How and Why to Keep Multiple Online Identities Separate

Some people just choose to have fun with online anonymity as you can be anyone you choose to be without being discovered. You can show your true self to the world without fear of judgment from society or your family. So by being that which you truly are in the virtual world, you can express yourself freely. It is however necessary that you keep your multiple online identities separate to avoid one being linked to the other.

Table of Content

1 . IP Address

2. Metadata in Documents and Images

3. URL Shorteners

4. Plugins, Add-Ons, Extensions, Apps

5. Phishing, Malware, Hacking

6. Text Message Verification

7. Public Records

8. Cookies

9. Interpersonal Relationships

10. Writing Style

11. Making Online Payments

12. Receiving Payments Online

13. Browser Fingerprint

14. Device IDs

15. Shipping Location

16. How to Protect Your Multiple Online Identities

17. What to Do If Your Secret Identity Has Been Discovered

18. How to Get Help Securely

In keeping multiple personalities separate, and unrelated to a legal identity, you need to understand how a false identity can be de-anonymized. Read on to find out how you can be de-anonymized online and your real identity discovered.


IP Address

This is a high-risk way to be de-anonymized and it’s pretty easy. Your mobile phone, computer, or any devices you use to connect to the internet are all assigned a unique number through which you are identified on the internet. Your ISP allocates the numbers and may over time give you a new one. But if separate accounts are opened from the same IP address, it’s a pointer that they are related.

Depending on your country and ISP, you can find out the zip codes for each IP address, or other personal information about the user of the IP address.

Solution

To keep you anonymous even if you use the same device for your different online identities, use the Tor browser. Each tab in the Tor browser has a new circuit automatically, so every request from a new tab carries a different IP address. you can also make use of a good VPN especially if you don’t have access to the Tor browser, or the sites you are working with don’t work in Tor.


Metadata in Documents and Images

Many apps leave a good amount of information in your device called metadata. They can be used to identify you and the information it’s made of could include your operating system version, your name, and your GPS coordinates.

Solution

You can scrub metadata from your files and documents before you upload or share them with these metadata removal tools.


URL Shorteners

With a URL shortener, a long and bulky web address is turned into a short address by redirecting. Third parties usually use this and it’s easy to set up. Even though not every URL shortening link is malicious, hackers use them to redirect you to suspicious sites where they carry out phishing attacks, steal personal information such as your location, IP address, browser version, operating system, and also place cookies in your device.

Solution

If you don’t have any good reason to click on shortened links, then don’t. It’s better to see the final destination of a shortened link before you click on it and services like unshorten.it can help you with that. By unshortening a link, the creator of the original will only be able to see information from the unshortening service and not your data.

Interesting Read : The History of the Internet, When It Was Invented, And How It Got to Where It Is Today


Plugins, Add-Ons, Extensions, Apps

This is also a high risk as plugins, add-ons, extensions, and apps can be used against you. be careful when using such especially those that are for sensitive platforms. Extensions like Privacy Badger, uBlock Origin, or HTTPS Everywhere can be used for your protection and also against you.

Plugins can read your emails, monitor your browsing activity, and even change web content.

Solution

Don’t install apps from unknown sources, and only use apps that are well known. Download such as the original developer and don’t participate in beta testing if you are trying to protect your privacy.


Phishing, Malware, Hacking

Those who are well known and of high standing, or have a lot of enemies will be regularly faced with threats of phishing and malware. Malware tools can be easily gotten from the internet and can be customized to suit your specific need and target. They are easy to use, and only become more difficult when they are targeted.

Solution

Cover your camera with a sticker, and insert a dead cable into your microphone jack. Update your software regularly and don’t enter your passwords in just any place. Be careful of links you click, and use a two-factor authenticator for all your accounts.


Text Message Verification

This also poses a high risk to your online anonymity as it has become a common practice for services to request phone numbers from their clients. Phone numbers are useful for two-factor authentication and can also be used to tie different identities together since some services permit searches to be done using phone numbers.

Solution

For your alternate identities, use an anonymous SIM card and ensure it has a long expiration date.


Public Records

The availability of your public records such as voter card, home address, or vehicle registration varies depending on your location. In some places, such information may be readily available. Also note that when you file a police report, such a document becomes a public document and will most certainly include your name and email.

Solution

In some countries, it’s cheap to incorporate a company to protect your identity. A company can be used to hide your identity as the owner of a home or car from prying eyes.


Cookies

A cookie is a stored file on your computer by the websites you visit so that when you revisit, it will be easier. You won’t have to login every time, and pages will load faster, improving the user experience. Some cookies are however set up by third-party ad companies to track you across every website you visit. This way, whatever multiple online identities you have will be unraveled and linked to your real identity.

Solution

If you are browsing with the Tor browser, simply close the browser and reopen, then clear the cache when using another tab. You can easily set your browser to forget all cookies whenever you restart it, or you can use incognito mode for an alternate identity. It’s even better if you use different browsers for different identities so it will be harder to link all to you.


Interpersonal Relationships

Those you know can point to who you are. If you have multiple online identities separate but with access to the same contact list, the accounts can all be linked together even if the account names and IP addresses are not the same.

Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook will allow others to see some of your account information like mutual friends and followers. So if you follow the same tweets on Twitter with different accounts, it will only be a matter of time before someone links both accounts together.

Solution

Don’t grant just every permission to apps when they request for it. Go through it first and be sure you are okay with it. Keep contacts for your separate online identities separate for each.

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Writing Style

Your writing style poses a medium risk to your multiple identities being de-anonymized as it can be used to identify you. if you are used to using certain words, emojis, or writing in a specific way your faithful readers can tell who you are. Even if there won’t be any definite proof to link the two accounts together, a stalker will have a hunch on which to continue investigating.

Solution

Write in clear language without the use of slang or repetitive use of a favorite emoji. Avoid short spellings as they can be ties to you too.


Making Online Payments

Many online services and hosting platforms require that you make payment at some point. Using a single credit card to make payments under your pseudonym has the potential to expose you as the merchant can see your real legal name and card number.

Solution

Get a prepaid credit card that you can load with cash. You will need a different card for each of your identities because using one for all would expose you. you can make payments through other means such as with bitcoin or ethereum.


Receiving Payments Online

If you are using a pseudonym for a cause and you need to receive donations, it can be hard getting an account. Many financial institutions require a form of a valid identification before an account can be opened, and even if you do find one that doesn’t ask for that, they may freeze your account at any point.

Solution

If you must receive payments online without giving up your anonymity, you will need to fall back to a cryptocurrency.


Browser Fingerprint

Many website trackers use cookies to identify a user, but some also go beyond this method. With browser fingerprinting, an internet user can be identified across different websites even under a different identity. This is still possible even if you delete cookies.

Solution

If you must use the same device for your multiple identities, then avoid using the same browser for each. Tor browser however can be used for all multiple online identities as each tab gives a new IP address. if you are using a regular browser, don’t customize it by changing screen size or using add-ons as these make it possible to link an account to you.


Device IDs

Mobile devices are particularly easy to identify through a device ID. App developers have access to this ID for advertisements, but you can never be so sure that’s all. Network cards also have their identifiers known as the MAC address. logging into a Wi-Fi makes this MAC address visible to the router and it could be used to link all of your separate online identities together.

Solution

Avoid random downloads of apps especially from unknown sources. Give preference to operating systems like IOS and TAILS as they give random MAC addresses to help with your anonymity.


Shipping Location

When you make purchases that have to be shipped to you, it can become difficult to maintain online anonymity especially if you don’t trust the online merchant.

Solution

It’s best to ship your products to a false name and then pick it up from there. Have an authorization slip handy in case you need to check it out and somebody asks. You can use reshippers alternatively.


How to Protect Your Multiple Online Identities

There are ways in which you can protect the privacy of your online identities to avoid being discovered. But the most effective ways are those that are specifically tailored to your needs. It can be an expensive task to have multiple online identities separate as you may need, for example, a different laptop for your pseudonym.

Choose any of the various options to protect your online identities depending on which is most convenient for you.

1. Use A Dedicated Device for Your Other Identities

Get a different device for your other online personality and configure it from scratch using this identity. Set it up just like you would a normal computer; install an operating system, set up your email, install a browser, set your social media, and also have a password manager. This way it will be difficult to link the identity to your real one. You can go even further by using a VPN for your alter ego.

2. Use an Operating System That Protects Your Identity

An operating system like TAILS can be used if you must work with only one device for your various identities. TAILS can be installed on a USB stick and as you won’t be able to switch between your primary and secondary accounts, you will have to restart the computer. This will make sure you make no mistakes, no data is saved where it shouldn’t be, and it will be easier to clean up metadata.

3. Create A Different User Account On Your Computer for This Identity

By creating a different user account for your other identity, you will have separate profiles for each one. This way, your cookies won’t be shared and your browser profile will be unique to each user. To make it even more difficult to link multiple accounts in this way, use a VPN with separate locations for each account.

4. Have A Dedicated Browser for Your Alternate Identity

Having a dedicated browser for each alternate identity eliminates the effect of browser fingerprinting and cookies to monitor you. note however that your browsing will still be through the same IP address and you can be traced with this. So use a VPN and chose a different IP server to appear different when using each account.

5. Have A Different Browser Profile for Each Identity

You can personalize your browser profile so you can know which browser is used for what identity. This will help you avoid making mistakes.

Interesting Read :Phishing Scams Have Evolved and This Is How They Steal Billions


What to Do If Your Secret Identity Has Been Discovered

A time will come when your secret identity will be discovered as there are no guarantees even from the steps that can help you protect the identity. There are however some ways you can get back into the dark and it depends on how much of your information is known. If enough has already been found about you, then your cover is blown.

  • Clear your cookies every once in a while as doing so will sign you off all your accounts. It will also clean up every information you may have been giving away unknowingly.
  • If you are having access via a SIM card, change SIMs from time to time.
  • If your ISP has assigned you a static IP address, request for IP change periodically.
  • If you are using a VPN, don’t connect to one server location for too long.

How to Get Help Securely

Note that the people you are asking for help are not experts at keeping your information secure, so if you want to remain anonymous, then use an alternate identity. Nobody needs to know who you are before they can help you. also, note that not every communication channel gives you the same level of privacy. Prepaid SIM cards and online VoIP providers give you better security and you should use these when placing the call for help.


Conclusion

It can be hard being yourself especially when you are in a society that frowns at what you intend to do. It can also be hard to speak up freely if you are in an environment that doesn’t support the opposition. You mustn’t put yourself in danger, or risk the rejection of everyone because you are embarrassing yourself as you can discreetly have an alternate identity to be real. Having multiple online personalities is easy, but keeping these multiple online identities separate is the problem. There are various ways you can avoid being discovered, but you will ultimately need a good VPN if your privacy is important to you.

LimeVPN gives you security and anonymity, with its military-grade encryption and servers in several locations worldwide. So you can be whoever you want to be, wherever you want people to believe you are and be yourself without fear.

A Complete gamer and a Tech Geek. Brings out all her thoughts and love in writing blogs on IOT, software, technology etc