Virtual Private Networks: stay invisible on the Net

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Tunnel - an allegory of VPN

Secure surfing

A concept of individual security on the Net includes secure surfing. To use proxies is not enough: your ISP still has the power to monitor all your activity and record your traffic, especially if you use your provider's DNS servers.

VPN, or virtual private network, is a network based upon an existing network; all the traffic through VPN is «invisible» — encrypted, made indecipherable. VPN services are used by many corporation, since these networks proivide high level of internet security when used properly.

There are many VPN products and services, both open source and commercial. Notorious open source OpenVPN is one of the most popular solution in case you do care about secure access to the resources of your private network (intranet), or to any standalone server's resources.

However, you can use VPN services free of charge, to make Internet surfing more secure.

Beyond hiding one's traffic from prying eyes, VPN can serve other needs. For example, it can allow accessing otherwise restricted or blocked sites (yes, Internet has places blocked for certain people).

Free VPN services

There are several VPN services offering free usage. I think ItsHidden and UltraVPN. Both offer clients to access their networks; however, one can use other VPN clients to connect. such as Shrew Soft.

Although, for example, ItsHidden doe s not provide a Linux client, any existing PPP client, such as pptp, may be used.

After you create an account at a VPN service, install client and connect, all your traffic starts to come though a safer path. At least it can't be directly watched by ISP or any 3-rd parties en route.

It's not too hard to find other free and/or commercial VPN services; if the ones mentioned do noy satisfy your needs.

Security is a state of mind

Security, talking of Internet security, is a complex thing. It can't be reduced to a single one-time action.

If you plan to surf securely, you should take the following into account:

  • cookies: if you accept them, your privacy may be jeopardized; the best way is to not store any cookies
  • JavaScript or other scripting language) may break your privacy and report a number of private data to the site; disable JavaScript for better security
  • Java and/or any other active content may as well report your real-life data to the server; disable for better security
  • your public identity, such as using email address you are using on «insecure» sites may help to decipher your identity and disrupt privacy altogether

Thus, safer surfing means less convenient interface, many a sites' functions not available.

«Convenience, security, reliability — choose any two».

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Konstantin Boyandin published on March 9, 2010 3:19 PM.

VPS: security doesn't like defaults was the previous entry in this blog.

IPHost Network Monitor: a major update, 10-th of March, 2010 is the next entry in this blog.

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