How VPN s can protect you
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network.
- Virtual because you’re not creating a new physical connecting with your destination — your data is just traveling through existing wires between you and your destination.
- Private because it encrypts your activity before sending it, then decrypts it at the destination.
Countries like China block certain websites, and people have traditionally used VPNs as a way to get around those firewalls. But VPNs are extremely useful for privacy, too.
There are several types of VPN options, with varying degrees of convenience and security.
Experts estimate that as many as 90% of VPNs are “hopelessly insecure” and this changes from time to time. So even if you use the tools I recommend here, I recommend you take the time to do your homework.
Browser-based VPN s
Most VPNs are services that cost money. But the first VPN option I’m going to tell you about is convenient and completely free.
Opera is a popular web browser that comes with some excellent privacy features. A free built-in VPN and a free ad blocker (ads can spy on you) are just some of these features.
To browse the web without ISPs easily snooping on you and selling your data, Opera is a great start. Let’s install and configure it real quick. This takes less than 5 minutes.
Take note that this will only anonymize the things you do within the Opera browser. Also, I’m obligated to point out that even though Opera’s parent company is European, it was recently purchased by a consortium of Chinese tech companies, and there is a non-zero risk that it could be compromised by the Chinese government.
Having said that, here’s how to browse securely with Opera.
Steps to setup your FREE Personal VPN
2: Turn on its ad blocker
3: Turn on its VPN
4: Install HTTPS Everywhere
Opera should look like this:
Presto! You can browse the web with confidence that anyone won’t know who you are or what you’re doing.
You can even set your VPN to a different country. Here, I’ve set mine to Singapore so websites will think I’m in Singapore. To test this out, I visited ipleak.net and they did indeed think I was in Singapore.
Since the internet is complex, and data passes through hundreds of providers through a system of peering and trading traffic, US-based ISPs shouldn’t be able to monitor my traffic when it emerges from Singapore.
If you want to take things next level, you can try Tor, which is extremely private, and extremely hard to de-anonymize (though it can be done, as depicted in the TV show Mr. Robot — though it would require incredible resources).
Tor’s a bit more work to set up and use, and is slower than using a VPN.
Privacy is hard. But it’s worth it.
Privacy is a fundamental human right, and has been declared so by the United Nations.
Still, many people believe we live in a “post-privacy” era. For example, Mark Zuckerberg claims privacy isn’t that important any more. But look at his actions. He paid $30 million to buy the 4 houses adjacent to his Palo Alto home so he could have more privacy.
All the data breaches have left people jaded and shell-shocked to believe that privacy is worth the fight.
But most people who say they don’t care about their own privacy anymore just haven’t really given it much thought.
“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide; is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” — Edward Snowden
We need stronger privacy protections enshrined in the law. We’ll just have to look out for ourselves, and educate other people to do the same.
If you’re ready to secure your website, or need assistance in setting up an Enterprise VPN, then contact us today, and we can get you up and running, safely, secure, and on your way!