Right now Anonymous serves more purposes than the general public understands. Anonymous represents a black privacy curtain pulled across the internet. Once you pass behind this privacy curtain, you become one of the infinite voices of Oz. While you may or may not agree with the path some followers of Anonymous (called Anons) have taken, you can't deny that anonymity is an important aspect of your life. If you have a lock on your house, car, smartphone, or tablet, you understand the need for the personal privacy of your belongings and information in the physical realm. The digital equivalent of this is the black curtain of Anonymous.
The masks may seem silly to you. If you're comfortable using your real name and face online, more power to you. Not every citizen has to serve in the military to understand the importance of their presence though. You don't wear a mask in the physical world, so there's no need to wear one in the digital world. You also don't walk around with the contents of your purse, wallet, and smartphone printed on your clothes or tattooed on your face. Without anonymity, you're doing exactly that online.
Anonymous seems scary to some of you because it's unknown.
For that I'm going to teach you a few secrets of anonymity so you can see how easy it is to become Anonymous.
1) Create a Private Network Like a CEO or Government
There's a lot of ways to do this, but my personal favorite is downloading and installing Hamachi and Privoxy. Hamachi creates a private network in your home that you can access over any wifi connection. No matter where you are, you're browsing from the security of your own home. Privoxy teachers your web browser to connect through your Hamachi server. When both of these programs are utilized together, you can always stay connected to home. If you're not comfortable installing the software, Lifehacker has a fantastic guide.
2) Send Secure Emails With PGP/GPG Encryption
The first thing you need to do for secure email is get away from Hotmail and Yahoo. Thus far I'm using gmail, but you never know what'll happen in the future. That aside, download the free Thunderbird email application. It's an alternate Outlook or Lotus Notes made by Mozilla (the people that make Firefox). This application allows you to utilize the same military grade uncrackable email encryption used by Governments and Corporations worldwide: GPG/PGP. Check out Lifehacker's guide for the rest of the installation instructions.
3) Browse (Somewhat) Anonymously
Depending on your browser or device, this is a bit difficult. Lifehacker has a great guide on simple tricks and add-ons you can enable to lock your doors and windows online.
4) What You Download Is Your Business
Download Bittorrent. Then download PeerBlock. These programs will allow you to download as safely and securely as possible. Simply run PeerBlock and allow it to update the list of advertisers, etc that may try to track you. Then search online for whatever you want to download. The easiest way is to search "(File I'm Looking For) Torrent" with any search tool. When you download the torrent, it automatically opens in Bittorrent and downloads the file you're looking for. This works for anything you want.
If you take 2 hours out of your day to set these things up, you'll be well on your way to online anonymity. When you understand how important it is for you to stay as safe and secure online as you are in real life, you'll understand why Anonymous is Anonymous. It's not a bunch of kids and criminals. Anonymous is nothing more than a symbol to unite under; a symbol of freedom for everyone...
Brian Penny is a former business analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower who spent the last 2 years helping regulators and attorneys uncover the largest bank and insurance fraud in history. He documents his experiences working with Anonymous and fighting the banks on his blog . He's currently in the Tampa Bay area preparing to live in a van and training to be a yogi under Ally Ford .