Staying secure & semi-anonymous on the web
Simply put, a vpn (virtual private network) can be incredibly beneficial for multiple reasons. Most corporations require access to their networks via a vpn for security and allowing flexible access to much needed resources within their networks. VPN services are becoming much more popular however for the general web surfer not connecting to corporate networks. I have been on a quest to find a solid service provider, and here is my 30 day review of ivpn.net.
One of the first things I loved about ivpn.net was that they “claim” not to keep logs. That is really important to me because that is kind of the whole point of using a vpn as a regular web user. To remain as “anonymous” as possible. Why? So I can do illegal activities? No, just because it’s not anyone’s business. I pay a fee to my ISP every month for access, but I know that they log and sell that information and provide it to marketers, federal agencies, and other agencies such as the RIAA and MPAA.
The other feature I really appreciate is that the account and VPN user ID are separated. You can also pay anonymously without using a credit card. I know if you’re reading this you might be thinking “man, is this guy a crackpot thinking the government is watching his every move?” the answer to that is, yes. To a degree I know that I’m being tracked not just for suspicion of anything, it’s primarily for marketers to use that data for re-targeting ad campaigns.
I wont condone the illegal download of copyrighted content, but it is also tracked to the IP of the user. Evrytiime you do anything online, there are packets of data being streamed across the internet with your IP address and other useful information to ahckers or anyone monitoring traffic. Did you know that most of what users do online that requires a login often isn’t encrypted? Yup, that’s right. For the longest time even Facebook, Gmail, Twitter and several other websites didn’t default to a SSL (secure socket layer) web page when logging into their web application. So anyone that was monitoring traffic on that network could see usrnames and password in plain text and hijack those accounts. They can also highjack session cookies like in the case of fire-sheep.
As I write this blog post I’m sitting in a popular cafe. Granted, I usually use my own internet provided by a 4g clear hotspot, but sometimes I do use the public wifi. Most users will also be on that wifi. If I’m connected via a vpn ALL of my trasmissions are being encrypted. A vpn creates a security blanket essentially around your internet traffic. Anyone on that network running wireshark, nessus, nmap or any other packet sniffer will see traffic from you but all your data is encrypted so it just looks like garbage to them. They will then just move on to the next victim.
Obviously security is very important to me, and ivpn.net provides a lot of it. I’ve been thrilled so far with the ping time responses, the uptime, and options available. You can use openVPN or Tunnelblick to use their service. They allow you to create 2 hope connections as well which is super bad ass. I use Tunnelblick which is a Mac OSX version of openvpn. Both applications are registered under the GNU GPLv2 license and the source code is freely available which means anyone can look at the code of the vpn application, no surprises. No proprietary softwre required to use the vpn service.