Install a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

January 2019

 

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows you to browse the internet without your identity being discovered. A VPN ensures that you cannot be monitored, tracked, or recorded. Although you can install one on your own, you may want someone with technical expertise to help you set it up.

First of all, what is a Virtual Private Network?

Think about your home computer network. That network can be set up so that it is completely separate from the Internet. Or imagine the internal computer network of the company for which you work. Most company networks are completely separate from the Internet and only allow those who are part of the company network to connect with other people on the company network.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows you to visit any site on the Internet as if you were connecting to a completely private network. In short, no website knows who you unless your tell them. Nor are they able to track you once you leave that website. In effect, you have turned the Internet into a private network.

So how, exactly, does a Virtual Private Network work?

A good VPN has thousands of customers who visit websites while using its identity to connect with those websites. Therefore the only thing that is known by those websites is that particular VPN’s identity, which is shared by thousands of other people. Also, since a good VPN will have hundreds of servers around the world, with each having its own Internet identity, it can cycle thousands of users through these hundreds of different identities to further hide the identity of any particular user. Since all data that are transmitted are encrypted, and a good VPN keeps no logs of those encrypted transmissions, or even logs of the meta-data, your online anonymity is guarenteed.

If you do not have a VPN, it is easy for corporations or others to spy on you.  For example, but your internet service provider (you ISP) probably spies on you to gather information about that it can sell to the major Internet corporations. And those public Wi-Fi connections that you use in your daily life, also record everything you say and sell that information. Free public WiFi is not really free.

But if you use a trustworthy VPN, its software will automatically encrypt your data before it is even send it to your Internet service provider or your public Wi-Fi connection. Thus they will have no idea about the information you are sending or the connections you are making. Thus only your VPN can spy on you, which is why you need to choose one that is trustworthy.

A trustworthy VPN, after it decrypts your data, will immediately delete that information and maintain no permanent record of it, as well as no permanent record of the meta-data involved in that encryption. And this is why the best VPNs are not located in major countries, including the United States, where security laws require them to be able to permanently record your decrypted data. The best VPNs are always located in small countries that do not have such security laws.

The security that a VPN company can offer is based on three factors:

* The type of protocol that is used. Most companies use the OpenVPN protocol, which is the most secure protocol.

* The company policies of the VPN company concerning the use of its technology. Of particular importance are their policies concerning the kinds of logs the company keeps on you, including billing logs.

* The laws of the nation in which the VPN is located.

While there are free VPNs, which make money when people upgrade to paid services, the average monthly payment for a full-service VPN is quite small (around $5 a month) and you are much better off with a paid service. Free VPNs generally do not provide the same levels of security. Indeed, in August of 2018, a free VPN called Onavo, owned by Facebook, was removed from Apple’s app store because of violations of user privacy.

 

Miscellaneous data:

* Most VPNs can be used to watch entertainment services like Netflix and Hulu, but you should check to make sure that your company does.

* The best VPNs have mobile apps for Android and iOS phones and those apps ensure that you are not spied upon. Some free VPNs, on the other hand, have phone apps that spy on you. 

* a VPN can be used on your smart television, but you must configure either the TV itself or your home Internet router. By configuring the router alone, you will be configuring it for your home computer and other Internet devices as well your television. 

* You should pick a VPN that supports your home router and your mobile devices with the same account.

* Your VPN should always be on. You should not have to log on to it.

 

To Install a VPN on a Router

When you install a VPN on your router, you are effectively configuring it for all the devices in your home that use that router to connect to the Internet. Thus this is the recommended point at which to install that software. 

The first step is to check to see if your router is compatible with your VPN. The rest of the steps differ depending on the VPN service. Installation of the actual software is usually simple.

The only real drawback to using a VPN is that it can slow your Internet connection. But in most cases this will not be noticeable unless you already have a slow connection.

 

Recommended VPN Service Providers

The following service providers are regarded as being among the best:

 

NordVPN

 

ExpressVPN

 

Private Internet Access

 

IPVanish