Unfortunately this is quite staggeringly wrong and a classic example of misinformation on the internet. However privacy is important for many reasons, your data and your browsing should be secure so let me explain some of the concepts behind true anonymity.
So Do I need to Mask my IP Address
Yes you do - unless you take this step you'll never remain anonymous. There are many, many places on the internet which log your IP address, and this address is linked directly to the machine you are browsing from. Recording this address is used for several reasons most of them quite innocent...
- Analysing Visitors and their Location for marketing purposes
- Tracking visitors locations
- Filtering and Blocking users based on their location
- Monitoring behaviour - for commments and forums posts for example
Now you can't connect to anything without an IP address, so to surf anonymously you will have to mask your IP address. This is where a proxy server comes in, it sits in between your computer and forwards web requests to the server you're browsing to. This is the anonymous proxy you have probably read about, proxy because it merely acts as your messenger - sending and forwarding requests, anonymous because the web site you visit will only see the IP address of the proxy.
Think about the Proxy you use
This might seem quite simple but it is at this point many people make a mistake, in this scenario the proxy is crucial. It must be configured correctly to protect and mask your IP address, but more importantly it must be secure and protected as you are trusting all your web logs to this one server!
The essential issues with the proxy, are to ensure it is run securely, many of the free ones on the internet are simply misconfigured servers or hacked proxies. Think carefully about using them - would you trust your privacy to a hacker or an administrator who couldn't lock his server down. I pay for the network of proxy servers I use but at least I know the following;
1) Are fast
2) Are Secure
3) My web logs are deleted instantly
If you have to use a free proxy, be very careful how you select it and never,ever use it for any browsing that involves passwords or private information or surfing anonymously may be the least of your problems.
To Surf Anonymously - another important Factor
If you live in a big brother state and lets face it, how many of us are lucky enough to say we don't. There's another very important point beyond the mask my ip address question. There is a much more comprehensive record of absolutely everything you do on the internet, that's where the big guys target - governments, agencies, big and big league identity thieves go. It's also where the big corporation go to find examples to prosecute and protect their copyright.
So where's this crucial location then - well it's your ISP logs which contain a complete picture of every web site you visit, every page you view and every video you download. The simple truth is that an anonymous proxy won't help a jot in this situation, by this point your too late.
So how do we surf anonymously with our ISP logging every single move we make (and storing those logs for several years). Well the answer is encryption, to keep all your browsing anonymous, a proxy isn't nearly enough - you should encrypt your entire connection.
There are a couple of ways to do this but one of the most effective and efficient ways is to create an encrypted tunnel to browse through.
IP Address masked and Encrypted Connection
This is effectively what you need to aim for, the above example is how Identity Cloaker uses a network of Proxy servers to mask my ip address and an SSH tunnel to encrypt all my web browsing which allows me to surf anonymously it can even let me watch BBC Iplayer from anywhere.