You are being watched online, and it’s not just the NSA. All those products you visited on Amazon that show up in your Facebook feed- those are “remarketing” campaigns- built from tracking your browsing.
Emails you open from a retailer include tracking codes- so when you visit the site, they know who you are- and then customize the site to sell you more.
Or- want to scope out the competition? Why let them know you’ve been looking?
The easiest way to use Tor is to download the Tor Browser. This is a modified version of Firefox along with a bunch of other software that connects you to the Tor network.
Once you’ve downloaded the installer, you have two options: You can just install the software or you can check the installation file’s GPG signature first. Some people like to check the installation file to make sure they’ve downloaded the proper version of the browser and not something that’s been tampered with.
But checking the GPG signature is not a painless process and requires an additional software download. Nevertheless, if that’s something you’d like to do, the Tor Project has a how-to explaining what’s required.
There are also sites that allow you to do a one off anonymous cloak- like http://www.covertbrowsing.com/ go there, and browse away.
The other end of things is to use a private VPN network that unlinks you from your ISP’s IP. Most of these are services that you pay for- where you “tunnel” all your internet traffic to their servers that become your “home base” IP. Some have cute names, like www.hidemyass.com but, sometimes, that’s not really what they do: read this post: What everybody should know about HideMyAss
People use VPN in order to access content that’s not available on their continent- like Chinese nationals looking for information on democracy- or for American Football fan ex-pats who want to stream NFL games to Europe. Its traditional use is to be a secure way of connecting to their work from remote locations.
But, in the end, remember anything you do online is never private, no matter how careful you are.