E021 - VPNs: Browse the ‘Net Like a Boss!
This week Rich and I tell you how to protect your personal data, financial information, and browse the internet like a boss by using a VPN! We also discuss chili, and engage in digressions about presidential power and the risks of mass surveillance.
Rich’s Drink: Peet’s Ristretto Espresso pods
Honorable Mention: Death Wish Coffee
Justin’s review of BRCC’s AK-47 on RevolverGuy
Virtual Private Networks
Why You Need a VPN: First and foremost, it’s not about having something to hide. It’s about having something to protect. For more information on why you NEED a VPN and NEED to protect your email account, check out a podcast called Breach. Your traffic is vulnerable at multiple levels.
If you are using Wi-Fi all of your traffic is transmitted via radio signal that can be captured by anyone.
If you are using a network that you don’t own and control (like a hotel, airport, or coffee shop Wi-Fi network) all of your traffic passes through someone else’s hardware and they can collect your data.
Once the traffic leaves the router, it goes to the Internet Service Provider (ISP). The ISP can see every website you are visiting and in many cases, what you are doing on those networks. ISPs can collect, collate, and sell this information to whomever they want. Including the government.
How a VPN Works
A VPN encrypts your traffic locally, on your phone or computer. This means that if anyone intercepts your traffic between you and the VPN server it will be useless because it is encrypted. A VPN requires two things to work:
A subscription to the VPN service. This gives you access to that VPN-provider’s servers and bandwidth.
An application on your device. This application will give you a graphical user interface that lets you configure the VPN, and it will allow you to connect to the VPN’s servers.
A VPN provides you with two things:
Security: Between your computer and the VPN server, all your packets are encrypted. This means they are secure from snooping.
Privacy: Once your traffic exits the VPN server, its encryption is removed and it looks like ordinary internet traffic. However, it looks like your traffic is originating at the VPN server, NOT from your internet connection.
We Recommend: Private Internet Access (PIA). PIA:
Supports Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android operating systems
Provides strong encryption (up to AES-256/SHA-256/RSA-4098) and uses the OpenVPN protocol
Has over 3,300 bare-metal servers worldwide
Is inexpensive; $39.99/year will allow you to connect 5 devices simultaneously and use unlimited bandwidth.
Beware of “free” VPN services and choose your VPN provider carefully!
Hola has multiple security flaws and sold its (your) bandwidth to hackers
Onavo Protect is owned by Facebook and collects massive amounts of user data from your device
Many VPNs don’t encrypt or offer any of the security features they purport to provide.
One unbiased source of information about VPNs is That One Privacy Guy’s VPN Comparison Chart
Book of the Week
COMSEC: Off-The-Grid Communications Strategies for Privacy Enthusiasts, Journalists, Politicians, and the Average Joe by Justin Carroll and Drew M.