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VPN, See the Wood from the Trees

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Want to stop big data and everyone else profiting off of your personal private data. And selling you stuff you ain’t interested in? Try a Virtual Private Network, known as a VPN. It won’t fix all your privacy problems, but VPNs are a great start.

VPN is a private, controlled network that connects you to the internet Your connection with your VPN’s server is encrypted, and if you browse the wider internet through this smaller, secure network, it’s difficult for anyone to eavesdrop on what you’re doing from the outside. VPNs stop your ISP knowing all browsing habits because they just see all the logs of you connecting to the VPN server.

There are better ways of hiding your browsing and more effective ways of achieving anonymity.

Trust & Verify

VPNs can shield you from your big wifi provider, also known as your ISP, (internet service provider) — they can track all of your activities and movements online. So for a VPN to be any more private than an ISP, the company that offers the VPN needs to be trustworthy. That’s not easy to confirm.

One solid indicator? Check whether the VPN keeps logs of user activity. Many privacy-focused VPNs are up-front about their no-log policies because they want to make it clear to law enforcement groups around the world that even if they are served with a warrant or subpoena, they can not produce customer records. Check a company’s Terms of Service to see what it says there about logging and general discloser of user information.

Like privacy, hate snoopers, here’s an obvious tip. Do not use a free Chinese VPN for obvious reasons. A company could misrepresent it’s logging practices or could unintentionally store your data without realising for longer than it means to. Hum!

Sadly scams are commonplace especially amongst mobile-only providers, so stick to well-established brands who charge for their services. Here’s a tip too, do not free trial anything that does ask for card details at the start of the free trial. If you do, then you are the price.

And even if you’ve d the one all the research you can and checked the reputation against independent assessments, there can still be flaws in how companies set up and configure their VPN services, which could cause data leaks that are simply beyond your control.

VPNs everywhere, which one am I gonna buy?

That headline is important because it would be silly to use a free VPN given what you are looking to achieve, privacy. Want to take a sneak peek, here’s our shop

“ISPs are companies that we pay, sharing personal information of their clients with third parties is wrong,” says Graham Mulhern, CEO of YourVPNstore. Mulhern adds that consumers should feel empowered to vet VPNs by checking their stance on logging, choosing smaller companies that are less likely to be targeted for having access to tons of valuable data and using a VPN that is based in a different country.

Graham Mulhern, CEO of YourVPNstore.com

What the VPN world really needs are standardized independent audits. Until those become commonplace—which doesn’t seem likely any time soon—your best bet is to stick with reputable names, rather than rushing to the first Google result.

F-Secure Freedome, for instance, received plaudits from independent security researchers for its mobile product recently. A VPN called Private Internet Access is bare-bones but well-reviewed, and a recent FBI case appeared to confirm its claims that it does not store any user logs.

Let’s face they may be no such as best VPN, but we select our options very carefully, most promoters that approach us, we don’t even talk too. We won’t stake our reputation on them.

So to get started, here’s the sequence 1. Do your due diligence 2. Get your free trial, 3. Trial with a VPN provider who wants to give credit cards before the download. This reduces the number of trials by up to 90% as people hate giving card details out. Hasta la vista to the tyre kickers though. 

VPNs offer different servers you can connect through that are based in different countries. Many also offer features like “kill switches,” so that if your internet or VPN connection becomes unstable, the VPN will automatically quit pre-selected programs. This reduces the chance of data leakage from sensitive programs if the line weakens for any reason. Once you install your VPN, you can use the geek tool IPLeak.net tool to check whether the service is functioning. Very geeky but completely recommended. 

BBC & Netflix

BeSecureOnline.co.uk asked people what’s the main reason people buy VPNs. 62% of people confirmed watching BBC iPlayer or Netflix as the top reason.

VPN connections can be slower, or faster, it is not a given however they are slower in general. Only serious players now trick BBC Iplayer or US Netflix no longer work on a regular VPN. Monthly fee-based VPNs tend to work. We confirm that VYPR, Cyber Ghost and Nord from our site work with BBC iPlayer and Netflix. Correct at time of writing!

We love VPN. We think VPNs are great no doubt about that. We speak with all vendors we work with, we know what to ask and what not to ask. We trial in advance of posting them on any of our sites. We don’t do a trial of Freedome VPN or AVG Secure.