Picking a VPN -- 2019

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nordsteve
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Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by nordsteve » Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:04 am

Taking a quick look at the history of VPN threads, we haven't had a good one in about a year. This new article in Slate does an excellent job of illustrating the trust issues surrounding VPN provider selection.

https://slate.com/technology/2019/02/be ... ivacy.html

I personally do not use a VPN for my personal web browsing, as I trust my ISP (Comcast) more than I would any of these providers. Similarly, my large employer is moving away from VPN for access to corporate applications.

But I know that others are believers in VPN for privacy reasons. The article is helpful for VPN enthusiasts as they make their provider choice.

HeadTail
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by HeadTail » Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:20 am

nordsteve wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:04 am
Taking a quick look at the history of VPN threads, we haven't had a good one in about a year. This new article in Slate does an excellent job of illustrating the trust issues surrounding VPN provider selection.

https://slate.com/technology/2019/02/be ... ivacy.html

I personally do not use a VPN for my personal web browsing, as I trust my ISP (Comcast) more than I would any of these providers. Similarly, my large employer is moving away from VPN for access to corporate applications.

But I know that others are believers in VPN for privacy reasons. The article is helpful for VPN enthusiasts as they make their provider choice.
The issues pointed out in this article are not new, and like many articles on this subject it does not provide much actionable suggestions (although compared to many other similar articles, this one is at least reasonably accurate). For a (the only?) reputable/neutral and detailed (and necessarily technical/long) comparison/reviews of various VPN providers, see

https://thatoneprivacysite.net/vpn-comparison-chart/

Spooler: There is no perfect one, and it comes down to a cost/benefits analysis. The hardest part for a consumer is to recognize what are the costs and what are the benefits -- it's almost like picking a AA/FA (see how I bring the subject back to bogleheads :) )

xb7
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by xb7 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:03 pm

This is a tricky topic, and I think it's good to look at it in the context of how --- and why --- you use a VPN.

For me, the main use is when using wi-fi when traveling, I rarely use one at home and I don't use it for financial transactions. One reason I avoid using it at home is that for some services, trouble ensues when my IP changes each time I login and seems (to them) to come from questionable sources, and I have to go through 2-factor authentication for everything, each and every time I logon (hmm, now that I have a Yubikey, maybe not such a hassle though ...). And I guess I trust that the odds aren't bad for me when using a wired connection to my one and only local ISP.

I use NordVPN, and it was interesting to see how the first referenced article talks about them; the fact that they've hired an independent auditor is somewhat heartening. They're based in Panama, which I think gives some people pause, but the counter-argument that I've read is that you DON'T want your VPN to be based in any major country --- that might be inclined to demand records on its citizens and/or foreigners. Of course I have no control if Panama were to decide that access to such information were beneficial, other than hoping that Nord would inform their customers ... who knows. Bottom line is that I don't do things that are terribly risky with or without the VPN, it's basically to keep me from being hacked or spied on or whatever over un- or poorly-secured wi-fi. I suppose I could try to also use it to get Netflix programming from other countries, but I haven't ventured there! :-)

2015
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by 2015 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:51 pm

xb7 wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:03 pm
This is a tricky topic, and I think it's good to look at it in the context of how --- and why --- you use a VPN.

...
This.
I looked into use of a VPN and I think you're just trading one risk (privacy) for another (VPN reliability).

patrick
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by patrick » Sun Mar 03, 2019 8:04 pm

You should first ask yourself what you are trying to keep secret and who you are trying to keep it secret from.

If you want to keep your online banking passwords secret, regular HTTPS should be sufficient to prevent it from being intercepted in transit. However, you also need to make sure there is no malware on your machine that steals the password on your end -- if there is, the VPN won't help.

If you want to keep your transactions with Vanguard (or any other US-based financial institution) secret from the US government, the VPN won't help there either. The US government already can get your financial information from the financial institutions themselves.

indexfund56
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by indexfund56 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 8:16 pm

Good info on this topic here: https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-vpn-service/amp/

I use IVPN and have been pleased.

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Rob5TCP
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by Rob5TCP » Sun Mar 03, 2019 8:25 pm

I have been using Private Internet Access (PIA) for 3 years. Their service has been
excellent. On sale, I usually pay about $35 per year for 2 years.

McDougal
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by McDougal » Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:40 am

Rob5TCP wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 8:25 pm
I have been using Private Internet Access (PIA) for 3 years. Their service has been
excellent. On sale, I usually pay about $35 per year for 2 years.
delete

NoHeat
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by NoHeat » Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:13 am

Hide My Ass --

I used to use it. It has lots of servers around the world, which is handy for travel, but the promotional materials on its web site give many hints that it's intended to cater to law breakers. Trust is the key word in the article cited by the OP. It's hard to know what goes on behind the scenes at a VPN, but those hints of law breaking at Hide My Ass just don't give me reason to trust them.

NordVPN --

I use this now. Its promotional materials don't have the same creepy feel as for Hide My Ass -- that's the only basis I have for preferring NordVPN.

The only problem I've had with NordVPN is Bank of America -- I'm unable to connect to BoA servers on my Mac or my iPhone, when using NordVPN.

Excerpt from the Slate article cited by the OP:

Two of the more reputable tech sites that review VPNs, PCMag and CNET, both give Panama-based NordVPN the top spot, citing its speed, ease of use, and privacy features. But two others, Wirecutter and Tom’s Guide, found NordVPN slow and buggy.

Coltrane75
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by Coltrane75 » Thu Mar 07, 2019 9:05 am

You may want to check out the site below where VPNs are summarized in great detail:

https://thatoneprivacysite.net/

Most other sources of information I've come across that aggregate VPN information from this forum and other parts of the internet usually contain limited or affiliated/funded information.

I use Mullvad out of Sweden.

greetje
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by greetje » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:24 am

We go south as snowbirds for 5 months. Our apartment complex of 600 units has a public WI FI that is unsecured we connect to.
I do all our banking online. I assumed since all my banking and financial sites start with https: it is secure. But is it?
Do I need a VPN or something like that? I have a laptop with windows 10.

I also have a I Pad and tracfon smartphone that I connect through the same public unsecured WI FI but do not do anything financial on those.

gtd98765
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by gtd98765 » Thu Oct 03, 2019 12:50 pm

Our apartment complex of 600 units has a public WI FI that is unsecured we connect to.
I do all our banking online. I assumed since all my banking and financial sites start with https: it is secure. But is it?
I believe a sophisticated snoop could tell that someone was accessing a particular bank, e.g., bank of america, but could not tell what that person was doing there, e.g., view whatever you are seeing, or interfere with deposits or transfers. https encrypts everything except the address. It's kind of like someone outside a BofA branch could see you go in and out, but not be able to tell what you did while you were inside.

Topic Author
nordsteve
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by nordsteve » Mon Oct 21, 2019 3:46 pm

Bringing this thread back to life -- looks like NordVPN got hacked. This illustrates the difficulty an outsider has in assessing the security of VPN services, when compared with competitors or just using your ISPs network.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/10/21/nordv ... as-hacked/

gtd98765
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by gtd98765 » Mon Oct 21, 2019 8:49 pm

nordsteve wrote:
Mon Oct 21, 2019 3:46 pm
Bringing this thread back to life -- looks like NordVPN got hacked. This illustrates the difficulty an outsider has in assessing the security of VPN services, when compared with competitors or just using your ISPs network.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/10/21/nordv ... as-hacked/
https://krebsonsecurity.com/2019/10/ava ... more-49296 :
VPN software creates an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the VPN provider, effectively blocking your ISP or anyone else on the network (aside from you and the VPN provider) from being able to tell which sites you are visiting or viewing the contents of your communications. This can offer a measure of anonymity, but the user also is placing a great deal of trust in that VPN service not to get hacked and expose this sensitive browsing data.

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whodidntante
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by whodidntante » Mon Oct 21, 2019 9:12 pm

xb7 wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:03 pm
you DON'T want your VPN to be based in any major country --- that might be inclined to demand records on its citizens and/or foreigners.
VPNs in countries that wax ecstatic about rule of law can use a warrant canary. Basically you provide an encrypted message that a warrant has not been served periodically. If that stops being true, you stop feeding the canary, and your users are advised to assume the service has been compromised.

jaybee9
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by jaybee9 » Mon Oct 21, 2019 9:29 pm

Coltrane75 wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 9:05 am
You may want to check out the site below where VPNs are summarized in great detail:

https://thatoneprivacysite.net/

Most other sources of information I've come across that aggregate VPN information from this forum and other parts of the internet usually contain limited or affiliated/funded information.

I use Mullvad out of Sweden.
+1 on the website recommendation.

I also use Mullvad.

prioritarian
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by prioritarian » Mon Oct 21, 2019 10:46 pm

nordsteve wrote:
Mon Oct 21, 2019 3:46 pm
Bringing this thread back to life -- looks like NordVPN got hacked. This illustrates the difficulty an outsider has in assessing the security of VPN services, when compared with competitors or just using your ISPs network.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/10/21/nordv ... as-hacked/
Considering that NordVPN has many thousands of app containers hosted at hundreds private VSPs the fact that one server was accessed is unsurprising. There is no evidence that its app or credentialing was compromised.

I've been using NordVPN to stop Comcast from throttling my internet for many, many years. Very satisfied customer.

flyingaway
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by flyingaway » Thu Jun 04, 2020 12:24 pm

I have a VPN from my employer. If I connect the VPN to my employer's account, do I get VPNed when I connect to other accounts at the same time?

Topic Author
nordsteve
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by nordsteve » Thu Jun 04, 2020 12:31 pm

That depends entirely on how your employer configures your VPN. At work I use two VPNs -- one does "split tunneling" where non-work traffic goes directly to the internet; the other is 100% routed through my employer's network.

It's possible to tell whether split routing is enable on your machine, but it requires some depth knowledge of networking to do so.

edgeway
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by edgeway » Thu Jun 04, 2020 2:22 pm

nordsteve wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 12:31 pm
That depends entirely on how your employer configures your VPN. At work I use two VPNs -- one does "split tunneling" where non-work traffic goes directly to the internet; the other is 100% routed through my employer's network.

It's possible to tell whether split routing is enable on your machine, but it requires some depth knowledge of networking to do so.
Isn't it possible to tell if your internet traffic is being split by simply going to one of those "what is my IP address" websites to see where your "regular" traffic is coming from? In other words, my employer runs the VPN out of certain parts of the country. So if the IP Address website thinks I'm located out of one of those parts of the country (and not where I currently live) then doesn't that mean all of my internet use is being fed through the work VPN?

Topic Author
nordsteve
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by nordsteve » Thu Jun 04, 2020 2:31 pm

edgeway wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 2:22 pm
Isn't it possible to tell if your internet traffic is being split by simply going to one of those "what is my IP address" websites to see where your "regular" traffic is coming from?
It does for the "what is my IP address" website.

sd323232
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by sd323232 » Thu Jun 04, 2020 2:35 pm

2015 wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:51 pm
xb7 wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:03 pm
This is a tricky topic, and I think it's good to look at it in the context of how --- and why --- you use a VPN.

...
This.
I looked into use of a VPN and I think you're just trading one risk (privacy) for another (VPN reliability).
One of the cases where VPN is a must is when you connect to public wifi (airport, starbucks, etc). Without VPN, they will steal all info on your phone.
This is the only time i activate VPN.

HawkeyePierce
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by HawkeyePierce » Thu Jun 04, 2020 3:25 pm

sd323232 wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 2:35 pm
2015 wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:51 pm
xb7 wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:03 pm
This is a tricky topic, and I think it's good to look at it in the context of how --- and why --- you use a VPN.

...
This.
I looked into use of a VPN and I think you're just trading one risk (privacy) for another (VPN reliability).
One of the cases where VPN is a must is when you connect to public wifi (airport, starbucks, etc). Without VPN, they will steal all info on your phone.
This is the only time i activate VPN.
This isn't true at all. Nobody can steal info from your phone just because you connect to public wifi.

mrb09
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by mrb09 » Thu Jun 04, 2020 3:51 pm

https://ifconfig.me is a good website if you want to check your IP address. It is curl friendly with json output if you're into that kind of thing.

sd323232
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by sd323232 » Thu Jun 04, 2020 4:41 pm

HawkeyePierce wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 3:25 pm
sd323232 wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 2:35 pm
2015 wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:51 pm
xb7 wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:03 pm
This is a tricky topic, and I think it's good to look at it in the context of how --- and why --- you use a VPN.

...
This.
I looked into use of a VPN and I think you're just trading one risk (privacy) for another (VPN reliability).
One of the cases where VPN is a must is when you connect to public wifi (airport, starbucks, etc). Without VPN, they will steal all info on your phone.
This is the only time i activate VPN.
This isn't true at all. Nobody can steal info from your phone just because you connect to public wifi.
well, im not an expert, but here is from https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity- ... -wifi.html"

"One of the dangers of using a public Wi-Fi network is that data over this type of open connection is often unencrypted and unsecured, leaving you vulnerable to a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack. What is an MITM? It’s when a cybercriminal exploits a security flaw in the network to intercept data.

Essentially, this gives a hacker access to sniff out any information that passes between you and the websites you visit — details of browsing activities, account logins, and purchase transactions. Your sensitive information, such as passwords and financial data, are then vulnerable to identity theft."

im not trying to prove anything, but please explain why public wifi is very secure?

Topic Author
nordsteve
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by nordsteve » Thu Jun 04, 2020 4:49 pm

Unsecured HTTP sessions are vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks whether or not you use a VPN. It just moves the problem to a different place in the network.

HawkeyePierce
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by HawkeyePierce » Thu Jun 04, 2020 4:51 pm

sd323232 wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 4:41 pm
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 3:25 pm
sd323232 wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 2:35 pm
2015 wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:51 pm
xb7 wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:03 pm
This is a tricky topic, and I think it's good to look at it in the context of how --- and why --- you use a VPN.

...
This.
I looked into use of a VPN and I think you're just trading one risk (privacy) for another (VPN reliability).
One of the cases where VPN is a must is when you connect to public wifi (airport, starbucks, etc). Without VPN, they will steal all info on your phone.
This is the only time i activate VPN.
This isn't true at all. Nobody can steal info from your phone just because you connect to public wifi.
well, im not an expert, but here is from https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity- ... -wifi.html"

"One of the dangers of using a public Wi-Fi network is that data over this type of open connection is often unencrypted and unsecured, leaving you vulnerable to a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack. What is an MITM? It’s when a cybercriminal exploits a security flaw in the network to intercept data.

Essentially, this gives a hacker access to sniff out any information that passes between you and the websites you visit — details of browsing activities, account logins, and purchase transactions. Your sensitive information, such as passwords and financial data, are then vulnerable to identity theft."

im not trying to prove anything, but please explain why public wifi is very secure?
1) Using public Wifi does not allow an attacker to steal information from your phone. That's different than a MITM attack. Nobody is reaching into your phone to slurp info off it.

2) As nordsteve said, using insecure HTTP over a VPN still opens you to MITM attacks by the VPN provider.

3) Norton wants to sell you their VPN service. Never ask a barber if you need a haircut.

Topic Author
nordsteve
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by nordsteve » Thu Jun 04, 2020 5:02 pm

Any service that still uses insecure http to connect is fundamentally broken. I currently have about 80 HTTP connections open on the machine where I am typing this message. 77 are secure and 3 are insecure, all ad network connections related to reading an article on a web site.

Coffee shop wifi is very low on the list of computer security risks that I'm concerned about.

sd323232
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by sd323232 » Sat Jun 06, 2020 5:02 am

nordsteve wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 5:02 pm
Any service that still uses insecure http to connect is fundamentally broken. I currently have about 80 HTTP connections open on the machine where I am typing this message. 77 are secure and 3 are insecure, all ad network connections related to reading an article on a web site.

Coffee shop wifi is very low on the list of computer security risks that I'm concerned about.
im very interested in this topic, what is the best program that will identify all insecured connection on my computer? im little challenged when it comes to computer stuff lol

from what i understand, the real culprit are http websites, is there a way to block browser when it tries to open http page? im using firefox

MKGhandi
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Re: Picking a VPN -- 2019

Post by MKGhandi » Mon Jun 29, 2020 4:34 pm

greetje wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:24 am
We go south as snowbirds for 5 months. Our apartment complex of 600 units has a public WI FI that is unsecured we connect to.
I do all our banking online. I assumed since all my banking and financial sites start with https: it is secure. But is it?
Do I need a VPN or something like that? I have a laptop with windows 10 vpn.

I also have a I Pad and tracfon smartphone that I connect through the same public unsecured WI FI but do not do anything financial on those.
Do not do that, If someone hacked you nothing can save your financial assets, no antivirus nor a vpn.

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