Maybe a broad question, but how can you keep a visitor to your site 100% anonymous on your server. The site is written in PHP.

No trace of what he or she has visited on your site. Any suggestions?

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    @Grumpy: maybe I am wrong, but so long as s/he doesn't sign up/in, then s/he is anonymous to your site, right? – Michael Mao Dec 19 '10 at 23:21
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    Which server software are you using? @Michael Mao the server software might log ip addresses. – Mark Dec 19 '10 at 23:21
  • @Mark : yeah, logging ip address might expose of some information, but I think it doesn't reveal personal info to the server. Say, I can happily use my uni library computer to access one site, and then just go away... – Michael Mao Dec 19 '10 at 23:24
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    This is a perfectly fine question, I don't understand why it gets downvoted. @Michael yes, but that is far from 100% anonymity. There are valid use cases for this – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Dec 19 '10 at 23:26

One main thing is going to be disable or limit access logging. You would have to configure your Web server not to log any user's IP addresses.

Also ensure access is not logged elsewhere in the system or the data center, no external applicances like reverse proxies are active, and so on.

Also as @JonahBron points out, don't use sessions. Best don't serve any cookies at all.

Encourage your users to use additional anonymization services on client side, like TOR.

Related interesting reading: Wikileaks' Hosting


Disable your server logs, don't use sessions.

  • If you want to provide anonymity, just purge your logs every so often (e.g. once a week) and make sure no one but you has access to the logs. Disabling your server logs completely is a bad idea. – Lèse majesté Dec 19 '10 at 23:49
  • Agree. You could drop the logs with cron on a 24 hour period, but you may want them around in the near term if you have any issues you need to debug. – digit1001 Dec 28 '10 at 22:01

If you are concerned that your application's visitor data may fall into the wrong hands, you should never collect any data an attacker could use against your visitors: this means your application should not be publicly available, because an attacker who gains access to your server or the network your server hosts on will always be able to monitor incoming and outgoing connections.

Make your application available only via TOR hidden service if you care about your visitors' privacy.

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