VPN: Virtual Private Network and Internet Privacy

by Daniel Brouse and Sidd Mukherjee

Your Internet service provider (ISP) knows where you live, your address and billing info. They also know:

  • all the IPs and domain names you visit and when
  • all the content of your unencrypted traffic in and out, as well as, the timing

The federal government now allows your ISP to sell the information.

VPN: Virtual Private Network
VPN stands for virtual private network. A VPN builds an encrypted connection from your computer to your VPN provider and routes all your traffic through it. All your traffic now appears on the net through the IP of your VPN provider.

If you use a VPN, the only thing others can see is you making an encrypted connection to one IP that relays your traffic. If that IP is at the same location as you, you are still subject to a geolocation threat.

In addition to using a VPN, the following is recommended:

TURN OFF Cookies And Java
The easiest way to start protecting your privacy is turning off cookies and java in your browser. Cookies allow remote servers access to your internet activities. Your browser history is also subject to privacy violations. Only allow access to your cookies and browser history when you are confident of the websites you visit. If a site forces you to use cookies, clear your cookies and browser history after each visit.

Java and Java script allow remote servers to run programs on your computer. Java script is how most malware is downloaded onto your computer. Avoid Java at all costs.

AdBlock – Chrome
Advertisement blocking software can be added to most web browsers. AdBlock for Google’s Chrome is one of the highest rated. Google says, “AdBlock. The #1 ad blocker with over 200 million downloads. Blocks YouTube, Facebook and ads everywhere else on the web. The original AdBlock for Chrome works automatically. Choose to continue seeing unobtrusive ads, whitelist your favorite sites, or block all ads by default. Just click “Add to Chrome,” then visit your favorite website and see the ads disappear!”

IP Anonymizer
Protecting the privacy of your unique IP is the most important aspect of protecting your privacy. It is also fairly difficult. A VPN does not conceal your IP on the Internet.

The easiest and cheapest way to conceal your identity is with an IP Anonymizer. “This anonymizer will hide your IP address from the websites you access as well as protect you from tracking with cookies and other means.”

You can go to a site, such as, http://webanonymizer.org/ and enter the website you want to visit. WebAnonymizer will automatically mask your IP for free.

A Tor browser is free software for enabling anonymous communication. The Tor name is an acronym for the original software project name “The Onion Router”. Tor routes Internet traffic through a free, worldwide, volunteer network of more than seven thousand relays. A users location and usage is concealed from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis. Tor makes it very difficult for Internet activity to be traced including “visits to Web sites, online posts, instant messages, and other communication forms”.

The Tor project states, “The Tor software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked. Tor Browser lets you use Tor on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux without needing to install any software. It can run off a USB flash drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained (portable).”

Download the Tor browser (free)

A reader asked: So is there still a place for a VPN on our mobile devices? When using public wifi for example?
A: Yes. Almost all public wifi’s are a private network. You just have to worry about the other people who are on the private network with you. A device on the private network is easily hacked by someone in close proximity (e.g. hackers can use a Pringles can as an antenna and gain access within several hundred yards http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/extend-your-wifi-range-using-diy-antenna-from-pringles-can.html)

From The Membrane Domain’s Cybersecurity Center

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