What is anonymous hosting?
We explain what anonymous hosting is, when you should use it, and how to select a reliable service
Every time you build a new website with one of the best website builders, or sign up to one of the best web hosting services, information about things like your domain name registrar and hosting provider are made publicly available. In many cases, resourceful (and sometimes malicious) third parties can access this and a range of more personal data, which can cause privacy and security issues.
Fortunately, the best anonymous hosting solutions are designed to help you protect your privacy. As long as you use a reliable anonymous hosting service, you shouldn’t have to provide any personal or identifying information. Sign up with a pseudonym and/or email address, and pay with an anonymous payment method, to really reduce the risk of any privacy breaches.
In this article, we dive deeper into the world of anonymous hosting, outlining everything you need to know about it and when you should use it.
What is anonymous hosting?
On the most basic level, anonymous hosting services don’t require you to register with your real name or postal address. They also don’t require you to provide potentially identifying payment information, instead offering private and often untraceable payment methods such as cryptocurrencies.
Unlike private web hosting, which simply hides your personal information from DNS listings, anonymous hosting guarantees absolute anonymity by not requiring you to enter such information in the first place.
Your average web hosting provider can only offer a certain level of privacy. Usually, you will still be required to enter potentially identifying information, such as your email address, when registering a new account.
And unless anonymous payment methods are offered, you will also need to disclose your credit or debit card information when making payments through a service like PayPal. They may promise to hide your information from public listings, but they will still disclose it to a few select third parties.
What’s worse, if you’re a journalist or nonprofit working on politically sensitive content, government agencies can compel your web host to reveal your private data in various countries, depending on local, national, and international legislation.
Because of these and various other factors, the only way to truly guarantee your privacy is to not enter any sensitive information at all, which is why anonymous web hosting is such an attractive option for many people.
Why use anonymous hosting?
There are numerous reasons why you should consider using anonymous hosting, including the pure fact that you might not like your personal and/or identifying information to be in the public domain.
Anyone can tell who owns a certain website by simply looking at the WHOIS domain registration records. On top of this, major data leaks, such as the one that happened to Hostinger in 2019, can even reveal more sensitive information such as passwords or credit card details.
Now, let’s say that you’re hosting a website with sensitive or personal content. You might not want your name or identity linked to such a site, particularly if there’s a risk of harm to you or your family.
One example of this would be if you’re a journalist reporting on volatile political situations. By using anonymous hosting, you can significantly reduce the risk of things like harassment and other issues.
What is anonymous offshore hosting?
If you live in a country that doesn’t have any strong privacy laws, you may want to consider using an offshore anonymous hosting service for additional security. Essentially, this means hosting your website on a server located in a different country to the one in which you are based.
However, simply offshoring your web hosting service isn’t usually enough. You should also look into one of the best web hosting services that’s completely anonymous, and based in a country with strong privacy laws, such as the Netherlands or Germany.
The best anonymous offshore hosting services don’t require you to enter personally identifiable information, use discreet payment methods, and are based in countries with strong privacy legislation. Good examples of truly anonymous hosting providers include companies such as Koddos and Shinjiru.
What is the DMCA, and how does it relate to anonymous hosting?
Enacted in 1998, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, is a piece of legislation that’s currently in place in the U.S. Originally created to prevent online piracy, the law makes it possible for companies and individuals to file for copyright infringement, and have their content taken down from websites that use it without permission.
Whenever a content creator sees their intellectual property hosted on a website, they can file a DMCA Removal Request. This is a claim that—if granted by the courts—will require the host website to immediately remove such copyrighted material. As the DMCA is only applicable in the United States, however, any web hosting provider with servers located outside this country is exempt from this law.
How do I make my website completely anonymous?
There are a few important steps you need to take to ensure complete anonymity when starting a new website. For starters, make sure that you use a hosting service that prioritises privacy. One key factor to look for is anonymous sign-up. As soon as you have to provide any personal details or verify your identity, there’s a risk of your privacy being compromised.
In addition, you need to make sure that you use some form of anonymous payment method. If you use your credit or debit card, there’s always the risk of this information being leaked, stolen, or accessed by law enforcement agencies.
Cryptocurrency payments have become the favored anonymous payment method for many. However, it’s not quite as simple as just paying with Bitcoin. Unless you follow certain steps, cryptocurrency payments can be just as traceable as using your credit card or paying through PayPal.
What to think about when choosing an anonymous hosting service
When choosing an anonymous hosting solution, there are a few important things to consider to ensure you’re actually getting the service you expect. We’ve outlined some of the most important below.
Domain privacy is something that many people overlook when attempting to create an anonymous website. If possible, use a host that offers anonymous domain registration. Domain privacy is also important, or else your details will be available to anyone who completes a simple WHOIS domain information search. If you need more information, learn why you should invest in domain privacy.
Another important consideration is the amount of personal and potentially identifying information you need to provide to create your hosting account. To remain truly anonymous, ensure you never enter your real name, address, phone number, or anything else that could be traced back to you.
We’ve already touched on this, but anonymous payment methods are essential if you wish to remain unidentifiable. Cryptocurrencies are one of the best modern anonymous payment methods, but ensure you’re following best practices so that your transactions remain untraceable.
Further reading on web hosting and website builders
Check out our guide to managed vs unmanaged hosting to find out which is best suited to your needs, and discover the best VPS hosting or best cloud hosting services. If you're looking to create a new website, make sure you look over the best website builders before making your choice.
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