Everyone has thought about leaving the modern world behind at one time or another. No more 24-hour a day news cycle of dread, but instead peace and quiet. If we could, most of us wouldn’t mind just escaping the relentless bombardment of advertising and consumerism. This is second only to leaving social media and its maelstrom of misinformation and big data monitoring.
Regardless of the reason, the fact remains many people believe going off the grid simply isn’t possible anymore. It is also important to note it’s not possible to truly go off the grid completely without attracting significant negative government attention. That being said, it is possible to take back control over most of your privacy and peace of mind. Check out this brief guide to falling off the grid, as well as how to maintain your privacy after you do.
What Does “Off-The-Grid” Mean?
The complex national system of utilities like electricity, natural gas, telephone, internet and water connected to your home is referred to as “the grid”. Going off-grid means your lifestyle no longer depends on public sources for any of the above listed items and more. There are no accounts in your name connecting you to any of it. Here are some specific criteria to living off-grid to clarify what the term really means.
- Dump your landline ISP (internet service provider).
- Use only prepaid “burner” phones.
- Use cash to buy prepaid debit cards and gift cards for purchases online and in person.
- Alter your personal appearance to make you less easily identified by facial recognition.
- Eliminate public utilities for your home as much as possible.
- Use alternative energy and water sources to provide for your own utilities.
Why Go Off-Grid?
The loss of personal privacy has continued to increase as the internet has worked its way into every aspect of our lives. The primary justification for going off-grid is to re-establish personal privacy and establish self-sufficiency. It’s a way to be independent in an increasingly dependent world.
Staying Smart About Privacy: The Best Of Both Worlds
If you aren’t prepared for the more drastic aspects of going off-grid, it is possible to retain the best of both worlds. All you need to do is take steps to increase security around your personally identifiable information and prevent third parties from getting access to your data. Here are some ways you can stay anonymous
The Best Methods For Staying Anonymous
1. Use Alternate Web Browsers/Search Engines
Incognito mode in your web browser isn’t enough to protect your information from ISPs, social media and the government. It is important to do all of your web browsing on a truly anonymous browser like DuckDuckGo, where none of your search history is
2. Change Your Passwords Frequently
Inconvenient as it is, everyone should be doing this anyway to prevent unauthorized access. Random password generators help, but avoid keeping a written password log unless you secure it in a safe.
3. Don’t Visit Unsecured Sites (HTTPS Only)
If a web address doesn’t have an “s” after the “http”, don’t visit it. The “s” stands for “secured”, and secured sites are much more difficult to hack than unsecured sites. In fact, some hackers even set up dummy websites that are unsecured specifically to compromise visitors’ private data and secure information.
4. Create a Private Email Address
Create an email address just to forward spam, then set up the forwarding from your primary email address. It is often more effective than a standard spam filter, and you get far fewer meaningless emails in your inbox.
5. Go Virtually Private with a VPN
Mask your unique identifier number, or IP address, whenever you go online with a VPN (Virtual Private Network). These secure systems allow you to hide your web activity within a separate encrypted network that neither your ISP nor website trackers can penetrate. Combined with an anonymous browser, VPNs make it easy to stay anonymous online and maintain your privacy.
6. Access The Web Via Tor
A private network created by programmers and hackers, Tor is a browser and internet hidden away from public internet channels. It requires a bit of technical expertise to configure, but once you are online you are effectively invisible to the rest of the world online.
7. Ditch Your Mobile Plan For A Burner Phone
Service providers and government agencies can access and track both internet activity and GPS location features on any smartphone that is connected via a major mobile phone network. Instead of using an account in your name attached to your personal data, you can buy a mobile phone in a box.
Set it up on an anonymous account, and cannot be traced back to you. In fact, most prepaid networks don’t require you to use any personally identifiable information. Prepaid smartphones can access Tor or use a VPN too, allowing you to preserve your privacy even using your smartphone daily.
8. Keep Your Money Anonymous With Cryptocurrency
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can be bought, sold and exchanged for standard currencies online anonymously. Keeping some of your financial holdings in a crypto currency like bitcoin ensures that your financial resources remain private and secure. Some businesses and websites also accept bitcoin on a very favorable exchange rate. This means when you need to make a purchase online, you can remain completely anonymous with no risk to your personal data.
9. Use A Virtual Machine To Protect Your Primary Computer
Most consumer level computers can use virtual machines to act as a second computer between their main system and the internet. Work, browsing and shopping are conducted on the virtual machine before it is deleted to erase all traceable history. It’s also an effective way to verify that no files you have downloaded contain viruses or other malicious code.
10. Never Accept Site Cookies
Always decline website cookies. It doesn’t matter if they say it improves the user experience and level of customer service: cookies are trackers that store your identifying information and browsing data. Make certain you clear out cookies in your web browser right away after you spend any amount of time online.
How To Use Solar Power To Stay Anonymous
One of the best ways to stay off the grid is to generate your own electricity with a solar panel system and battery backup. Here’s a summary of what you need to do:
- Calculate how much electricity you use (it should be in your electric bill).
- Determine how many solar batteries you will need (how many kilo-watt hours per day calculated against how many days of backup power you may need).
- Design a solar panel system to fit your needs (number of panels needed to generate the necessary kWh per day).
- Add up the costs of the combined solar plus storage system.
Also Read: How Do Tiny Houses Get Electricity?
Living off-grid comes with a freedom few people have known in their lifetime. That being said, do your own research on each of these methods for enhancing and maintaining your privacy online and in the real world. With the exception of producing your own utilities, there are inherent risks with Tor, VPNs and cryptocurrency.
Make sure you understand each method thoroughly before making your private life private again. That being said, solar panels with battery backup are definitely the best way to start your off-grid journey. Contact us today to learn more about how solar panels can make you energy independent off the grid.