Choose Privacy Week is now half over, but the awareness its raising has been amazing for the online privacy community. This campaign is led by the American Library Association. They use the hashtag #ChoosePrivacy to make it easy to find resources. You can also check out the official Choose Privacy blog for a central information source.
The movement is against growing state and corporate surveillance and every year Choose Privacy week presents us with a chance to get people who generally aren't interested in internet privacy to engage with the topic. As part of TechNadu's contribution to #ChoosePrivacy, here's why we believe a VPN is still the best defense against surveillance.
What is a VPN?
The term "VPN" is short for Virtual Private Network. It's a set of technologies that let you create a "tunnel" from your computer or internet router to another private network on the public internet.
Usually, everyone your data passes through on the way to its destination can see where its going. In many cases, they can also see the content itself. Although these days sites that start with "https" use a special code to hide the information itself.
Any information that passes through the VPN tunnel can only be seen when it leaves the tunnel again. So what does this mean for you in terms of privacy?
VPNs Mask You from Your ISP and the Government
The first system your data passes through when it leaves your home network is your ISP or Internet Service Provider. They are the ones that connect you to the rest of the internet.
It's especially dangerous for your ISP to know which sites you are visiting and what you are doing on the internet in general. This is because they know who you are and where you live.
Your ISP itself might not want to do anything to you, but they are often subject to laws that make them give up your data. Your government might have the power to seize or even actively monitor records of your internet activity.
Using a trusted VPN service with properly configured technology means both your ISP and the government will be in the dark when it comes to what you do on the net. Almost all reputable VPN providers don't keep any records on their users either. So even if your government could compel them, there's nothing to share!
VPNs Hide Your Location
Every device that's connected to the internet has an address that corresponds with its physical location. So if you go out onto the internet without the protection of a VPN the sites you visit and people you talk to can see where you are. Combine that with other clues and you could open yourself up to nasty harassment.
When you connect to a VPN server, you no longer broadcast your real location to the whole world. All others on the internet see is the address of the VPN server, which could be anywhere in the world. Only the VPN service knows where you are. As I mentioned above, this hardly matters. Since reputable VPNs don't keep any logs that contain your real IP address.
VPNs are Easy To Use
One of the main reasons we think that a VPN should be your first line of defense against privacy invasion is their ease of use. We review and test a lot of VPNs at TechNadu. Only in rare cases do we see VPNs that are genuinely complicated to use.
Whether you are using a PC, phone or tablet, getting up and running usually takes minutes. You don't even have to know any of the technical network jargon privacy nerds use. Generally, it's all handled automatically, with only the flip of a switch or two standing between you and internet freedom.
Not All VPNs are Created Equal
Just because we think VPNs are so important in general, doesn't mean that ALL VPNs are worth using. Some might not even be safe! Before you just sign up for the first VPN advert you see, please read our VPN buyer's guide. You should also be aware that there are fake VPNs out there. Also, be very wary of free VPNs.
Some VPNs don't really keep no logs at all. Others are simply configured poorly, so they leak information.
You can always refer to TechNadu for our VPN reviews to make sure a prospective VPN service is legitimate. Right now we'd recommend ExpressVPN to anyone who's new to VPN technology and wants something versatile and reliable.
Choosing a VPN means Choosing Privacy
Achieving internet anonymity can be quite an involved process. There is no magic bullet that will guarantee your privacy in a single step. However, if you are serious about choosing privacy then the strongest first move you can possibly make is to implement a solid VPN.
Just remember that a VPN is not a license to be irresponsible on the internet. There are also plenty of other ways you can give your information away. That's not even including all the ways we willingly give companies our data. Such as with Facebook and other social media. So please consider adding a VPN to your internet connection for your own privacy. But please don't stop thinking about the importance of privacy and how you can improve it on a continuous basis. Internet privacy is a state of mind and anyone can learn to think in privacy terms.