VPNs and your privacy
A lot has been written about online privacy in the past few years. The NSA has been in the news so often about breaching privacy and lawsuits with big internet providers and service providers like Google.
So as a law-abiding citizen do you have to worry about online privacy?
That is a good question. For many years, I thought that online privacy wasn’t a concern to me since I was doing nothing wrong. But in hindsight that idea was so wrong.
Let’s put it this way – if you are not concerned with the NSA monitoring your activities, you should be concerned with Google, Facebook and all other websites like them monitoring and trending your viewing habits.
Here is a test for you – Go to an ecommerce site, any site. For this example, we’ll choose Expedia, the travel website. Go to their site, look around for a few pages and then head off to your Facebook account. Now look at the ads. Bingo. You will now automatically and instantly be inundated with travel ads. Kind of scary, isn’t it?
Are there ways to hide your movements?
For simple things like Facebook or Google tracking your movements and displaying annoying ads based on your website travels it is pretty easy. You can use a private window that doesn’t store cookies or other personal information. In Google Chrome, click in the far right corner on the three bars icon and choose “new incognito window”. In Mozilla Firefox, click on the same button and choose “new private window”. Any browsing you do in this mode will not be tracked by Google, Facebook, Yahoo, or any other site.
But this does not make you anonymous. Far from it. It simply stops them from tracking your movements for ad serving purposes.
How do I make myself completely anonymous?
It’s really not that hard to make yourself completely anonymous to the big guns like the NSA and it’s not expensive but it’s not free either. The best choice to hide your online movements is use a private/incognito window like we described above in conjunction with a good VPN service like Torguard. Using a private browser window with a VPN will make you essentially invisible to essentially all sites that want to track you. And there are a ton of other benefits to using a VPN that we will discuss in the next article.
But there are free proxies and vpns available, why should I pay?
Firstly, there are few, if any truly free VPN services available. They cost the provider a lot of money to setup and it’s doubtful they are going to give away their expensive setups for free. Proxies are not the same and the free ones are almost always not anonymous and also are often from some poor soul that has had their server hacked and is unknowingly supporting all of the traffic that is being sent to it. Plain and simple, that is theft so please be very hesitant to support any type of site that is giving you ‘free’ services. I’m not saying they are the villains here, but at the end of the day someone has to pay for it and I don’t want it to be some poor unsuspecting soul.