Surfing anonymously
and with little trace

September 17th, 2022
by Kire, Momo, Marlon, Niko
(translated by Panos)

Digitale Gesellschaft
Digital Society

A non-profit organisation that provides information and advice on consumer and legal issues in the digital space, assesses technology impacts with regard to possible effects on basic and human rights and offers services, software projects and workshops on "digital self-defense".

Digitale Gesellschaft fights for our rights of freedom in a networked world.


  • Introduction
  • Part 1: Surfing with little trace
  • Part 2: Surfing anonymously
  • Summary


  • Where is the danger?
    • Where do we leave traces?
    • Who are the actors?
  • Internet & World Wide Web
    • A quick overview

We leave diverse traces

  • At the visited Webservers
    • and on all other servers from which content is downloaded on behalf of a page visited
  • During data transfer
  • Locally on the Computer/Smartphone

Who are the actors?

  • Server operators
    • Server's log files analysis
    • Possibly through Google Analytics
    • Example:
      "Neue Zuercher Zeitung AG" has accessed the page "Call for demonstration" three times today

Who are the actors?

  • Trackers
    • Advertisement networks, Google, Facebook & Co.
    • Traceability & identification
    • Profile building

Who are the actors?

  • State surveillance
    • Within criminal cases
    • "Prevention" through intelligence services
    • Data retention & tapping fiber-optic communications
Illustration ip stack connections

                     Source: Wikipedia

Illustration: extended ip stack connection
Illustration sub requests

Part 1: Surfing with little trace

  • Browser traces
  • Browser settings
  • Trackers
  • Search engines

Traces: Webserver Logs

  • URL:
  • IP-Address:
  • Browser:   Firefox/104.0
  • Operating System:   Ubuntu Linux x86_64
  • Referrer:
  • Date:   19.07.2022 14:32:01

Traces: Webserver

  • Cookies and also Device- and User Fingerprinting
  • Info about extensions, fonts, screen resolution
  • Metadata
  • Data content (e.g. Basket, Settings, ...)

Browser traces: data transfer

  • Routers, Firewalls, Proxies(*)
  • Tapping copper and fiber-optic communications (Kabelaufklärung)
    • Connection data
    • Data content
    • Federal Intelligence Service
    • But also NSA, GCHQ, BND, etc.

Browser traces: Data retention

Traces: Local Device

  • Local Computer
    • Web-Storage (local or session), Cookies, etc.
    • Cache memory
    • Browser history
  • Smart Device

Traces: Remedy

  • Server: block trackers, delete cookies, clear "local web storage"
  • Data transfer: Attention to encryption (https, 🔒)
    • and do not use mobile phones
  • Local: Delete regularly Cache and Browser history

Browser settings

  • Under "Privacy & Security"
    • Change Enhanced Tracking Protection
      from "Standard" to "Strict"

Browser settings: History

  • Also under "Privacy & Security"
    • Select "Delete cookies and site data when Firefox is closed"
  • Manually with key shortcut Ctrl-Shift-Delete
    • Delete everything, including Offline Website Data

Blocking Trackers

Search engines

Part 2: Surfing anonymously

  • Overview
  • Software installation
  • Tor Browser
  • Onion Services
  • Tor Server

Anonymity on the net

  • Use of proxies
  • Operator must not be able to lift anonymity
  • All communication layers must be considered
    • network connection layer
    • application layer
    • DNS (domain name services) for resolving hostnames into ip network addresses

Tor Project: Purpose

  • Tor provides anonymous, secure and censorship-resistant communication (connections)
  • Hides IP addresses from Client and eventually Server
  • Tor Browser hardens Browser and eliminates distinguishing features
    • Cookies and IDs, Fingerprinting
  • Separation of software development and operation

Tor Project: Overview

  • Opensource project
  • Very well documentated and extensively studied
  • Non-profit Organisation, ~20 employees (2020)
  • Financed through donations
  • approx. 2-3 billion users
  • approx. 6'500 relays, exit traffic volume:
    • ~650 GBit/s advertised
    • ~250 Gbit/s consumed
  • Tor servers of the Digital Society
how tor works 1
how tor works 2
how tor works 3

Tor Browser installation

Illustration tor browser

Onion Services

  • Also known as «Hidden Services»
  • Connecting Tor network with Web servers
  • Both communication partners are "unknown"
  • Communication through Rendezvous points
  • Self-authentication
  • End-to-End encryption


  • Whistleblower portal (SecureDrop, GlobaLeaks)
  • Senders are forced to use Tor and protect themselves
  • PrivacyBox by Digitale Gesellschaft
Illustration digiges tor privacy box

The Tor-Server of Digitale Gesellschaft

  • 4 Servers in Switzerland
  • Total 13 Exit-Node instances (2.5 Gbit/s)
  • One of the biggest Exit-Node operators
  • The network is maintained with donations


  • The most important tips for secure surfing

The most important tips for secure surfing

  • Low trace surfing for daily use
    • Delete often Cookies (and History/Cache)
    • Block trackers and thus Cookies
    • Choose privacy friendly search engines
    • Do not use a mobile phone

The most important tips for secure surfing

  • Anonymous surfing
    • for research purposes
    • As a Whistleblower/Informant
    • Use the Tor Browser from

related links

Many thanks for your interest!



Facebook: DigitaleGesellschaftSchweiz

Twitter: @digiges_ch

Digitale Gesellschaft
4000 Basel

Konto CH15 0900 0000 6117 7451 1