Solarquest

Level 32
Verified
Staff member
Malware Hunter
The idea that the government collects data on everything you do online is no longer stuff of dystopian fiction. When we consider the Vault 7 revelations, Edward Snowden’s ongoing leak of NSA documents and privacy changes that allow Internet Service Providers to sell the data of their users, we can no longer plead ignorance when it comes to our privacy. Everything you do online is available to anyone with the will and means to access it. Whether it’s cyber criminals or your own government.

Yet there are ways to protect your activity online without disconnecting entirely.

A Virtual Private Network, or VPN for short, creates private tunnels for your online activity to pass through. Cost-effective and easy to setup, taking control of your privacy can be as simple as a software download.

Stick around as we will explore why a VPN can be an important tool to protect your privacy and show the easiest way to set it up.

What is a VPN?
To explain this it may be simpler to first explain how a computer transmits data between itself and a website. Usually, traffic between a computer and a website involves the transfer of packets. A little like mail in real life, these packets transfer information from the sender (your computer) to the recipient (the website you are trying to reach) and vice versa.

The problem with these unsecured packets is that they can be intercepted (be it via WiFi, mobile radio signals or your router), exposing your traffic which contains information on which websites you were visiting and what you were doing there. This is known as a man-in-the middle attack and is a big reason why public wifi is so risky.

When you sit down for a coffee and connect to public WiFi, you are vulnerable to having your traffic sniffed. This is where a VPN comes in handy. Connecting to a VPN is like having a loud, private conversation with a friend in that same cafe, but in a language only known to the two of you.

The role of a VPN, therefore, is to mask traffic in such a way that even if it is intercepted, it cannot be read.

Why you need a VPN
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Winter Soldier

Level 25
Please don’t use a free VPN service. Really. If your VPN service is not making money from your subscription fees then it is making it elsewhere, like selling your personal information to a third-party who can spam you senseless.
This confirms what I always think and the risk is that the VPN becomes "your personal tunnel to hell".
 

conceptualclarity

Level 21
Verified
Trusted
Content Creator
I once was on a username social networking site called the Experience Project, now a frozen archive. They were very insistent on only one account per user, and they kicked a fair number of people off the site, so they didn't allow VPNs. Is websites forbidding registered users to deploy VPNs while visiting very common--aside from obvious stuff like Netflix?
 
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