Article 45: VPN and Privacy Online

VPN and You: Reclaiming your Privacy


The world is connected. It’s just insane how many things connect to the Internet. I have spent many articles explaining ways to make those connections, and the overwhelming majority of the time, that is a good thing. However, it is more difficult than ever to keep what you are doing on the Internet a secret. Your computer is your computer, your personal time is your personal time, and if you don’t want hackers, networks, or providers to stick their nose in everything you are doing, or if you just want all the added security that you can get, a VPN might be for you. Let’s have a look at what they are, how they work, and how you can implement them easily on this week’s Modern Nerd.



Virtual Private Network: Your Internet Secret Clubhouse



In the digital age, there is no privacy. Interested parties have more tools than ever to see what pages you are accessing. There are ways to fight back without being a total Internet afficionado though.



A Virtual Private Network is functionally the same as a closed system, a local connection that does not depend on your distance from other computers. If you want to access systems or files that are on other computers without a third party seeing and examining them, you need to secure the connection. Several freely available programs like Hamachi are great for setting up your own connection to your friends and family and co-workers to play games without always on DRM, transfer files that you own without bandwidth limits or third parties, and you can see every computer on the connection so you know that you are remaining anonymous.

 



Total Anonymity: Going Dark



Being on the Internet proper provides a whole different set of challenges though. If you don’t want a record kept of where you are and where you’ve been, a subscription service might be for you. As citizens, we have the right to privacy. A VPN service can help you get some back by accessing the Internet through a proxy. Every service is different, and I won’t get into nitty gritty details. You should read through company policies and practices with regards to records and logging.



What a VPN service will do is send all of your Internet traffic through their connection, which is home to many other people’s connections, making it functionally impossible to distinguish one person’s data from another’s. it is then encrypted and sent to you. A good VPN service will not keep any records of where you’ve been or what you’ve seen, which is of course the point.



I can only scratch the surface of this topic in one article. It requires a bit more reading and homework if you like the idea and want to pursue it further. Internet searching for VPN services will point you in the right direction. In conclusion I will say that privacy is important, and we are becoming too comfortable with transparency in every aspect of our digital lives, so if you want to, you can take steps to get it back. Be sure to like our page on Facebook and subscribe to our RSS feed to get all of the updates for the Modern Nerd, every week here on the Computer Fixer’s blog.



Aaron Krick

Blog Contributor at The Computer Fixer

aaron@flyingparrotcomputers.com

www.thecomputerfixer.com

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