Privacy and anonymity are in ever more short supply in our new digital age, and more and more people are taking steps to try to find a way back underneath their shadow, even when online.
There is no shortage of reasons why someone would be interested in a hosting service that doesn’t bear their name. Perhaps you’re an anonymous blogger who writes about issues that could wreak havoc in your personal life if people track you down, maybe you’re a corporate whistleblower with an alarming message you’d like leaked without consequences.
On the other hand, it could be you’re just someone who wants more privacy and would like your online presence to stay anonymous and unconnected to your offline life. With anonymous hosting, you can maintain your own website while safeguarding your privacy and anonymity.
How does it work? Let’s take a look at anonymous hosting.
What is Anonymous Hosting?
Anonymous hosting is a service that involves hosting a website for an unidentifiable owner. People who search the domain name won’t be able to find the IP address associated with the site.
Typically when you sign up with a hosting company, you are required to provide identifying personal information. You typically will also be required to pay by way of an account that is linked to your identity. This leaves you few options to remain anonymous.
There are basically 2 types of anonymous hosting—those that require you to give them some of your personal details but keep your identity secret, and those that allow you to remain anonymous from the beginning, even to the hosting company itself.
The latter are more popular with those who are looking to maximize their anonymity online. These companies tend to be based offshore and use bitcoin as payment, because in the United States and European Union, hosting companies are required by law to collect personal data about their customers. These companies may also allow you to pay by way of a prepaid credit card or cash. With these hosting providers, you are almost certainly assured that your information can’t be divulged to a third party, because the company itself doesn’t even have your information.
Are There Any Concerns?
Just because a website is operating anonymously or a hosting service is run offshore and uses bitcoin as payment, doesn’t mean they are involved in illegal activities. Nonetheless, because they are operating in a sort of legal gray-area, it’s reasonable to assume not all of these companies are trustworthy. Fortunately, though, you do have reputable and reliable options.
In addition, if you are using your website for any types of activities that are not entirely legal in your home country, keep in mind that the fact that you are operating through an offshore server doesn’t mean you won’t be subject to any sort of legal repercussions.
Options for Anonymous Server Hosting
If you’re only in need of a simple site, you can use an anonymous email address to set up an account on Tumblr or WordPress. It’s recommended, though, that you cover your tracks by accessing the internet via a virtual private network or by using the anonymous Tor browser. If you’re interested in building a more sophisticated site, 3 of your top options are Iceland’s Orange Website, Sweden’s PRQ, and the Anonymous Speech platform. Each of these options are completely legal and only require an email address to get started. PRQ tends to be a bit pricey, while the other 2 options are far more affordable.
Steps you can take to maximize privacy
- Limit the number of third-party services you integrate into your site, and avoid using Google Analytics or other tracking tools.
- Use a virtual private network or the Tor browser whenever you connect to your anonymous email account or interact with your site at all.
- Don’t create social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc) for your site and don’t post any identifying information about yourself.
- Choose secure passwords for your site as well as your email, hosting and domain registration, and anything else that can be traced back to your site.
- Create a unique, independent and secure email for your website.
- Use a Virtual Private Network when online.
There is no such thing as airtight, unassailable privacy, but through anonymous hosting, you can definitely maximize your ability to stay unknown to the wider online world. Now that you have a solid understanding of how to get set up with anonymous hosting, take some time to look at providers who can supply you with the right safeguards for your site, and get started building your anonymous website.