`

Using VPNs to Enhance your Privacy and Security

Virtual Private Networks Can Help Enhance Your Privacy and Security

Recently we wrote an article covering the top ways to protect your digital privacy. Today we are covering Virtual Private Networks in depth. One of the many benefits of VPN’s is the ability to both enhance your security and privacy.  Many people, and business use employ Virtual Private Networks, and there are a host of providers of VPN services as well as hardware solutions

Encryption

Data encryption is essential to protecting your digital privacy.  Many virtual private network providers offer data encryption as your information travels from one endpoint to another.  This is important for both stopping man in the middle attacks and stopping the intrusive eyes of Internet Service Providers, and Government snooping from being able to intercept and log your information.  When looking for a VPN service avoid any service that does not over data encryption. 

Commercial Use

VPNs are used extensively in business applications for connected to physically separate offices, to help people work remotely whether on the road, from home, or even from another country.  It has the benefit of connecting the user to the internal network allowing the user to use intranet services from printers, to servers, and network storage.  All without having to expose those services individual to the public internet.  this creates a single point of entry which is far safer and easier to defend against attacks.  

Protection on Unsecure Networks

often when traveling, we use our computers, or smartphones on public wifis.  many places have these wifis, Airports, Cafes, Libraries, Universities, and Hotels are all places where public access to the internet is common.  this creates the potential issue of sending important information over an unsecured connection. on such a network information is susceptible to man in the middle attacks.  Using a vpn service helps encrypt the information you are sending over the network improving your digital security and privacy.  

Hide your IP address

Virtual Private Networks hide your IP Address because you are essentially connecting through another network and using the VPN service's IP address as your own.  This has the benefit of Internet Service Providers not being able to track your information.   IP addresses can be used to track your location, and leaves a digital signature everywhere you go on the internet, by disguising your IP Address you are effectively changing how you appear to be.  

Hide data from ISPs

Let’s face it, many people are uncomfortable with the idea of a faceless organization controlling our data, and selling it to the highest bidder.  While ISPs currently don’t sell personally identifiable information, the fact that this information can potentially be used in a way that it compromises your online identity should make a person think about sharing information. 

Already advanced tracking of individuals by companies sometimes companies are more aware of your pregnancy, sexual orientation, or health status, than your friends or family.  It doesn’t take much of a leap of logic to see health companies making decisions on whether to insure someone, or what price to charge them.  It also raises concerns about government gaining access to personal information, that could be used to target marginalized groups.  This is already happening in many countries worldwide with the ongoing arrest and executions in chechnya.  

Data Logging

Some VPN providers log your information that you transmit your information this can be problematic, as it does not completely protect your online presence from unwanted intrusion.  Logged data is vulnerable to hacking, court orders, and ISP backtracking.

Foreign VPN Service Providers beyond the reach of US Courts and Rules

For some that are concerned about government intrusion, picking a VPN provider that is outside the us and in a country with strong privacy rights adds a layer of protection.  This additional step can help you protect from warrants or court orders. 

Limitations

It's important to remember that Virtual Private Networks are only one part of the equation when it comes to digital privacy.  VPNs must be used with other tools, and technologies, as well as smart browsing techniques to ensure that your digital privacy is protected. 

In addition, service companies such as Netflix have implemented measures to block traffic from known VPN service providers in order to stop individuals from outside the country from viewing content that is not licensed from this company.  These types of preventative measures are in the interest of Netflix to maintain its current complex licensing agreements with Media Producers.   

Choosing the Right VPN Service

There are several guidelines published by the Electronics Frontier Foundation for choosing a VPN service.  one of the first steps in protecting against unwanted intrusion is using a non traceable currency such as bitcoin.  this adds the additional step of not having a VPN service being traced back to your credit card.  Online privacy is about limiting your exposure and breadcrumbs.  The less that can be traced back to you the better your privacy is protected online.  Anytime a transaction occurs is a weak point in data privacy since it brings in a middle man.  

Do You Really Need a VPN?

It all comes down to personal choice, and the tradeoffs that come with using such a service.  by using a vpn service you add complexity.  and for every security precaution you take you can limit your ability to use some of the web that doesn't allow VPN's to use their services.