Going ‘off the grid’ is something which most people think of at least once in their lives, made popular in TV and movies throughout the years. The idea is simple; having no record of yourself, past, present, or future. This isn’t the same as keeping your online activity private, but is the total lack of information about a person; the truest form of cybersecurity.
Almost everyone in a developed country has a record of them in one way or another, be it from birth certificates, cctv, or social media. The few who don’t are usually those in uncontacted nations such as island or tribe communities. Unfortunately, if a person is born in a country with records as standard, going off the grid will be much more difficult than otherwise.
Anyone wishing to go off the grid needs to have a very good reason to do so, as it’s not only hard to go back, but also a very lengthy and labour intensive process. This is not something to do on a whim, it is more like a permanent lifestyle change which will affect every aspect of a persons life.
To go off the grid, it’s important to find out which records need to be destroyed or de-indexed. It’s easiest to start early in life, and move forward over time so that it’s easier to keep track. Birth certificates, school records, graduation, any news that may involve your name, and even council tax records need to be expunged to go ‘offline’. This will be much easier to do in May of next year, when GDPR comes into full effect; the right to erasure can be employed where needed. It’s almost impossible to stop a government from finding records of your person, as they have records which cannot be expunged through ‘white hat’ methods, but it should be possible to stop an individual or company from finding the records. It is definitely possible to have basic records removed from the public view, but unfortunately without highly illegal activity, these records will still exist somewhere.
Social media is one of the easiest to remove records from, usually by utilizing 4 methods. Firstly, changing your name on social media means that any past links to your profile will become unsearchable. After this, changing your extension (eg. facebook.com/yourname) means that any links will be ‘dead links’ or ‘profile not found’. Only after these two steps have been done should you contact the relevant social media department, and then you can make a written request to have information purged. The ‘white hat’ way of doing this is by just making a request to have all mentions and links purged, while the ‘grey hat’ method is to give a reason such as potential stalking, or fear of danger to self. Once this has occurred (this can take a few weeks) you can fully deactivate the account.
It’s advised to have a long sit down and try to remember any usernames or email addresses used throughout life; using a directory lookup or domain checker can help with this. Deactivate any account owned, and put in a right to erasure request for any data held on your person.
Unfortunately, if you have any kind of criminal record, this process is nearly impossible; law enforcement needs to keep records for future reference.
Once all online and paper records have been purged or de-indexed about a person, the only next step someone can take is to move country. Usually to somewhere with poor foreign relations to the home country, but most places will do if you’re not fleeing the law.
It is almost impossible to go off the grid legally, but it is very possible to leave an old life behind and start a new one somewhere else. Just remember, any thread can be followed, and even the smallest clue can give a person away. This is not advised in almost all cases, but it is possible.