Are you planning to host a website anonymously? Your reason might range from expressing your views freely on a subject, ensuring your safety when writing on sensitive political topics, or keeping your writings away from publicity when you are a public figure.
Whatever the reason might be, you are at the right place. I understand that certain topics can be discussed much freely by keeping your identity anonymous. So I’m here disclosing all the tips and tricks of hosting a website anonymously to help you express your views without any worries.
What is anonymous web hosting?
Before we find ways to host a website anonymously, let us understand what anonymous web hosting is. We all know that the information we provide while registering a domain is publicly available on the WHOIS online database. This reveals your identity to the world and you can easily be traced if someone wishes to find out about you.
Anonymous web hosting ensures to keep your identity hidden from the world no matter how much effort someone puts into finding out about your information. Depending on the level of anonymity you desire, you can choose to work on a few or all aspects that will keep your information private.
How can my anonymity be compromised?
It is extremely important to understand how your anonymity can be compromised before successfully hosting a website anonymously. Your privacy is breached via multiple channels like:
- Your information is available on the online WHOIS record, as discussed above.
- Your email address.
- Your IP address can be found in your server logs or as part of the header of your emails.
- Your payment details, like credit card details, can reveal critical information about you.
- Your Google Analytics account when you use it for tracking multiple websites.
- Information stored by your internet service provider, domain registrar, and web hosting provider.
Steps to host a website anonymously
Now that you know how your identity can be revealed when hosting a website, let us discuss the steps to host a website anonymously here:
Create an anonymous email
The very first step to hosting an anonymous website is creating an anonymous email. You will be required to submit your email when you sign up with different service providers. All your accounts with different service providers are created with your email. Also, your domain registrar, web host, and other companies will communicate with you via email.
Using a Gmail or other non-anonymous email carries a risk of revealing your identity. Such mass email providers can be forced by the government to reveal your location and IP address in case you are expressing your political views freely on your website. Therefore, creating an anonymous email is extremely important for complete anonymity.
Register a domain anonymously
Once you have a private email that won’t reveal your identity, it is time to register a domain for your website. Going for a regular registrar will risk leaking your information.
Even if you choose to hide your WHOIS information by purchasing domain privacy protection, this risk is only reduced but not eliminated. The government or other powerful groups can pressurize these domain registrars to reveal your information.
To prevent such a situation, you can consider registering a domain anonymously under a pseudonym like Publius used by some activists. In such a case, when registering for a domain, you can enter information that does not reveal anything about you.
Alternatively, you can go for an anonymous domain registrar instead of choosing a regular registrar. Such domain providers will not reveal your identity to anyone in any case.
Purchase a hosting plan from the right host
After having a domain name, purchasing a web hosting plan for your website is the next step. Your web host will collect your information when you register an account with it thereby risking your anonymity. Such regular hosts can be easily pressurized by powerful authorities to reveal your information.
You can, therefore, create a hosting account with your anonymous email and the same pseudonym that you used for registering your domain. Other information can also be provided in a manner that does not reveal your identity.
Alternatively, you can choose an anonymous web hosting provider instead of a regular host. Such anonymous service providers won’t reveal your identity to anyone.
Create your website content without revealing your identity
Once you have a website ready, it is time to create content for it. You must be careful not to reveal your identity in any manner when expressing your views. Additionally, I recommend writing your content offline on your device so that no one can trace its creation.
After you finish writing your blog post, check it twice for any words that might reveal you as the owner of the website. You must also examine the images used in the post and delete any private information that they might contain.
Uploading your content to the website anonymously
Since you have now prepared your website content, it is time to upload it anonymously. You cannot use your internet services to upload a post to an anonymously owned website.
It is because your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will know that the website is being operated by you. So if the government or other powerful groups pressurize your ISP, your information will no longer remain anonymous.
It is, therefore, important to upload your content from a public place using a public WiFi connection. Always log in to your domain and upload your content using public WiFi only to protect revealing your identity.
Additional measures to foolproof your anonymity when hosting a website
The above steps will help you create a website anonymously and post content privately to it. You need to, however, follow some more measures to foolproof your anonymity when hosting a website privately.
Always pay via Cryptocurrency
Paying via credit card or PayPal will reveal your identity to your service providers like domain registrar, web host, and others. So, it is extremely important to use a payment method that hides your identity.
Cryptocurrency is the best option for making anonymous payments to host a website anonymously. Thus, look for those service providers who accept payments in cryptocurrency when creating your private website. I would recommend using a Bitcoin address or other crypto currency’s address that is not published earlier at any other place.
Pro tip: Use a cryptocurrency that uses stealth addresses (single-use addresses) and ring signatures (digital signatures with multiple possible signers) like Monero. Your payment transactions are much more difficult to trace with such currencies than the usual ones like Bitcoin.
Never use Google Analytics or other third-party services
Using third-party services like Google Analytics can increase the risk of leaking your identity online. A quick “reverse ID lookup” will reveal all your activity on the Google Analytics account.
So if you are tracking multiple websites from a single Google Analytics account, your critical information can be easily extracted when you are not masking your identity on those additional websites. You can either avoid such services altogether or consider remaining anonymous for all the websites you track via such services.
I would recommend avoiding sign-ups with any third party. Using a simple theme for your website without any add-ons and third-party scripts will help you maintain your anonymity quite easily.
Use a VPN service
When you post privately to your website using a public WiFi connection, your device might get tracked. Your laptop leaves fingerprints when accessing the internet. Your operating system, browser, network interface’s MAC address, and more such critical information might lead to revealing your identity.
To prevent this, you can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for getting an additional layer of security to your browser. A reliable VPN will ensure to hide all your online activities by providing you with a temporary IP address to hide your original one.
Additionally, you can consider using The Onion Router (Tor) browser network to further ensuring your anonymity. Tor routes your data through different computers multiple times thereby creating several layers of security to hide your IP address.
Pro tip: Use Tor over a VPN to hide your internet activity from the VPN provider and ISP. Using an onion network over a VPN will also add multiple layers of encryption to the data while uploading, so your chances of getting traced are almost impossible.
Use offshore services
After doing all the above efforts, no one will be able to identify you as the owner of your website but what if the government takes your website down by seizing your domain or the server on which your website is hosted. All your money and efforts will be wasted and you’ll have to set it all up again or you might be disheartened to never try that again!
To prevent this from happening, use service providers belonging to offshore locations for creating your website anonymously. Offshore locations like Iceland provide complete freedom of speech through strong speech laws and do not limit your freedom via censorship of online content.
Therefore, choosing an offshore web host, domain provider, and VPN provider will help you maintain complete privacy to your website data. In such a case, your sensitive information will never be given away to any government.
Additionally, your service provider cannot be pressurized to take your website down in the absence of any legal action in that jurisdiction. Thus offshore services are the best when it comes to ensuring continuity of your anonymously hosted website.
Use a portable operating system
Though the above measures are sufficient to prevent your identity when hosting a website anonymously and sharing your political or other viewpoints, this additional measure will protect you in case your laptop is being checked by authorities based on suspicion.
Instead of writing your website content offline on your laptop, consider using an operating system off of your device. You can keep a Pendrive specifically for this purpose and install an operating system and browser over it.
If you are planning to use Tor as your browser for privacy, consider the portable operating system, Tails, provided by the same company. Tails also have an office suite with a word processor that can be used for creating blog posts with complete anonymity.
Using a portable operating system will prevent you from leaving any trace of your website content on your laptop. All your content is privately created through a Pendrive that you can easily hide and never disclose to anyone.
Additionally, you can prevent revealing your activity performed via Pendrive by password-protecting Tails. So even if you lose your Pendrive accidentally or some authority finds it, your activity will remain anonymous.
Hosting a website anonymously without spending any money
You will have to spend a lot of money to host a website anonymously and prevent the authorities from taking it down. But if you want to choose the free option, you will have to compromise the stability of your website. You can, however, remain anonymous online without spending any money.
To achieve this, you can sign up with a free blogging platform like WordPress and Blogger and get a subdomain for your use. Use a free anonymous email service to register with the platform so your identity is not revealed from your email.
Additionally, use a free VPN and Tor network to hide your IP address whenever you access these free blogging platforms. Use Tor over a VPN before registering with them as well as whenever you upload your content.
In this way, you can host a website anonymously without spending any money on buying a domain or hosting service for your website. The only risk here is, as discussed above, your blog getting deleted by the platform if it is deemed offensive or otherwise goes against the terms and conditions of the blog provider.
Hosting a website anonymously might seem like a difficult task but following the above steps and considering all the measures I discussed above, will certainly help you achieve your goal.
Do you think freedom of speech laws should be much stronger worldwide to help you express yourself more freely?