Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

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dodgy55
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Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by dodgy55 » Thu May 07, 2020 4:18 pm

Received an email from the folks at McAfee offering free vpn service. A casual internet search indicates I would be better off going with a fee for service vpn provider. While I am comfortable using a computer I still hesitate installing or dealing with any new software. Can someone advise me as to the degree to which a vpn will complicate my life or improve the quality of my internet experience?
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lazydavid
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by lazydavid » Thu May 07, 2020 4:23 pm

The purpose of a VPN is not to improve your internet experience. With regards to a public service like the one provided by McAfee and others (as opposed to provided by your employer), there are two main use cases:

1) To protect the security and privacy of your traffic when you do not trust the network you are connected to. You might be concerned about traffic sniffing or MITM attacks while on a public wifi network, or about your ISP tracking your behavior.
2) To make your traffic appear to come from a different location, to get around geolocation restrictions.

If you do not need to do either of those things, you do not need a VPN service.

dcabler
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by dcabler » Thu May 07, 2020 4:27 pm

Why do you want a VPN?

I use VPN now that I'm working from home, but that's through my work and the only way I have access to everything internal to the company. For my personal use, I also use VPN when I travel for extra security on wifi networks that I don't control. For that, I only pay month to month when I need it and use NordVPN. Some people like to connect at coffee shops, etc., so they like always have VPN available. There are people out there who use VPN to connect to services in other countries for various reasons such a video streaming. And there are people who want absolutely all of their traffic from their home usage encrypted, which VPN can provide. Others are content with the encryption that https offers when you connect to your bank, investment account, etc. and see no need for anything beyond that.

User experience? Depending on the VPN service, there may be a slight slowdown in your data rate due to the encryption/decryption overhead, but how much really depends on your service and your non-VPN data rate. But a good user experience is not what VPN is all about - it's about security since all data traffic is encrypted.

Cheers.

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yangtui
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by yangtui » Thu May 07, 2020 4:29 pm

Do you travel a lot and utilize questionable wifi networks? If you are going to get it to browse the internet from a trusted connection you will probably be worse off.

TheDDC
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by TheDDC » Thu May 07, 2020 5:00 pm

Okay, network engineer here. I will dispel the VPN hype. You really don’t need one. The commercials for VPN are mostly unicorn farts.

Here’s why:

1. A VPN does not stop malware and spyware from infecting your machine while connected. This is still the number one attack vector as well as the number one method of data loss. As long as you have spyware on your machine a VPN is entirely pointless.

2. False sense of security. A VPN does not prevent anyone on the remote end of your “tunnel” from inspecting your traffic. It just pushes the interception point further upstream. You should ALWAYS ALWAYS make sure you are connecting to https sites with a padlock icon in your web browser. That’s the easiest way to stop anyone from intercepting your traffic. In 2020, basically site that matters (including BH) is ssl encrypted, by the way.

3. Less important, but depending on the VPN infrastructure and your system, you will kill your network performance unnecessarily.

4. A VPN does not stop browsers from tracking you. To do this you would still need to police cookies which can also contain GPS-based location data.

I have access to numerous VPNs that I personally have managed and configured myself. I only use those VPNs when I need to access resources on the other end of them. Some are “split horizon” and some are “tunnel all”. These paid VPNs are tunnel all, so you are literally sending every last bit of your through to someone else’s data center you have no control over in hopes that they are doing something different then your internet provider. Yes, you even pay them for the privilege.

Strong anti-malware checking and removal by FREE or low cost utilities out there is vital. Leave the VPN behind and think local.

-TheDDC
Rules to wealth building: 90-100% VTSAX piled high and deep, 0-10% VIGAX tilt, 0% given away to banks, minimize amount given to medical-industrial complex

indexinvestor101
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by indexinvestor101 » Thu May 07, 2020 5:14 pm

1. your ISP tracks your entire web traffic(sites/dns) and sells them to advertisers. VPN will make sure that your ISP cannot track you.
2. when you goto websites from a common IP address like what a VPN offers, it povides a bit of anonymity (clearing cookies,not logging into sites are other measures to be taken to be effective). even with all that, sites can fingerprint you (with your os/screenresolution/fonts etc available to them)
3)using a browser like 'brave' is a must if you do not want trackers in each site to follow you in the interwebs.

combination of all can provide some level of anonymity.

HawkeyePierce
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by HawkeyePierce » Thu May 07, 2020 5:19 pm

TheDDC wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 5:00 pm
Okay, network engineer here. I will dispel the VPN hype. You really don’t need one. The commercials for VPN are mostly unicorn farts.

Here’s why:

1. A VPN does not stop malware and spyware from infecting your machine while connected. This is still the number one attack vector as well as the number one method of data loss. As long as you have spyware on your machine a VPN is entirely pointless.

2. False sense of security. A VPN does not prevent anyone on the remote end of your “tunnel” from inspecting your traffic. It just pushes the interception point further upstream. You should ALWAYS ALWAYS make sure you are connecting to https sites with a padlock icon in your web browser. That’s the easiest way to stop anyone from intercepting your traffic. In 2020, basically site that matters (including BH) is ssl encrypted, by the way.

3. Less important, but depending on the VPN infrastructure and your system, you will kill your network performance unnecessarily.

4. A VPN does not stop browsers from tracking you. To do this you would still need to police cookies which can also contain GPS-based location data.

I have access to numerous VPNs that I personally have managed and configured myself. I only use those VPNs when I need to access resources on the other end of them. Some are “split horizon” and some are “tunnel all”. These paid VPNs are tunnel all, so you are literally sending every last bit of your through to someone else’s data center you have no control over in hopes that they are doing something different then your internet provider. Yes, you even pay them for the privilege.

Strong anti-malware checking and removal by FREE or low cost utilities out there is vital. Leave the VPN behind and think local.

-TheDDC
THANK YOU. VPNs are snake oil for the vast majority of users and, for most users, MORE of a risk than not using one.

MathWizard
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by MathWizard » Thu May 07, 2020 5:26 pm

Unless you need to use a VPN because your company requires it, I would not use one.

The case for a VPN is when you need to look like you are on your company's campus.
Most VPNs that you will use are split-tunnel, which means that you can access certain
site via the VPN, and others directly (not through the VPN.)

Really secure sites use non-split tunnel VPNs.
This means that while on the VPN, you can only access through the VPN. If you VPN to work,
and your work internet blocks Bogleheads.org, then when logged onto the VPN, you could not
connect to Bogleheads.org , just like at work.
This satisfies a requirement that when working on your companies network, you cannot be connected to
any other network.
I might argue that this is not a great deal of protection, since your computer is a potential
vulnerability unless the connection to the VPN resulted in a foolproof scan of your computer for malware
every time you connected.
However, compliance audits are about what boxes get checked, not whether the box makes any sense.

Yes, my group configures and runs VPNs, among other things.

montanagirl
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by montanagirl » Thu May 07, 2020 5:33 pm

I have Nord VPN running on two phones and it seems to be interfering with page loading recently. I am constantly having to pause VPN so that a site will load.

Not sure what that's about.

dcabler
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by dcabler » Thu May 07, 2020 5:57 pm

montanagirl wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 5:33 pm
I have Nord VPN running on two phones and it seems to be interfering with page loading recently. I am constantly having to pause VPN so that a site will load.

Not sure what that's about.
Happens a lot. Some sites will block traffic coming from certain ISP addresses that happen to be VPN. I've had issues with NordVPN and my outlook account, for example. NordVPN's website gives some points for some of these....

Longtermgrowth
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by Longtermgrowth » Thu May 07, 2020 6:39 pm

The free ones may connect you through a less than desireable location slowing you down more than necessary. Worth a try though since they're offering it to you.

If not worried about questionable WiFi, they can still be useful for things like P2P connection gaming (hackers and admins can see ISP), where you don't want your browsing tracked by ISP, or location shown to things you connect to.

Shoot, maybe you don't want to be part of a surprise "Where Bogleheads Live" location survey from listening to a podcast: viewtopic.php?t=290649#p4752761

kevinf
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by kevinf » Thu May 07, 2020 7:30 pm

TheDDC wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 5:00 pm
1. A VPN does not stop malware and spyware from infecting your machine while connected. This is still the number one attack vector as well as the number one method of data loss. As long as you have spyware on your machine a VPN is entirely pointless.
NordVPN has a "CyberSec" feature that does server side ad and malware site filtering:
https://nordvpn.com/features/cybersec/
TheDDC wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 5:00 pm
3. Less important, but depending on the VPN infrastructure and your system, you will kill your network performance unnecessarily.
NordVPN has also moved to WireGaurd VPN protocol which is current and much faster than the prior OPENVPN protocol:
https://nordvpn.com/blog/nordlynx-protocol-wireguard/

This thread is generally accurate, unless you have a specific use-case for a VPN it is generally going to be something else that can cause problems.

Trader Joe
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by Trader Joe » Thu May 07, 2020 7:32 pm

dodgy55 wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 4:18 pm
Received an email from the folks at McAfee offering free vpn service. A casual internet search indicates I would be better off going with a fee for service vpn provider. While I am comfortable using a computer I still hesitate installing or dealing with any new software. Can someone advise me as to the degree to which a vpn will complicate my life or improve the quality of my internet experience?
No, a VPN will not improve your internet experience.

HawkeyePierce
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by HawkeyePierce » Thu May 07, 2020 7:38 pm

kevinf wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 7:30 pm
TheDDC wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 5:00 pm
1. A VPN does not stop malware and spyware from infecting your machine while connected. This is still the number one attack vector as well as the number one method of data loss. As long as you have spyware on your machine a VPN is entirely pointless.
NordVPN has a "CyberSec" feature that does server side ad and malware site filtering:
https://nordvpn.com/features/cybersec/
You could just run uBlock Origin and get the same thing without the risks of using a VPN.

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southerndoc
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by southerndoc » Fri May 08, 2020 1:51 am

TheDDC wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 5:00 pm
Okay, network engineer here. I will dispel the VPN hype. You really don’t need one. The commercials for VPN are mostly unicorn farts.

Here’s why:

1. A VPN does not stop malware and spyware from infecting your machine while connected. This is still the number one attack vector as well as the number one method of data loss. As long as you have spyware on your machine a VPN is entirely pointless.

2. False sense of security. A VPN does not prevent anyone on the remote end of your “tunnel” from inspecting your traffic. It just pushes the interception point further upstream. You should ALWAYS ALWAYS make sure you are connecting to https sites with a padlock icon in your web browser. That’s the easiest way to stop anyone from intercepting your traffic. In 2020, basically site that matters (including BH) is ssl encrypted, by the way.

3. Less important, but depending on the VPN infrastructure and your system, you will kill your network performance unnecessarily.

4. A VPN does not stop browsers from tracking you. To do this you would still need to police cookies which can also contain GPS-based location data.

I have access to numerous VPNs that I personally have managed and configured myself. I only use those VPNs when I need to access resources on the other end of them. Some are “split horizon” and some are “tunnel all”. These paid VPNs are tunnel all, so you are literally sending every last bit of your through to someone else’s data center you have no control over in hopes that they are doing something different then your internet provider. Yes, you even pay them for the privilege.

Strong anti-malware checking and removal by FREE or low cost utilities out there is vital. Leave the VPN behind and think local.

-TheDDC
Are VPN's also pointless when connecting to public WiFi hotspots? I thought they had some benefit there?

I mainly use a VPN set up on my pfSense server to connect to my home network, but I always connect to it when I'm on a public WiFi network (I use OpenVPN).

The network performance definitely takes a hit.

Cruise
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by Cruise » Fri May 08, 2020 4:03 am

dodgy55 wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 4:18 pm
Received an email from the folks at McAfee offering free vpn service. A casual internet search indicates I would be better off going with a fee for service vpn provider. While I am comfortable using a computer I still hesitate installing or dealing with any new software. Can someone advise me as to the degree to which a vpn will complicate my life or improve the quality of my internet experience?
I’m not a VPN expert, but I can answer your questions from my own experience. I am using TunnelBear, which you can Google and find some excellent reviews regarding independent security audits. Now, with respect to your questions:

Turning on the VPN has restricted access to some sites. This does not happen often, and if it is a site I need, I just turn TunnelBear off with a single click. That has been the only perceived downside I’ve noticed.

I’ve not noticed any improved internet experience. However, if one believes that a VPN blocks snooping and bad behavior of the snoopers, one would never know what malevolent behavior was prevented.

ScubaHogg
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by ScubaHogg » Fri May 08, 2020 6:20 am

TheDDC wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 5:00 pm
Okay, network engineer here. I will dispel the VPN hype. You really don’t need one. The commercials for VPN are mostly unicorn farts.

Here’s why:

1. A VPN does not stop malware and spyware from infecting your machine while connected. This is still the number one attack vector as well as the number one method of data loss. As long as you have spyware on your machine a VPN is entirely pointless.
-TheDDC
This seems like saying don’t lock your house because more people have their car broken into than their house
“There is no problem so bad you can’t make it worse.” - Chris Hatfield, Astronaut mantra

SimonJester
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by SimonJester » Fri May 08, 2020 2:47 pm

ScubaHogg wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 6:20 am
TheDDC wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 5:00 pm
Okay, network engineer here. I will dispel the VPN hype. You really don’t need one. The commercials for VPN are mostly unicorn farts.

Here’s why:

1. A VPN does not stop malware and spyware from infecting your machine while connected. This is still the number one attack vector as well as the number one method of data loss. As long as you have spyware on your machine a VPN is entirely pointless.
-TheDDC
This seems like saying don’t lock your house because more people have their car broken into than their house
A VPN does not lock your house, it simply pushes the entry door further down the street, you still have to lock the door yourself.
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

HawkeyePierce
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by HawkeyePierce » Fri May 08, 2020 3:37 pm

southerndoc wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 1:51 am
TheDDC wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 5:00 pm
Okay, network engineer here. I will dispel the VPN hype. You really don’t need one. The commercials for VPN are mostly unicorn farts.

Here’s why:

1. A VPN does not stop malware and spyware from infecting your machine while connected. This is still the number one attack vector as well as the number one method of data loss. As long as you have spyware on your machine a VPN is entirely pointless.

2. False sense of security. A VPN does not prevent anyone on the remote end of your “tunnel” from inspecting your traffic. It just pushes the interception point further upstream. You should ALWAYS ALWAYS make sure you are connecting to https sites with a padlock icon in your web browser. That’s the easiest way to stop anyone from intercepting your traffic. In 2020, basically site that matters (including BH) is ssl encrypted, by the way.

3. Less important, but depending on the VPN infrastructure and your system, you will kill your network performance unnecessarily.

4. A VPN does not stop browsers from tracking you. To do this you would still need to police cookies which can also contain GPS-based location data.

I have access to numerous VPNs that I personally have managed and configured myself. I only use those VPNs when I need to access resources on the other end of them. Some are “split horizon” and some are “tunnel all”. These paid VPNs are tunnel all, so you are literally sending every last bit of your through to someone else’s data center you have no control over in hopes that they are doing something different then your internet provider. Yes, you even pay them for the privilege.

Strong anti-malware checking and removal by FREE or low cost utilities out there is vital. Leave the VPN behind and think local.

-TheDDC
Are VPN's also pointless when connecting to public WiFi hotspots? I thought they had some benefit there?

I mainly use a VPN set up on my pfSense server to connect to my home network, but I always connect to it when I'm on a public WiFi network (I use OpenVPN).

The network performance definitely takes a hit.
Yes, still pointless. HTTPS already does what people think they need from a VPN in that environment.

TheDDC
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by TheDDC » Fri May 08, 2020 5:11 pm

ScubaHogg wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 6:20 am
TheDDC wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 5:00 pm
Okay, network engineer here. I will dispel the VPN hype. You really don’t need one. The commercials for VPN are mostly unicorn farts.

Here’s why:

1. A VPN does not stop malware and spyware from infecting your machine while connected. This is still the number one attack vector as well as the number one method of data loss. As long as you have spyware on your machine a VPN is entirely pointless.
-TheDDC
This seems like saying don’t lock your house because more people have their car broken into than their house
I would not liken a VPN to a lock. It's more like an underground tunnel from your home with impenetrable walls leading to an intended destination, but at one end of that tunnel will always be the same locked door to your basement with the same locks that can be picked, the same door that can be smashed in, etc.

-TheDDC
Rules to wealth building: 90-100% VTSAX piled high and deep, 0-10% VIGAX tilt, 0% given away to banks, minimize amount given to medical-industrial complex

TheDDC
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by TheDDC » Fri May 08, 2020 5:21 pm

southerndoc wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 1:51 am
Are VPN's also pointless when connecting to public WiFi hotspots? I thought they had some benefit there?

I mainly use a VPN set up on my pfSense server to connect to my home network, but I always connect to it when I'm on a public WiFi network (I use OpenVPN).

The network performance definitely takes a hit.
Right now, WiFi is mostly inherently deficient in securing any kind of communication between your device and the wireless access point itself, which is really what we're after here. The rest of the wired infrastructure "behind the wall" is still prone to interception whether you are connecting through the last mile via wired or wireless. The WPA2 cipher suite has already been hacked, though compromising the WPA keys still requires quite a bit of sophistication to pull off. Like most things, hackers are human and still choose the path of least resistance and minimal amount of setup. Your average "script kiddie" type hacker will not be attempting to decrypt wireless traffic to hack your data. What they will most likely be doing is deploying a stingray type device where you connect to an open SSID that you believe looks legit OR they will be sniffing traffic on a legit SSID via other means. Even those things take effort.

Bottom line is you can still protect yourself from ALL of the above scenarios by only connecting to sites with HTTPS (padlock) over ANY kind of wireless or wired connection. If you ever get an "invalid certificate" message when connecting to a site, do not connect to the site. That is indicative of a "man in the middle" attack. Clicking through those invalid certificate warnings and continuing to input your sensitive information is "STRANGER DANGER" territory.

-TheDDC
Rules to wealth building: 90-100% VTSAX piled high and deep, 0-10% VIGAX tilt, 0% given away to banks, minimize amount given to medical-industrial complex

ScubaHogg
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by ScubaHogg » Fri May 08, 2020 5:26 pm

SimonJester wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 2:47 pm
ScubaHogg wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 6:20 am
TheDDC wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 5:00 pm
Okay, network engineer here. I will dispel the VPN hype. You really don’t need one. The commercials for VPN are mostly unicorn farts.

Here’s why:

1. A VPN does not stop malware and spyware from infecting your machine while connected. This is still the number one attack vector as well as the number one method of data loss. As long as you have spyware on your machine a VPN is entirely pointless.
-TheDDC
This seems like saying don’t lock your house because more people have their car broken into than their house
A VPN does not lock your house, it simply pushes the entry door further down the street, you still have to lock the door yourself.
My point is that an objection that something doesn't do *everything* isn't really an objection at all. "Don't use a VPN because spyware is also a problem" doesn't have a ton of logic behind it. It's similar to the, "don't wear a mask because it isn't perfect" objection.
“There is no problem so bad you can’t make it worse.” - Chris Hatfield, Astronaut mantra

ScubaHogg
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by ScubaHogg » Fri May 08, 2020 5:27 pm

TheDDC wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 5:11 pm
ScubaHogg wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 6:20 am
TheDDC wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 5:00 pm
Okay, network engineer here. I will dispel the VPN hype. You really don’t need one. The commercials for VPN are mostly unicorn farts.

Here’s why:

1. A VPN does not stop malware and spyware from infecting your machine while connected. This is still the number one attack vector as well as the number one method of data loss. As long as you have spyware on your machine a VPN is entirely pointless.
-TheDDC
This seems like saying don’t lock your house because more people have their car broken into than their house
I would not liken a VPN to a lock. It's more like an underground tunnel from your home with impenetrable walls leading to an intended destination, but at one end of that tunnel will always be the same locked door to your basement with the same locks that can be picked, the same door that can be smashed in, etc.

-TheDDC
My point is that an objection that something doesn't do *everything* isn't really an objection at all. "Don't use a VPN because spyware is also a problem" doesn't have a ton of logic behind it. It's similar to the, "don't wear a mask because it isn't perfect" objection.
“There is no problem so bad you can’t make it worse.” - Chris Hatfield, Astronaut mantra

HawkeyePierce
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by HawkeyePierce » Fri May 08, 2020 5:28 pm

TheDDC's point is that a VPN gives users a false sense of security and doesn't address real threats.

TheDDC
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by TheDDC » Fri May 08, 2020 6:22 pm

HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 5:28 pm
TheDDC's point is that a VPN gives users a false sense of security and doesn't address real threats.
Yes. Well that’s one point. The second point is that a commercial VPN sold to the masses is mostly all hype and offers no real additional security to 95% of the worlds population as in nearly all of their daily routines. If you are that paranoid about your ISP capturing your data for retail purposes, do you really think the VPN provider isn’t doing the same? Remember that the VPN provider is effectively taking the place of the ISP in a “tunnel all” configuration.

-TheDDC
Rules to wealth building: 90-100% VTSAX piled high and deep, 0-10% VIGAX tilt, 0% given away to banks, minimize amount given to medical-industrial complex

2babogle
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by 2babogle » Fri May 08, 2020 6:45 pm

Ok. I'll bite.
There are reasons for a VPN just like there are reasons for an SPIA. The hype that sells VPNs is the same hype that sells whole life and 42 American funds in a brokerage account. If you don't understand it, how and when to use it, and how to use it effectively, you're likely wasting money. This is not the ideal forum for tech advice. I will add that going to NordVpn's website for VPN reasons is like going to EJ for finance advice.

ScubaHogg
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by ScubaHogg » Fri May 08, 2020 9:17 pm

HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 5:28 pm
TheDDC's point is that a VPN gives users a false sense of security and doesn't address real threats.
It’s a real threat if you are on a public WiFi network. The “false sense of security” is such a boogeyman. Do you wear a seatbelt in a car? Doesn’t that give you a “false sense of security”?
“There is no problem so bad you can’t make it worse.” - Chris Hatfield, Astronaut mantra

HawkeyePierce
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by HawkeyePierce » Fri May 08, 2020 9:27 pm

ScubaHogg wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:17 pm
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 5:28 pm
TheDDC's point is that a VPN gives users a false sense of security and doesn't address real threats.
It’s a real threat if you are on a public WiFi network. The “false sense of security” is such a boogeyman. Do you wear a seatbelt in a car? Doesn’t that give you a “false sense of security”?
What threats?

I'll save you the time: they don't exist. The dangers of public WiFi are massively overhyped. HTTPS gives you everything you think you need from a VPN without the risks that come from trusting a VPN provider.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/01/w ... -you-think

HEDGEFUNDIE
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Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Fri May 08, 2020 9:39 pm

HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:27 pm
ScubaHogg wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:17 pm
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 5:28 pm
TheDDC's point is that a VPN gives users a false sense of security and doesn't address real threats.
It’s a real threat if you are on a public WiFi network. The “false sense of security” is such a boogeyman. Do you wear a seatbelt in a car? Doesn’t that give you a “false sense of security”?
What threats?

I'll save you the time: they don't exist. The dangers of public WiFi are massively overhyped. HTTPS gives you everything you think you need from a VPN without the risks that come from trusting a VPN provider.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/01/w ... -you-think
I VPN into my own home router. Problem solved.

Clover5
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Feb 05, 2014 8:34 am

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by Clover5 » Fri May 08, 2020 10:21 pm

what he said! :thumbsup :thumbsup
TheDDC wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 5:00 pm
Okay, network engineer here. I will dispel the VPN hype. You really don’t need one. The commercials for VPN are mostly unicorn farts.

Here’s why:

1. A VPN does not stop malware and spyware from infecting your machine while connected. This is still the number one attack vector as well as the number one method of data loss. As long as you have spyware on your machine a VPN is entirely pointless.

2. False sense of security. A VPN does not prevent anyone on the remote end of your “tunnel” from inspecting your traffic. It just pushes the interception point further upstream. You should ALWAYS ALWAYS make sure you are connecting to https sites with a padlock icon in your web browser. That’s the easiest way to stop anyone from intercepting your traffic. In 2020, basically site that matters (including BH) is ssl encrypted, by the way.

3. Less important, but depending on the VPN infrastructure and your system, you will kill your network performance unnecessarily.

4. A VPN does not stop browsers from tracking you. To do this you would still need to police cookies which can also contain GPS-based location data.

I have access to numerous VPNs that I personally have managed and configured myself. I only use those VPNs when I need to access resources on the other end of them. Some are “split horizon” and some are “tunnel all”. These paid VPNs are tunnel all, so you are literally sending every last bit of your through to someone else’s data center you have no control over in hopes that they are doing something different then your internet provider. Yes, you even pay them for the privilege.

Strong anti-malware checking and removal by FREE or low cost utilities out there is vital. Leave the VPN behind and think local.

-TheDDC

ARoseByAnyOtherName
Posts: 1000
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:03 am

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by ARoseByAnyOtherName » Fri May 08, 2020 10:55 pm

dodgy55 wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 4:18 pm
Received an email from the folks at McAfee offering free vpn service. A casual internet search indicates I would be better off going with a fee for service vpn provider. While I am comfortable using a computer I still hesitate installing or dealing with any new software. Can someone advise me as to the degree to which a vpn will complicate my life or improve the quality of my internet experience?
What goal are you trying to achieve by using a VPN?

TheDDC
Posts: 1035
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:11 am

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by TheDDC » Fri May 08, 2020 11:09 pm

ScubaHogg wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:17 pm
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 5:28 pm
TheDDC's point is that a VPN gives users a false sense of security and doesn't address real threats.
It’s a real threat if you are on a public WiFi network. The “false sense of security” is such a boogeyman. Do you wear a seatbelt in a car? Doesn’t that give you a “false sense of security”?
Except the real threat isn’t NOT using a VPN in your scenario. It’s NOT using encryption. To put a finer point on it, I’ll say that it’s NOT using encryption specifically on sites that require authentication credentials. SSL encryption on sites is really the only protection you need in addition to a good anti-malware checker. It’s not even a case of a VPN being a “belt and suspenders”. It’s mostly a waste of CPU and financial resources unless, again, you are among the few who need it to perform essential daily tasks. But suit yourself. Anyone is free to blow their money on anything. Lots of people like paying their guy at Edward Jones, too. My guy at Ameriprise gave me free Cokes.

And yes I regularly VPNed into my home network when I was in the office, but that’s a split tunnel in which only select traffic gets routed through the VPN as needed, not the whole shebang.

-TheDDC
Rules to wealth building: 90-100% VTSAX piled high and deep, 0-10% VIGAX tilt, 0% given away to banks, minimize amount given to medical-industrial complex

shess
Posts: 519
Joined: Wed May 17, 2017 12:02 am

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by shess » Fri May 08, 2020 11:47 pm

dodgy55 wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 4:18 pm
Received an email from the folks at McAfee offering free vpn service.
You got a lot of responses on whether you want a VPN in general, my response is that you should not install any security product from McAfee. I've had multiple family members come to me to fix their busted ass computers, and have the problem come down to a McAfee security product which was screwing everything up. One time I had to download a de-installer from the McAffee site OVER HTTP (!!!) to uninstall it. {{If that had been my computer, I'd have reinstalled at that point, but it was a teenager so they'd be installing new malware in a week anyhow.}}

Also, more generally, a lot of VPN providers are dodgy, even the "name brand" ones. Think of the security problems Zoom has been having, except applied to everything you do. It's very hard to vet what they're doing with your information, and ending up with a VPN from a country with dodgy rules isn't going to help you in any way. Better to focus on making sure everything is using https, and trimming any unnecessary services from your devices.

RetiredAL
Posts: 816
Joined: Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:09 am
Location: SF Bay Area

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by RetiredAL » Sat May 09, 2020 12:41 am

TheDDC wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 11:09 pm


Except the real threat isn’t NOT using a VPN in your scenario. It’s NOT using encryption.

-TheDDC
+100

There was a time when few sites/connections used encryption. Today, most sites/connections use encryption. And for those that don't, well you should be asking yourself what am I doing here?

ARoseByAnyOtherName
Posts: 1000
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:03 am

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by ARoseByAnyOtherName » Sat May 09, 2020 10:39 am

HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:39 pm
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:27 pm
ScubaHogg wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:17 pm
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 5:28 pm
TheDDC's point is that a VPN gives users a false sense of security and doesn't address real threats.
It’s a real threat if you are on a public WiFi network. The “false sense of security” is such a boogeyman. Do you wear a seatbelt in a car? Doesn’t that give you a “false sense of security”?
What threats?

I'll save you the time: they don't exist. The dangers of public WiFi are massively overhyped. HTTPS gives you everything you think you need from a VPN without the risks that come from trusting a VPN provider.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/01/w ... -you-think
I VPN into my own home router. Problem solved.
What are you protecting against by doing this?

HEDGEFUNDIE
Posts: 4801
Joined: Sun Oct 22, 2017 2:06 pm

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Sat May 09, 2020 10:53 am

ARoseByAnyOtherName wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 10:39 am
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:39 pm
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:27 pm
ScubaHogg wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:17 pm
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 5:28 pm
TheDDC's point is that a VPN gives users a false sense of security and doesn't address real threats.
It’s a real threat if you are on a public WiFi network. The “false sense of security” is such a boogeyman. Do you wear a seatbelt in a car? Doesn’t that give you a “false sense of security”?
What threats?

I'll save you the time: they don't exist. The dangers of public WiFi are massively overhyped. HTTPS gives you everything you think you need from a VPN without the risks that come from trusting a VPN provider.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/01/w ... -you-think
I VPN into my own home router. Problem solved.
What are you protecting against by doing this?
Encryption for all my data packets, not just http

ARoseByAnyOtherName
Posts: 1000
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:03 am

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by ARoseByAnyOtherName » Sat May 09, 2020 11:03 am

HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 10:53 am
ARoseByAnyOtherName wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 10:39 am
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:39 pm
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:27 pm
ScubaHogg wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:17 pm


It’s a real threat if you are on a public WiFi network. The “false sense of security” is such a boogeyman. Do you wear a seatbelt in a car? Doesn’t that give you a “false sense of security”?
What threats?

I'll save you the time: they don't exist. The dangers of public WiFi are massively overhyped. HTTPS gives you everything you think you need from a VPN without the risks that come from trusting a VPN provider.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/01/w ... -you-think
I VPN into my own home router. Problem solved.
What are you protecting against by doing this?
Encryption for all my data packets, not just http
Two points:

1) That doesn't answer my question unfortunately. Let me phrase this differently. What are you gaining by encryption for all your data packets, what is your goal in doing that?

2) This actually isn't entirely true. If your VPN is terminated at your home router then all your data packets are only encrypted from your laptop to your home router. Then, from there they would go back out to your ISP unencrypted.

This is why #1 is important. Depending on the answer to #1, point #2 may be irrelevant. Or, it could be catastrophic.

HEDGEFUNDIE
Posts: 4801
Joined: Sun Oct 22, 2017 2:06 pm

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Sat May 09, 2020 11:13 am

ARoseByAnyOtherName wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 11:03 am
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 10:53 am
ARoseByAnyOtherName wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 10:39 am
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:39 pm
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:27 pm


What threats?

I'll save you the time: they don't exist. The dangers of public WiFi are massively overhyped. HTTPS gives you everything you think you need from a VPN without the risks that come from trusting a VPN provider.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/01/w ... -you-think
I VPN into my own home router. Problem solved.
What are you protecting against by doing this?
Encryption for all my data packets, not just http
Two points:

1) That doesn't answer my question unfortunately. Let me phrase this differently. What are you gaining by encryption for all your data packets, what is your goal in doing that?

2) This actually isn't entirely true. If your VPN is terminated at your home router then all your data packets are only encrypted from your laptop to your home router. Then, from there they would go back out to your ISP unencrypted.

This is why #1 is important. Depending on the answer to #1, point #2 may be irrelevant. Or, it could be catastrophic.
1) I would prefer my emails sent through SMTP not to be read by anyone else, but hey maybe that's just a personal preference.

2) If I could afford a data link layer VPN to my ISP I would do it. Network layer will have to suffice for now.

lazydavid
Posts: 3145
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:37 pm

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by lazydavid » Sat May 09, 2020 11:17 am

HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 11:13 am
1) I would prefer my emails sent through SMTP not to be read by anyone else, but hey maybe that's just a personal preference.

2) If I could afford a data link layer VPN to my ISP I would do it. Network layer will have to suffice for now.
Unless you are sending emails from yourself on your laptop to yourself on an email server in your house, this does not solve your problem. Because when it hairpins back out your router, the data is still unencrypted. Plus, who uses unencrypted SMTP anymore?

beastykato
Posts: 134
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2009 8:59 pm

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by beastykato » Sat May 09, 2020 11:54 am

I thought I understood VPN's, but perhaps not?

I was aware of the risks of using a VPN and that it wasn't entirely secure. For instance, the VPN provider themselves storing and leaking your data either for profit or if their own network is breached.

My only two cares for using it are:

1.) To hide/alter my location.

I assume this works accurately as I've been able to defeat certain video providers I subscribe to from blocking me while traveling. Some of these providers like Hulu, Netflix, etc. seem to want the blood of your firstborn to verify your location to watch your favorite show.

2.) To hide my information from my ISP.

I know my ISP collects and sells information and I also don't think it's any of their business what I'm doing on my connection. It was my understanding that my information is at least hidden from them even it the data eventually is vulnerable at a later point. Is that correct?

ARoseByAnyOtherName
Posts: 1000
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:03 am

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by ARoseByAnyOtherName » Sat May 09, 2020 12:00 pm

lazydavid wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 11:17 am
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 11:13 am
1) I would prefer my emails sent through SMTP not to be read by anyone else, but hey maybe that's just a personal preference.

2) If I could afford a data link layer VPN to my ISP I would do it. Network layer will have to suffice for now.
Unless you are sending emails from yourself on your laptop to yourself on an email server in your house, this does not solve your problem. Because when it hairpins back out your router, the data is still unencrypted. Plus, who uses unencrypted SMTP anymore?
lazydavid is right on, and proving to not be very lazy :happy

Walking through the two main ways folks send email from laptops nowadays:

1) Webmail. The emails you send aren't sent to your email provider via SMTP in this case. (Once they get to your email provider they are sent using SMTP.) The connection from your browser to the webmail provider will definitely be encrypted via SSL/TLS nowadays, a VPN isn't needed for encryption. Indeed, the VPN is redundant here and will only serve to reduce performance and slow down your webmail your data has to round-trip through your home internet connection.

2) Local email client like Outlook. Yes, when you send an email using Outlook on your local laptop it will connect to your email provider's server using SMTP. However, virtually all email providers (and corporate servers) require encrypted SMTP nowadays. I know for a fact that Gmail does. So your email is sent encrypted using SSL/TLS very similar to secure browsing sessions.

So, it's almost certain that even if you didn't use a VPN others still cannot read your emails sent via SMTP. They will be encrypted.


Stepping back, my point here is not to pick on HEDGEFUNDIE but more to illustrate a broader point, which is that people should really be clear on what they are trying to do before using VPNs (or any other piece of technology really).

I am personally biased against the personal use of VPNs. I don't use one because I haven't been able to figure out a realistic attack against me that would be mitigated by using one, nor have I been able to figure out any other benefit that would outweight the downsides.

There are real downsides of VPN. Mainly that use of a full-tunnel VPN routes all your traffic through a single server, which often will slow down your internet access and make for a worse browsing experience. Also, that single VPN server is another link in the chain - it's one more thing you have to trust.

None of these downsides are fatal in all cases. But they are downsides just the same, and to me, there need to be offsetting significant benefits to get me to use a personal VPN. I haven't found them yet.

Finally (and I will admit this is a strawman argument) if people have to choose one or the other I would much rather have everyone pay for a reputable password manager first, and use it to change all their account passwords to long unique strings of random characters, before even thinking about using a personal VPN. We'd all be better off that way.

TheDDC
Posts: 1035
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:11 am

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by TheDDC » Sat May 09, 2020 12:09 pm

HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 11:13 am
ARoseByAnyOtherName wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 11:03 am
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 10:53 am
ARoseByAnyOtherName wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 10:39 am
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:39 pm


I VPN into my own home router. Problem solved.
What are you protecting against by doing this?
Encryption for all my data packets, not just http
Two points:

1) That doesn't answer my question unfortunately. Let me phrase this differently. What are you gaining by encryption for all your data packets, what is your goal in doing that?

2) This actually isn't entirely true. If your VPN is terminated at your home router then all your data packets are only encrypted from your laptop to your home router. Then, from there they would go back out to your ISP unencrypted.

This is why #1 is important. Depending on the answer to #1, point #2 may be irrelevant. Or, it could be catastrophic.
1) I would prefer my emails sent through SMTP not to be read by anyone else, but hey maybe that's just a personal preference.

2) If I could afford a data link layer VPN to my ISP I would do it. Network layer will have to suffice for now.
Problem 1: Again, getting back to my prior analysis of encryption, why are you sending messages over SMTP and not SMTPS? This is usually accomplished by changing your e-mail program settings to enable SMTPS (SMTP over SSL, port 587 most likely) and enable SMTP authentication which would use your IMAP/POP3 username and password.

Problem 2: Define what you mean when you say a "data link layer VPN" to your ISP? VPN tunnels basically encapsulate frames inside of packets (think network layer). No ISP offers this, not even an enterprise (read multi $10k per month) provider. Are you talking encryption on the wire or a tunnel to your provider over layer 3? Physical link layer encryption could be accomplished if you controlled end to end connectivity (layer 1 or lambda). This is really not possible unless you yourself are the provider or are leasing colocation space with an NNI direct to a provider. I do this kind of thing every day for a living and I can tell you most fortune 500s don't even have "data link layer encryption (what I think you meant to say)" to their provider.

None of us has any idea what you want to accomplish here. Here is what you can do immediately to secure yourself for FREE:

- Make sure ALL protocols leaving your machine (SMTP, POP3, HTTP, FTP are the most common) are encrypted from yourself to the site you are connecting to. If you merely use a VPN and consider yourself "protected", you would be wrong in that assumption. Unencrypted traffic is still visible at the remote end of your VPN tunnel. That means EVERY ISP (not just yours) between your VPN provider and the remote site can see that traffic. If that VPN provider has a data center outside your geographic lopcation it will most likely transit between 3-4 ISPs after leaving theirs if they are located in the United States.

- Make sure you have up to date anti-malware protection with a product that may or may not offer a software-based firewall option better than the built-in Windows Firewall. This is the part worth spending money on, but I cannot stress enough that without this sort of protection you are still left vulnerable to 99% of the world's attacks on your data. Keystroke loggers have been around since the 1990s. I know because I installed one on a school computer back in the day. :) That is the most simple way of getting your data: intercepting your own keystrokes as you type them. That data can be leaked directly via your ISP connection or over a VPN tunnel.

- Another thing that I recommend is using a free DNS-based solution like quad9 or Cisco Umbrella instead of your ISP's DNS. That would stop most "command and control" attacks.

-TheDDC
Rules to wealth building: 90-100% VTSAX piled high and deep, 0-10% VIGAX tilt, 0% given away to banks, minimize amount given to medical-industrial complex

HawkeyePierce
Posts: 1376
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 10:29 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by HawkeyePierce » Sat May 09, 2020 12:13 pm

beastykato wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 11:54 am
2.) To hide my information from my ISP.

I know my ISP collects and sells information and I also don't think it's any of their business what I'm doing on my connection. It was my understanding that my information is at least hidden from them even it the data eventually is vulnerable at a later point. Is that correct?
A VPN does hide metadata from your ISP but it's still exposed to the VPN provider.

I don't trust Comcast but I still trust them more than just about any VPN provider on the market. They're at least subject to regulations by the FTC/FCC and state regulators. With a VPN provider you're going on nothing more than blind trust. Many are based overseas where you have no legal recourse, or they're run by companies like McAffee and Norton who are no more trustworthy than an ISP.

ARoseByAnyOtherName
Posts: 1000
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:03 am

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by ARoseByAnyOtherName » Sat May 09, 2020 6:43 pm

beastykato wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 11:54 am
My only two cares for using it are:

1.) To hide/alter my location.

I assume this works accurately as I've been able to defeat certain video providers I subscribe to from blocking me while traveling. Some of these providers like Hulu, Netflix, etc. seem to want the blood of your firstborn to verify your location to watch your favorite show.
To me this is a reasonable use as you have a clear goal that the VPN achieves for you. For anyone using a VPN for this use case only I recommend disconnecting as soon as your video watching is over.
beastykato wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 11:54 am
2.) To hide my information from my ISP.

I know my ISP collects and sells information and I also don't think it's any of their business what I'm doing on my connection. It was my understanding that my information is at least hidden from them even it the data eventually is vulnerable at a later point. Is that correct?
Yes, a VPN protects your ISP from seeing some or all of your network traffic, depending on how it's configured.

But the VPN service itself can see all your network traffic. You are just trading one for another.

Who do you trust more, your ISP or your VPN provider?

Personally while ISPs in the US are known to do some questionable things, I generally prefer to route my traffic through them rather than (say) some 5-person VPN provider in another country.

But if you don't care what your VPN provider may or may not log, and you really want to protect against specifically your ISP seeing your network traffic, then sure this is a good use use.

index2max
Posts: 303
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2019 11:01 pm

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by index2max » Sat May 09, 2020 7:55 pm

Regular people use VPNs for four reasons from what I've noticed:

1. Browse or use websites that restrict or grant more access depending on your location (e.g. watching Canadian Broadcasting Service coverage of the olympics from within the US. By the way, if the Olympics in Tokyo are still on for this year, I highly recommend watching the CBC coverage as they spend less time on crap like "look at this American go!". Their coverage is more neutral).

2. Websites like Google won't know where you are coming from if they are only following your computer's IP address. There are other ways your computer can get fingerprinted and identified uniquely. One example is the screen resolution of your device, the web browser you are using, the types of chips your computer runs (Intel vs AMD) etc. Helps thwart the surveillance capitalism from Google and stuff so I like that part.

3. Encrypt your internet connection from your ISP. This way your ISP doesn't see what you browse. This is great if you're worried about your ISP knowing which websites you browse, since they do sell your data (like what AT&T and Google Fiber probably do). Of course, this means your VPN provider knows everything you're doing. So you have to ask yourself which entity your trust less, your ISP or your VPN provider?

Many ISPs in the U.S. keep logs of which websites you browse for up to two years or more. Ostensibly, it's to help them comply with warrants from the government to see what Johnny's been up to, but I'm not very comfortable with that. Other ISPs like Sonic out in San Francisco keep logs on users for as short as possible.

4. This brings me to #4. Those who want to bittorrent copyrighted content without getting a letter from a copyright holder pay for a VPN that claims to not keep logs or report users for torrenting copyrighted movies, music etc. This is probably the biggest selling point of paying for a VPN, but only if they don't snitch on users when they get Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) letters. Lots of VPN services make promises like that to users.

RetiredAL
Posts: 816
Joined: Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:09 am
Location: SF Bay Area

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by RetiredAL » Sat May 09, 2020 8:32 pm

index2max wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 7:55 pm
Regular people use VPNs for four reasons from what I've noticed:

1. Browse or use websites that restrict or grant more access depending on your location (e.g. watching Canadian Broadcasting Service coverage of the olympics from within the US. By the way, if the Olympics in Tokyo are still on for this year, I highly recommend watching the CBC coverage as they spend less time on crap like "look at this American go!". Their coverage is more neutral).

2. Websites like Google won't know where you are coming from if they are only following your computer's IP address. There are other ways your computer can get fingerprinted and identified uniquely. One example is the screen resolution of your device, the web browser you are using, the types of chips your computer runs (Intel vs AMD) etc. Helps thwart the surveillance capitalism from Google and stuff so I like that part.

3. Encrypt your internet connection from your ISP. This way your ISP doesn't see what you browse. This is great if you're worried about your ISP knowing which websites you browse, since they do sell your data (like what AT&T and Google Fiber probably do). Of course, this means your VPN provider knows everything you're doing. So you have to ask yourself which entity your trust less, your ISP or your VPN provider?

Many ISPs in the U.S. keep logs of which websites you browse for up to two years or more. Ostensibly, it's to help them comply with warrants from the government to see what Johnny's been up to, but I'm not very comfortable with that. Other ISPs like Sonic out in San Francisco keep logs on users for as short as possible.

4. This brings me to #4. Those who want to bittorrent copyrighted content without getting a letter from a copyright holder pay for a VPN that claims to not keep logs or report users for torrenting copyrighted movies, music etc. This is probably the biggest selling point of paying for a VPN, but only if they don't snitch on users when they get Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) letters. Lots of VPN services make promises like that to users.
Well said index2max.

My 2 bits:

So if you as a individual user are into "grey market" browsing, VPN does offers you something. VPN does not materially improve your security, the standard HTTPS connection takes care of that.

As to your ISP knowing where you are browsing: Do you worry about your cell phone people knowing where you are at all times and who your are talking/texting to, the transit/toll pass following your location, your credit card people knowing where you charged things, etc, etc, etc.

index2max
Posts: 303
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2019 11:01 pm

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by index2max » Sat May 09, 2020 9:45 pm

RetiredAL wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 8:32 pm
index2max wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 7:55 pm
Regular people use VPNs for four reasons from what I've noticed:

1. Browse or use websites that restrict or grant more access depending on your location (e.g. watching Canadian Broadcasting Service coverage of the olympics from within the US. By the way, if the Olympics in Tokyo are still on for this year, I highly recommend watching the CBC coverage as they spend less time on crap like "look at this American go!". Their coverage is more neutral).

2. Websites like Google won't know where you are coming from if they are only following your computer's IP address. There are other ways your computer can get fingerprinted and identified uniquely. One example is the screen resolution of your device, the web browser you are using, the types of chips your computer runs (Intel vs AMD) etc. Helps thwart the surveillance capitalism from Google and stuff so I like that part.

3. Encrypt your internet connection from your ISP. This way your ISP doesn't see what you browse. This is great if you're worried about your ISP knowing which websites you browse, since they do sell your data (like what AT&T and Google Fiber probably do). Of course, this means your VPN provider knows everything you're doing. So you have to ask yourself which entity your trust less, your ISP or your VPN provider?

Many ISPs in the U.S. keep logs of which websites you browse for up to two years or more. Ostensibly, it's to help them comply with warrants from the government to see what Johnny's been up to, but I'm not very comfortable with that. Other ISPs like Sonic out in San Francisco keep logs on users for as short as possible.

4. This brings me to #4. Those who want to bittorrent copyrighted content without getting a letter from a copyright holder pay for a VPN that claims to not keep logs or report users for torrenting copyrighted movies, music etc. This is probably the biggest selling point of paying for a VPN, but only if they don't snitch on users when they get Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) letters. Lots of VPN services make promises like that to users.
Well said index2max.

My 2 bits:

So if you as a individual user are into "grey market" browsing, VPN does offers you something. VPN does not materially improve your security, the standard HTTPS connection takes care of that.

As to your ISP knowing where you are browsing: Do you worry about your cell phone people knowing where you are at all times and who your are talking/texting to, the transit/toll pass following your location, your credit card people knowing where you charged things, etc, etc, etc.
Yes I am worried about that. It does bug me that I am basically carrying a tracker wherever I go. There was an article in the mainstream media a year or two ago stating that all the major US cellular providers sell user location data to third party companies who then sell them to various parties like private investigators. There's no way to turn that off or opt-out. I guess the mobile providers call that "monetizing" their users to help pay back the costs of building their towers and the connections back to internet exchange points.

There are GNU/Linux cell phone companies like Purism and Pine64 that have beta version cell phones out on the market that come with physical, hardware "kill switches" for wifi, bluetooth, GPS and cellular signals so you can go off the grid with your phone. Neither Apple nor any other Android phone manufacturer offer this ability. Looking forward to buying either phone later this year or in 2021.

nordsteve
Posts: 783
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:23 am

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by nordsteve » Sat May 09, 2020 10:11 pm

HawkeyePierce wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 12:13 pm
beastykato wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 11:54 am
2.) To hide my information from my ISP.

I know my ISP collects and sells information and I also don't think it's any of their business what I'm doing on my connection. It was my understanding that my information is at least hidden from them even it the data eventually is vulnerable at a later point. Is that correct?
A VPN does hide metadata from your ISP but it's still exposed to the VPN provider.

I don't trust Comcast but I still trust them more than just about any VPN provider on the market. They're at least subject to regulations by the FTC/FCC and state regulators. With a VPN provider you're going on nothing more than blind trust. Many are based overseas where you have no legal recourse, or they're run by companies like McAffee and Norton who are no more trustworthy than an ISP.
This point is really important. While you might not like Comcast, they are a) subject to US laws, b) still are subject to local consumer protection regulation in many places, and c) have much more reputational downside to really shady practices than a random VPN provider.

VPNs are on the way out in the corporate world, by the way.

smalliebigs
Posts: 171
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2017 10:48 am

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by smalliebigs » Sat May 09, 2020 10:17 pm

I currently subscribe to PIA VPN, but don't really use it much. It's great in itself, that's not the problem.

The issue is that websites such as Amazon Prime Video know the IP addresses of VPNs, and so block those. So you have to turn off VPN to watch videos. Some websites have issues loading too.

It's a minor inconvenience that's too tedious for me to bother. So I won't be renewing my subscription.

My advice is to just try it out for a while. Make sure to use a VPN that has no logging and doesn't slow you down too much.

HawkeyePierce
Posts: 1376
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 10:29 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: Will a vpn complicate or improve my internet experience?

Post by HawkeyePierce » Sat May 09, 2020 11:11 pm

nordsteve wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 10:11 pm
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 12:13 pm
beastykato wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 11:54 am
2.) To hide my information from my ISP.

I know my ISP collects and sells information and I also don't think it's any of their business what I'm doing on my connection. It was my understanding that my information is at least hidden from them even it the data eventually is vulnerable at a later point. Is that correct?
A VPN does hide metadata from your ISP but it's still exposed to the VPN provider.

I don't trust Comcast but I still trust them more than just about any VPN provider on the market. They're at least subject to regulations by the FTC/FCC and state regulators. With a VPN provider you're going on nothing more than blind trust. Many are based overseas where you have no legal recourse, or they're run by companies like McAffee and Norton who are no more trustworthy than an ISP.
This point is really important. While you might not like Comcast, they are a) subject to US laws, b) still are subject to local consumer protection regulation in many places, and c) have much more reputational downside to really shady practices than a random VPN provider.

VPNs are on the way out in the corporate world, by the way.
This is very true. We’ve been actively moving a lot of our intranet services out from behind the VPN lately.

In the corporate world a VPN is a bandaid and a bad one at that. It’s a patch for covering the fact that your internal services lack proper security controls themselves. The assumption behind too many corporate VPN setups is that only the edge of the network needs to be secure. This gives attackers run of the place if they breach the edge. Far better to ensure any sensitive service is protected in its own right than to assume that anyone on the network is authorized.

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