Wednesday, October 17, 2018


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Are you a traveler, a journalist, an activist, a hacker, or a torrent user? Do you live in a country that doesn’t allow access to social media websites, torrent pages, or video sharing sites? Do you just want to stream Netflix, the BBC, or Hulu from abroad? Or, do you regularly use unsecured public WiFi hotspots?

If you answered any of the above questions with a “yes”, you may benefit from using a VPN service to protect your online privacy or simply to gain access to geo-blocked content.

The internet is far from the peaceful and innocent information highway it once was. Cybercriminals - hackers, stalkers, bullies, and scammers - lurk in the shadows of the digital world. They can’t wait to find their next prey.

Join us as we uncover the reasons you should be using a VPN to secure your privacy.



How a VPN works in a nutshell


Essentially, a VPN solution creates an encrypted tunnel for all your internet traffic. This means that all your online activities become unreadable and unidentifiable even to your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Of course, this is only true if we assume that you’re using a leak-free, top-notch VPN service.

Most VPNs use AES-256 encryption to cipher what you’re sending over the net. This algorithm is also used by the US military and other government authorities - it can’t be decrypted. At least not in this lifetime.

There are different protocols that can be used to deliver the packets of information. Normally, you are offered a choice between OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, IPsec, and IKEv2, depending on your device and your speed and security needs.



Common issues when not using a VPN

There are several reasons why it’s risky to be online without a VPN encrypting your traffic and spoofing your IP address. We’d say it’s like walking down the street wearing painted-on clothes. Simple folk might not realize you are all naked, but snoopers could easily bust you.

Believe it or not, the internet is swarming with snoopers. Your ISP, your government, big data, and cyber crooks all want to know what you are doing online and when you are doing it.

If that sounds like a breach of privacy to you, we’d be inclined to agree!

Of course, the official communication claims that “this is all for your protection.” Sure it is. However, it also ignores your basic civil right for freedom of information and privacy. Since these intrusive parties don’t seem to care, it only makes sense that you take matters into your own hands.



In a nutshell, these are the most common issues when not using a VPN:

- Prying eyes, such as your ISP, your government, and criminals can snoop on your online activities.

- Your physical location and identity can be linked to your web traffic.

- You cannot access censored or geo-blocked websites, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, YouTube, and Facebook.

- Using insecure public WiFi hotspots might expose you to online stalkers and hackers.

- Third parties can snoop on your browsing and shopping habits to target you with customized ads.

- P2P file-sharing and torrenting can result in a copyright infringement notice from your ISP or worse from law enforcement.

- In some countries, publishing and sharing your articles or research as an activist or investigative journalist can be dangerous.

- As a traveler, you may be unable to log into your bank account or work remotely.

After reading this list, you may have second thoughts about your privacy and security online. There really is no wonder why VPN services have been on the rise over the past few years.

Common risks when using the wrong VPN

Unfortunately, the VPN market can be difficult to navigate. If you don’t do your research properly, it’s possible or even likely that you’ll end up with the wrong VPN service. We don’t advise you to click on pop-up ads or fall for promotional mumbo-jumbo. The best thing you can do to find the right VPN provider for your needs is to read reviews and comparisons.

Choosing and using the wrong VPN can have serious consequences. Although a virtual private network should be all about keeping you anonymous on the web, out of 400+ VPN services there may only be a handful that offers the right level of versatility, online security, and privacy.


Here’s what might happen when you use a VPN that is not as secure as its promotional content makes you believe:

- Sensitive information leaks: a VPN without reliable security features (a kill switch, decent IP and DNS leak protection, etc) can leak information. This means that your location and online activities may be exposed. This is the worst that can happen to journalists, activists, and hackers.

- Incrimination: free VPNs, like Hola and VPN Gate, share your idle bandwidth (and thus also your IP address) with other users to spoof their location. This creates an opportunity for criminals to commit online crimes in your name.

- Getting caught unblocking: countries like China use Deep Packet Inspection and other methods to bust users who try to unblock geo-restricted content using a VPN. You could be fined when caught - or worse.

- Getting caught torrenting: certain countries don’t allow torrenting, regardless of whether you’re downloading pirated material or not. If you are caught accessing torrent sites, downloading or uploading torrent files, your IP may be banned, and you may also have to pay a fine. The worst case scenario is that you might get arrested for seeding or leeching licensed content.

- No logs policy turning against you: although most VPNs claim to keep no logs of your activities, it’s usually either fully or partially not true. So, while you may feel safe using your VPN, your provider may be logging data that can be used to identify your location and your person. There have been several cases when such logs helped authorities to convict their suspects.

Conclusion

Without a VPN, you are an open book. However, before you choose a VPN, you need to make sure you know exactly what you are subscribing to. If anonymity and security are what you’re looking for - take your time.Go here for more detailed information about the major benefits of using a VPN.



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