“The contents of a man’s letters are more valuable than the contents of his purse.” – Varys, Game of Thrones
The Internet has value to you, and there is value in how you use the Internet. Such value in fact that businesses will take apart your traffic (including your password and email contents) to get at it. Everyone wants your money, and Internet access is expensive (in the US). Now that your monthly bills include water, natural gas, electricity and an Internet line, citizens now find there’s another basic bill to pay: VPN provider.
A VPN is a Virtual Private Network – an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the provider. You and a thousand other people who use the same provider all have their traffic (email, Facebook or amazon.com, etcetera) coming out the same server. Doing this means:
- The cafe who’s wireless network you’re using can’t sell your browsing habits or hit you with target ads.
- The hacker in the cafe who’s looking for passwords can’t steal yours, be it work or personal.
- Your internet provider (Comcast, CenturyLink, etc) can’t strangle your Internet connection if they don’t want you doing what you’re doing (like watching Netflix or downloading a Linux distribution via Torrent, both of which have been proven to happen and they’re still doing, regardless of court order to stop because it’s very hard to prove).
- Your neighbor can’t eavesdrop on your Internet activity because your Comcast connector is off a splitter, a now universal practice.
Didn’t you find it odd that you emailed your sister about coming to visit and five minutes later you’re getting an add for “cheap flights” right to her? This happens all the time, and it’s why you need a VPN.
At your work, are you working on something Top Secret? Most people would say no, but businesses make their staff use VPN’s to access their email and corporate network anyway, and for good reason. Your personal accounts, emails and shopping habits are no less interesting and valuable than business assets, but while businesses can afford to be their own VPN provider, the general public cannot… until now.
There are a myriad of VPN providers, some costing as little as $5 / month. You’ll find them here in order of my own preference:
Whatever provider you choose, Google them and do your own research. Want to install it on your ‘droid or iPhone? Google “mullvad iphone sucks” and see what you get. If nothing, good sign!
Next, google “best vpn provider arizona” (or wherever you live) and read on. Look at their billing practices, reliability and speed, then call the ball.
When you sign up and the sidebar advertisements have nothing to do with you, you’ll know it’s working. Your email passwords are safer, your Facebook account is safer and you’re off the radar of the attacker with the laptop sitting next to you.
Update, 12/28/18 – VPN’s are a piece of the puzzle, but spread spectrum VPN’s are better. Consider metadata, histographic / “Pattern of Life” analysis and AdvertisingID’s. These pieces are covered here : https://www.whisperloudly.net/tracking-your-internet-activity-by-histogram/