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  • Do I really need a VPN?

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      • #2364222
        CAS
        AskWoody Plus

        For several years I’ve been using the Firefox add-on VPN, Browsec. More and more I’m finding that several sites, including my bank, mortgage company and Netflix on-line, will not connect unless I turn it off. Moreover, I ran a speed test and found that my upload and download speeds were significantly reduced by the VPN. I removed it last week with a significant improvement in speed. The real issue is whether I need a VPN at all.

        At my home I have Lenovo desktop computer and my OS is Win 10 Pro 10.0.1904 Build 19042 that connects to the internet using a non-cordless connection. I use the computer mainly to read newspapers, magazine articles, and to shop on Amazon. I do not network or share any of my data with anyone. I do not allow  anyone to connect remotely. I use several Firefox privacy add-ons to block trackers, malware,etc., and, Malwarebytes Premium is my trusted AV. I have nothing of any significant value that hasn’t been backed up on an external drive. I do use Quicken and that is one of several applications that is managed by Malwarebytes. I do not browse on any site that is unsafe or that is insecure. Unless I know I’m going to download something, I browse with Firefox using Sandboxie.

        I have done several searches and have found that there are mixed messages as to my need for a VPN. The only time that my Wi-Fi is used is when I stream on Netflix or Amazon Prime.

        I always value the opinion of the members on this site. I look forward to your words of wisdom.

        Peace, CAS

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2364229
        b
        AskWoody MVP

        I was going to say “No.” and refer you to the video that Woody posted 18 months ago:

        An honest VPN commercial – from somebody who actually knows what he’s talking about

        But then I saw that you already watched it:

        Since the advent of VPN’s I must have read hundreds of articles and investigated 10’s of VPNs. (The result has been confusion.) No more; not after watching this video.

        What advantage do you (still) feel that a VPN might give you?

        Windows 10 Pro version 21H1 build 19043.1052 + Microsoft 365 (group ASAP)

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        CAS
      • #2364253
        CAS
        AskWoody Plus

        b, I thought that I had read something here about this topic and did several searchs to find it but was unsuccessful, so, I posted this. There’s nothing that focuses oneself on their age and memory loss than not remembering that you already know the answer to the question you asked.

        I laughed as I read your reply. Thanks for the memories.

        Peace, CAS

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        b
      • #2364265
        Microfix
        AskWoody MVP

        CAS, This is by no means an answer, only options to think about.
        I could suggest an alternative DNS such as Cloudflare (which I use) but, even using a more secure DNS has it’s drawbacks without using a VPN. For example, DNSSEC, TLS 1.3, and Encrypted SNI need to be supported on both ends before transport is slightly more secure. You could also harden the browser further by implementing about:config security tweaks which you would need to test for your own needs.

        It’s a fact of life that what were once good VPN’s are slowly being polluted by miscreants, scammers etc..hence the IP/IP range being blocked. Nowadays, VPN’s are a hit or a miss and that includes free and subscription providers.

        As for sensitive stuff, I always pre-check my IP and note dates/times when accessing their login portals.

        | Quality over Quantity |
        1 user thanked author for this post.
        CAS
      • #2364406
        anonymous
        Guest

        Depends on what you’re after.  VPN’s are great for getting a high degree of privacy while browsing.  It’s hard to find decent ones, VPN’s that aren’t data scrapers, but they are out there.  Many of the VPN Bandwagon junk providers that arose a year or so ago, disappeared.  It’s important to understand what VPN’s do and how they work.  If you really, really need Tor, using it inside a VPN is the only simple good way to do so.

        I would never even consider using a “VPN” browser extension, browsers have huge attack surfaces, far too many interactions and intermediaries to to work, no to mention the browser company, all of which track you for performance reasons and to sell your data.  All you’ll get is a warm and fuzzy, slow browsing and no protection for other programs that go online, just your browser.

        Mullvad, AirVpn, VPNac, iVPN, Perfect Privacy are all legitimate.

        Try this site, “Sven” has excellent info on all sorts of privacy tools.

        Home

         

        • #2364472
          b
          AskWoody MVP

          Try this site, “Sven” has excellent info on all sorts of privacy tools.

          Home

          I notice that, like virtually all sites that review VPN services, RestorePrivacy.com uses affiliate links for each service it recommends as the best; so it earns money by guiding people to those sites. We have to wonder whether they would recommend a good service with which they do not have a business arrangement.

          Windows 10 Pro version 21H1 build 19043.1052 + Microsoft 365 (group ASAP)

          2 users thanked author for this post.
          • #2364774
            anonymous
            Guest

            It’s not native advertsing as many of the VPN “review” sites are but yeah, “Sven” does use affiliate links.  The rankings change often, Express and Nord don’t hog the number one spot as they tend to do on sham sites.  If a VPN gets slow or has other issues, it drops in ranking.  Restore Privacy’s reviews are pretty good, not just some drivel to support rankings.  Some of the reviews are of free products such as browsers .

            If you know of a good review site that doesn’t use links, how do they stay alive?    Go back twenty years and the same thing was done; we were less aware and it was more subtle, though.

            The point was to note VPN services that are good and provide a source for decent info; it’s difficult to find.  I’ve used the services noted and can vouch for them disappearing in the background.

            I’ve also used Express, its client was designed by kindergartners, Nord tells you how to connect, Express puts ads in its client, Nord spams you to death.  Proton?  Yeah sure, they decide if your reason for dropping them is good enough.  Slow, too.  Windscribe’s client has sarcasm and dead links in it.  Trust any of them? No.  Slim Pickins.

            Seems like 90% of product links these days go to Amazon, even for items they don’t have!

             

      • #2364514
        wavy
        AskWoody Plus

        why would anyone use a free VPN that scrapes data?? Use a VPN for banking adds a another link in the security lineage. I would want a VERY trustworthy VPN for that. Better a locked down Linux for banking and 2 factor Authentication.

        Sandboxie is good for what it is intended.

        🍻

        Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
        • #2364527
          CAS
          AskWoody Plus

          wavy, my bank will not allow me to use a vpn to log on. Their software recognizes the IP address of my home computer. If I log in from any other computer there’s an extensive list of security questions that have to be answered.  A vpn is actually a hindrance for me in terms of the how I use my non-wi fi connected desktop computer.

          Microfix, I too pre-check my IP and note dates/times when accessing  sensitive login portals that do not require two step verification. My Firefox Browser has been hardened, as well.  Your comments are always appreciated and have helped me many times in the past.

          Peace, CAS

          1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2364557
        Kathy Stevens
        AskWoody Lounger

        We use a VPN to provide a secure, encrypted tunnel for our online traffic.

        We transmit a significant amount of sensitive information over the internet and choose to prevent our vendors (including Microsoft and our internet service provider) from monitoring our traffic.

        No problems with our financial institutions. We simply advised then that we use a VPN and all is well.

        When doing online shopping we route traffic through one of our VPN’s US based servers.

        But then there is the AskWoody site that aggressively blocks VPN routed traffic. But it is not a significant problem. We are now limiting our use of the site and when we do want to post we can normally find one of our VPN’s 1,500 servers that is not being blocked by Susan. In fact this feed is being routed via Cyprus.

        • #2364775
          anonymous
          Guest

          Only some VPN’s.  I can get in with two of mine, not the third.  Depends on your exit node, too.  YMMV but there’s no reason I need a VPN here.

      • #2364961
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        A VPN is a good security adjunct if you use public wifi.
        If you use your home / office connection then it is of little value.

        If you only visit https web pages then your data is end to end encrypted and cannot be snooped, except by a man in the middle attack. This sort of attack is very unlikely if you do not use public wifi.

        cheers, Paul

      • #2366082
        Sharonjohnson
        AskWoody Lounger

        What you are protecting yourself from is, anyone other than yourself knowing what you are doing online. Simple as that. If you are not conducting the illegal activity and are not concerned about others (individuals or corporations) knowing what you do online, then perhaps you don’t need a VPN.

      • #2366087
        doriel
        AskWoody Lounger

        Please look at this video, I think its very educational and it contains interestin facts.

        Youtube video here (7:25)

        Sorry for bringing trackers here with the link, but its topic orientated.

        Cathy wrote:
        We transmit a significant amount of sensitive information over the internet and choose to prevent our vendors (including Microsoft and our internet service provider) from monitoring our traffic.

        – that seems to be not accurate. If you use HTTPS protocol websites, you are already safe.

        And by the way today I looged into my Office 365 web portal for the firts time (I use Outlook application instead). And you know what? On the mainpage, there were my private documents! Without warning, without setting OneDrive, without my consent. Just random number of my documents from email inbox. I dont have a clue, why those were here, but it contains sensitive data. Its obvious Microsoft is crossing the line again, but noone can stop him.

        Dell Latitude E6530, Intel Core i5 @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, W10 20H2 Enterprise

        HAL3000, AMD Athlon 200GE @ 3,4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Fedora 29

      • #2366093
        Kathy Stevens
        AskWoody Lounger

        We use NordVPN:

        • It provides a secure, encrypted tunnel for our online traffic.
        • Our ISP does targeted advertising based upon analysis of our system usage – the encryption prevents them from harvesting our internet traffic.
        • By selecting a server, say the UK, we can get local BBC content that is not available via servers in our country. Same for video streams originating in other countries. Likewise, while traveling overseas we can login to our various video services as if we are in our home country.
        • A number of our vendors price their merchandise based upon the location of the server entering their site – by moving to servers in other parts of the country/continent we are able to do more effective price discovery.
        • While using a wireless network the VPN’s encrypted data stream is not readable by others on the network.
        • By using a VPN our traffic is encrypted until it reaches Norway where we do our data storage and by doing so is more difficult to access by various government agencies.
        • And there is more.  It all comes down to your need/desire for privacy and access to local content.
      • #2366110
        anonymous
        Guest

        A fundamental issue often missed is when a request (you click a link) is generated, the site requested has to know to whom the data is to be returned.  Trust is involved in every step regardless of how it’s accomplished.

        https only encrypts the actual data transmitted; the identity of the originator, intermediaries and destination are not private.  IOW, where you go is not private, what you send, is.  Any route trace utility will reveal every stop (hop) your data made.

        DNS translation is part of a successful connection, unless you enter a numerical IP address, in the same way.  The DNS provider’s server chain used for a particular request has to receive info from the server requesting the DNS translation, whether encrypted or not, in order to return or forward it.

        If you use your IPS’s DNS service, they can monitor where you go.  If unencrypted, every link clicked, not just the site visited.  If that’s a concern, use a different DNS provider. Unencrypted DNS (http) allows all info in your request to be read; encrypted (https) DNS only allows the origin/destination hop info to be read, not your request info.  Just using a non-ISP http DNS provider considerably increases privacy with your ISP.

        Don’t be too surprised if encrypted DNS set in your browser, adapters or router is flaky.  If it works perfectly, always, for say, a month, it’s OK, maybe.  I’ve never seen reliability like that.  Not sure why, our VPN’s use encrypted DNS and work perfectly.

        There’s trust involved in any internet transaction.  Every hop.  When you use a VPN, you’re in a tunnel operated by the VPN provider.  Your IP, requests, desination, DNS and return traffic is secure and private.  Your ISP only knows you’re using a VPN, nothing else.  Choose a reputable, trustworthy VPN, one that provides a secure tunnel with a hands off data policy.  Don’t use a browser extension unless all you want is bragging rights and slow browsing.

        As an aside, I use Xfinity Internet.  Recently, while perusing my account, I thought about looking at our privacy settings.  I had everything turned off…except two new items waaaay down below that were generously turned on.  Some affiliate sharing junk.  Now they’re off.  You may want to review your ISP privacy settings, especially after they send an email with privacy upgrades.  It’s probably an obfuscated downgrade 🙂

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