place under the guise of a pseudonym. If you’re truly concerned about privacy, make the extra effort to hide your physically identifying characteristics. When leaving your home, don’t forget your hat and sunglasses.
4. Use a VPN
A virtual private network, or VPN, hides your internet address and location from others. VPN’s make your internet traffic appear to come from a different IP addresses. That’s right, VPN’s aren’t just good ways to watch foreign Netflix shows. They are critical to protecting you from internet attacks from hostile actors.
5. Set up a PO Box
The last proactive measure you can take to secure your anonymity that I’ll cover is setting up a PO Box. If you deliver goods to or are otherwise tied to your home address, you expose yourself to the risk of an attack of one form or another. A PO Box opened by your anonymous LLC will better ensure that your home location is kept secret from any potential attackers.
Worth the Effort to Appear Off Grid?
Few people need to undertake the above efforts to appear as if they’ve gone off grid. There aren’t many people who are actually under the threat of attack. That said, privacy is becoming increasingly scarcer. It’s worth evaluating how much of our personal lives and behaviors are available to others. By taking proactive measures to appear off grid, we can keep our private lives private.
Do you have tips about ways in which we can appear off grid? Leave a comment below or contact me directly.