Data Privacy From Your Government
While many ISPs, apps and internet data hubs suggest they dont sell your browsing data to governments, the information nonetheless finds its ways into their handseven in the U.S.
Since 2013, when Edward Snowden first revealed that Verizon had been selling users internet and phone data to the NSA, Americans have become more aware of the different ways the government surveils and collects their data. Following the Snowden leaks, and subsequent outrage, several laws were enacted to curb government surveillance.
However, as recently as January of this year, the Defense Intelligence Agency bypassed a law demanding that government agencies produce warrants before compelling phone companies for their user data by paying third-party data brokers for that same data, according to the New York Times.
If you have qualms about governmental overreach, a VPN is a good investment in protecting your data.
How Secure Is A VPN Really
Like with any online software or service, the security of a VPN will be reliant on a number of factors. In the case of VPNs, these factors include:
- The kind of technology the provider uses
- The laws of your jurisdiction
Lets start by taking a look at the different kinds of VPN protocols available right now.
When Might A Free VPN Not Be A Good Choice
A free VPN is likely to come up short for those looking to stream or torrent, or people looking for a gaming VPN. That’s because these activities use up tons of data. If you’ve got unlimited data with your VPN, that’s not an issue, but if you’ve only got 500MB to play with, that’s only about one episode in standard def on Netflix and that’s only if you can actually access the service.
Also, you might find that your connection speeds drop, and for gamers and torrenters that’s a killer. Those activities rely on having high speeds, and only the best paid-for fast VPN services can provide that.
Finally, some free VPNs struggle with privacy issues, and the addition of ads can be a real pain for users. If you want the most secure service, you’ll have to pay for one at least then you’ll know exactly how your VPN is making money, rather than hoping it’s not using your info to cash in.
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Disadvantages Of Setting Up Your Own VPN Server
The vast majority of people should not set up their own VPN server at home. The odds are that youll be better off using a trusted, safe VPN service, like ExpressVPN.
If your internet connection suffers from slow upload bandwidth, creating your own VPN server isnt worth the effort itll just slow down your service even more, including downloads.
Self-built VPN servers also require meticulous setup and technical know-how to make sure that they arent vulnerable to security flaws.
Whats more, a home-based VPN is not an online privacy tool at least, not totally.
Since it only encrypts internet traffic between the VPN client and the VPN server , your ISP and any third party that has access to the data your ISP collects is still able to see everything you do online.
In contrast, top-tier VPN services will protect your online privacy, and will automatically keep up to date with the latest security patches.
The best VPNs dont collect any of your personal information.
VPN providers often have VPN servers in dozens of locations globally, unlike a home VPN which only assigns you the IP address of your home network.
With a commercial VPN service you can connect to servers all over the world in order to access geo-restricted content.
Using ready-made VPN servers allow you to stream, torrent, and browse in privacy, with effortless setup.
Using a third-party VPN service will most likely give you better speeds than a self-made server too.
What Does A VPN Do For You
Most people will probably agree that the basic tenets of a VPN are a good thing. Here at Namecheap, we think that internet privacy is more than just a good thing its vital to the success of the online world. That said, many people delay getting a VPN, considering it inessential or, worse, unnecessary. They shouldnt.
A good way of illustrating the necessity of a VPN is to show just how exposed you are when your internet connection is not encrypted.
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Remote Desktop Connection Over A VPN
Example: A software company that develops educational learning software runs on computers using the Windows operating system. They sell to public libraries and schools, and online directly to customers.
The company is entrenched in Microsoft technologies. They use Windows Networking, Windows Domains, and Windows Active Directory to authenticate users and provide access to resources allowed in their Windows domains.The company wants to extend the same environment to their employees regardless of whether they are working at the office, or somewhere else entirely.
The company chose to provide Microsoft remote desktop access to office workstations for their employees, and use Access Server to provide strong security and VPN access to the office network.
Access Server was installed in the office network, and authentication was set up using LDAP to Windows Active Directory. Use of the Active Directory meant that the employee could use the same credentials that they use to log in to their Windows remote access desktop to log in to the VPN.Group access controls were set up in the Access Server corresponding to the Active Directory Groups so that the employees had access to the same services as they would if they were at the office.
Common Reasons For Using A VPN
People use VPNs for countless reasons. Some of these reasons are specific, while some people just have a VPN as another layer of security in addition to a good antivirus program and practicing generally sensible internet usage.
- As previously mentioned, a common reason to use a VPN is to prevent anyone from ISPs to public Wi-Fi hotspots– from tracking what youre doing online.
- Another reason many like to use a VPN is to gain access to region-restricted content, whether that be a TV show on your countrys Netflix, or to get around a certain jurisdictions internet censorship laws.
Ultimately, why people use a VPN is to have greater anonymity online. In a day and age where revelations of public data being used in shady ways have become a daily occurrence, keeping private information private is more vital than ever.
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How Does VPN Work
Let’s start with the basic idea of internet communication. Suppose you’re at your desk and you want to access a website like ZDNet. To do this, your computer initiates a request by sending some packets. If you’re in an office, those packets often travel through switches and routers on your LAN before they are transferred to the public internet through a router.
Once on the public internet, those packets travel through a bunch of computers. A separate request is made to a series of name servers to translate the DNS name ZDNet.com to an IP address. That information is sent back to your browser, which then sends the request again through many computers on the public internet. Eventually, it reaches the ZDNet infrastructure, which also routes those packets, grabs a web page , and sends all that back to you.
Each internet request usually results in a whole series of communication events between multiple points. The way a VPN works is by encrypting those packets at the originating point, often hiding the data and the information about your originating IP address. The VPN software on your end then sends those packets to the VPN server at some destination point, decrypting that information.
One of the most important issues in understanding the limits of VPNs is understanding where the endpoint of the VPN server resides. We’ll talk about that next.
Can I Also Use A VPN On My Smartphone Or Other Devices
Yes, there are a number of VPN options for smartphones and other internet-connected devices. A VPN can be essential for your mobile device if you use it to store payment information or other personal data or even just to surf the internet. Many VPN providers also offer mobile solutions – many of which can be downloaded directly from Google Play or the Apple App Store, such as Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection.
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Can I Use A VPN To Spoof My Location Or Country Of Origin
Because the VPN server you’re connected to presents its IP address to whatever web application you’re using, by choosing a server located in a different country, you can represent your connection as if you’re in a different country. This may be illegal in certain regions, so use caution when doing this.
In my testing, some VPN providers could successfully hide their originating country or the fact that they were VPNs, but others were not. You’ll probably want to do some testing. Of the services where I did in-depth testing, NordVPN and Hotspot Shield could successfully hide their VPN origins, while StrongVPN and CyberGhost were not.
Will A VPN Service Help Me Connect Securely To My Office Network
If you’re trying to connect to your on-premises corporate network, you’ll most likely be assigned a VPN application by your IT department. This will allow you to establish a point-to-point connection between your local device and a server owned and operated by your company.
But, if your company is cloud-based, and you’re connecting to SaaS applications like Salesforce or Google, you should probably use a VPN service since you’re not actually connecting to your company but instead to a public cloud application.
If your IT department does not specifically identify a VPN service you should use for accessing their public cloud applications, definitely look at our VPN directory and choose one of the higher-rated service providers.
Creating The Hosted Network
Here comes the bit where you actually create the hosted network. Type the following:
netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=Choose One key=Choose One
Where I have written choose one, you need to replace the text with your own choice. The SSID is the name of the network youll see on other devices. The passphrase is the password youll need to enter when connecting to another device.
This is what it should look like:
Can A VPN Guarantee My Privacy
Oh, heck no. A VPN can help ensure you’re not snooped on when connecting between your computer and a website. But the website itself is quite capable of some serious privacy violations. For example, a VPN can’t protect you against a website setting a tracking cookie that will tell other websites about you. A VPN can’t protect you against a website recording information about products you’re interested in. A VPN can’t protect you against a website that sells your email address to list brokers. Yada, yada, yada.
A VPN does help protect you in the situations we’ve discussed in previous sections. But don’t expect a VPN to be a magical privacy shield that will keep everything you do private and confidential. There are many, many ways your privacy can be compromised, and a VPN will be of only partial help.
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Find A VPN Via The Applications Folder
First, we recommend checking the Applications folder, where youll find a VPN if it has been downloaded from the Web or the macOS App Store. Do the following.
What Are The Two Main Types Of VPNs
Most of us are familiar with the concept of a LAN, a local area network. That’s the private network inside one physical location — be it a home, a corporate building, or a campus. But many businesses don’t run out of one location. They have branch offices, departments, and divisions that are geographically dispersed.
In many cases, each of these offices also has LANs. But how do the LANs connect? For some very specialized solutions, companies lease private lines to connect the offices. That can be very expensive. Instead, most companies opt to connect separated private LANs over the public internet geographically. To protect their data, they set up VPNs between offices, encrypting the data as it traverses the public internet.
This is a corporate or enterprise VPN, and it’s characterized by the same organization controlling both endpoints of the VPN. If your company controls the originating point and the endpoint , you can be quite well assured that your data is securely transmitted.
The second type of VPN is a consumer VPN. This is for those of you who compute in hotels or at coffee shops and connect to web applications like social networks, email, banks, or shopping sites. Consumer VPN services help ensure that those communications are protected.
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How To Choose The Right VPN
Which VPN to choose depends on the needs of the user. When choosing a VPN, there are some simple questions to ask:
- How many devices will connect to the VPN? Most VPNs have device caps, so be sure the service can include all the devices within your network comfortably.
- How much will the VPN impact internet speed? All VPNs slow down internet speeds to varying degrees because instead of going directly to the router, data moves through an encrypted tunnel. Look at what our VPN comparison says about slowdowns with different VPN services to get a better idea.
- Do you need a VPN with torrent capability? If so, make sure the VPN service allows torrenting.
- Where is the VPN service located? Depending on where the VPN service has their headquarters, they will have to obey certain data retention laws. Before signing up for a service, check what user data they have to provide their host government. Through communications and data sharing alliances, your user data might be shared with your own governments intelligence agencies, if part of the same alliance. The biggest alliances among western countries are called Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Fourteen Eyes.
- Five Eyes: U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Canada
- Nine Eyes: Five Eyes nations and France, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark
- Fourteen Eyes: Nine Eyes nations and Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Sweden
Note:Free VPN trials are a great way to learn about what to expect from different services.
Install VPN On Computer
If you want to install a VPN on your computer, the first thing you’ll have to do is choose the service of your preference, go to their website where you’ll probably be asked to create an account with a username and password . Then download the software, which may be in the form of a program or an extension to fit your browser.
Log in with your username and password if you are asked to do so and then choose the country or city from which you want the server to connect and that’s it! From then on, Netflix will consider that you are connected from your new fictitious location and you will have access to a whole new catalogue of content.
You should note that if you install an extension on Google Chrome, for example, the VPN will only work if you open Netflix with Chrome. However if you install VPN software on your computer, it will be applied to all your browsers.
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How Does A Free VPN Work
Free VPN services encrypt your data while it’s in transit, creating a virtual tunnel through the internet. This separates your data packets from the countless others around them until they reach the services exit nodes many miles away from where you are.
Not only is the data encrypted, as it would be during a normal secure web session, but the routing information about the sender and intended recipient is hidden as well.
Today, the most popular VPN protocols are OpenVPN and various implementations of Internet Protocol Security , which include IPsec by itself or in combination with Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol or Internet Key Exchange versions 1 and 2 .
A VPN’s scrambling and unscrambling of your data can sometimes slow internet traffic to a crawl. The best free VPN will have fast servers connected to huge data pipes to minimize this performance decline. They also have thousands of servers located in scores of countries, ranging from Albania to Zimbabwe.
What Is VPN How It Works Types Of VPN
VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network” and describes the opportunity to establish a protected network connection when using public networks. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic and disguise your online identity. This makes it more difficult for third parties to track your activities online and steal data. The encryption takes place in real time.
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What Do All Those Protocol Names Mean And Which One Should I Choose
If you’ve been shopping for a VPN service, you’ve undoubtedly come across a bunch of names like SSL, OpenVPN, SSTP, L2TP/IPSec, PPP, PPTP, IKEv2/IPSec, SOCKS5, and more. These are all communication protocols. They are, essentially, the name of the method by which your communication is encrypted and packaged for tunneling to the VPN provider.
There is a lot of debate among security purists about which VPN protocol is better. Some protocols are old and compromised. Others, like SSTP, are proprietary to one company or another.
My recommendation — and the protocol I most often choose to use — is OpenVPN. OpenVPN is a non-proprietary, open-source implementation of a VPN communication layer protocol. It’s well-understood, well-regarded, generally quite secure, and robust. Also, it has the benefit of communicating over port 443, which is the standard port for https communication, which means almost all firewalls will allow OpenVPN traffic — and most won’t even be able to detect that a VPN is being used.
Yes, there are certainly other protocol choices, even some that might be more appropriate than OpenVPN in certain situations. But if that’s the case, either you’ve already made that decision, or your IT organization has specified a specific protocol you should use. However, as a default, if you’re not sure what to look for, look for OpenVPN.