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Windows 7: Are Virtual Private Networks Helpful?

2 Weeks Ago   #11

Windows 10 64bit

A VPN is a network a computer can connect through to connect to the internet. During this process if you can imagine now you have been given a cloak to wear that hides where you came from. If you came from an IP address like 123.34.567.89 now you have connected through a network of computers and taken on the IP address of the computer that has connected you to wherever you are going on the internet. Let's say this computers IP address is 987.654.32.1. This address is what every website and service you use will think is your IP address, which is pretty much your address on the internet given to you by your internet service provider. Now you're cloaked behind this IP address your real IP is hidden. This is pretty good when the internet can become a place where information can get into anyones hands and where it then can be linked back to you ad infinitum. There has been a lot of genuine and controversial news over the last few years that highlights the need for a much more private and secure internet. Privacy and security are different subjects but either way the truth is there is so much information on the internet and so much potential for that information/data to be abused, manipulated, leveraged for profit, stolen, destroyed etc that recently there has been a major surge in bringing products into the mainstream that allow for increased privacy and security to become more prevalant in everyday life. Privacy is a real subject and over the last decade and more there has been little discussion over it and yet the stranglehold on your personal data has become much more tighter. The aim now, at least for those defending these rights, is to reduce that stranglehold by promoting technologies that aim to give back more freedom to the end user (me and you). I guess you could say we've entered into a new era where we are seeing the impact of having such an interconnected world is having on our lives, most of the time when we don't even realize it.

Browsers are now incorporating DNS-over-HTTPS and DNT (Do not Track) as well as tracking protections that work to disable features on web services that aim to take as much information about you, your computer, your intentions, your personal life and anything else and use it to make profits, share with other third party companies, devise models and elaborate systems that harvest information from you. Social media platforms are a big example of data hoarders who use this data to make vast amounts of profit from each and every user. This seems innocuous and fair until you see that that data is often abused, mishandled and then turned around to manipulate their very own users. Facebook does this on a daily basis with the constant stream of data they receive from millions and millions of active users. Using a VPN in this instance wouldn't do much because you're throwing away your cloak by then telling Facebook everything about you. But I'm sure you see my point. A VPN is just one tool in the arsenal of someone who is trying to be more responsible while using the internet and limiting their footprint.

Things like VPN have become more present in our online world because there is a need for it. The place for VPN is that of cloaking the originating address you come from. Just like containers in a browser isolate each session you have so that data does not become contaminated with other data from other sessions (and therefore a profile can be built on you) and just like antivirus helps to protect you from nasty stuff that can infect your PC there is a purpose for these things. They aim to fill a void where otherwise it would be quite a dark place. Just like airbags reduced the death rates in cars as soon as they came out, VPNs help to reduce the amount of data that is intercepted by those you may want to share your data with. Do airbags work 100%? No. Does a VPN make you invincible on the internet? No. But does it serve a purpose? Yes.

There is some genuine debate in this thread that if you were really interested in following you could do some research and within a week you'd have a bigger picture as to why VPNs are so popular but also why they can also be a concern when like other entities that want your data for profit there inevitably will be VPN providers who also want your data for profit, and so are you really protected? VPN is big business and it's evidently making A LOT of money for those offering these services. And so the incentive to make money often comes with ethical implications and now we are talking about the dark area of the internet all of this topic surrounds. How do you know you haven't just bought a leaky bucket while being told it's watertight? How do you know your data is encrypted? How do you know VPN providers don't keep logs? How do you know it's not a sham fraud of a computer collecting vast amounts of data on users while providing a second rate service that pretends to protect them? Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? How do you know your information is safe? How do you know your information is safe anyway? What websites do you trust? How much information do you share on the internet? Why? When? How? Through what mediums?

These are all legitimate questions. And it's the major talking point right now with the state of the internet and the online world as it is. We know a lot more about the good, the bad and the ugly thanks to the progress in sharing this information over the years. And now we are slowly starting to see this materialising in the presence of features like VPN and more tightly knit browsers and software that at their core aim to keep your data safe and only agree to share it with entities you are made aware of in the terms of service and privacy policy, if you choose to read it that is.

You shouldn't just blindly walk into using a VPN. And you should question ALL VPN providers. Look at their transparency reports. Look at their privacy policies. Look to see if they have been audited for security, data protection and legal regulations. And of course we could talk about different subjects intertwined with the subject on VPNs. It goes pretty deep. But I hope this suffices to explain things as best as possible!

Oh, and it's my first post! Hello all :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
2 Weeks Ago   #12
F22 Simpilot

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

I have always been of the opinion that if you want the utmost in security/privacy you roll your own. In my case if I want the very best security/privacy I can create I chose to use my own Team Speak server at home that uses encryption and is peer to peer with no middle man. Absent of that chat/text client the next best would be Threema or Wire. But that's just the text/chat aspect.

If I wanted a secure VPN of my own I'd roll it myself with an Amazon AWS instance. That way I control the server. On the other hand, doing that means you can't try and break any MPAA laws with Kodi, etc for those that chose to use that. Plus, you can't illegally torrent with a roll your own VPN either.

There are many facets to security/privacy not just a VPN. A canvas fingerprint, WebRTC, your monitor resolution, etc can all rat you out and you need to know how to poison or control those aspects.

Then there's metadata and believe me when I tell you that's a big one. If you allow metadata to be embedded into your pictures you take with a smartphone or tablet, then I can see where that picture was taken since the GPS coordinates are in the picture its self. Did that VPN save you? Now to a lot of social media website's credit and eBay, they now strip metadata from images as well as my own site, but I made a warning about that anyway.

Then there is malware that can jack your security/privacy as well. Just a simple gif file can jack your security/privacy. A malicious java script file can do it, a malware laced AD or even a 1x1 pixel image embedded into your email can do it which is called a canary token.

I prevent and know how to prevent all of these myself. I also encrypt all of my computers, external HDDs containing a clone, USB sticks, my forum backups, you name it. And why do I do all of this? Because I know how, I can, and it's what I chose to do. And before anyone goes on about a tinfoil hat. Mine's gold platted and studded with precious gems to avoid TEMPEST. LOL!
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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