Alice in VPN Land

So when I decided to write the third post, that is the first post that contains anything about anonymity or staying anonymous, I kept thinking for sometime. Where should I start? Then I decided I will do a walk through in VPN.

At first I thought, maybe I will guide you through the shitty behind the curtain of social media privacy. But, then I thought how can I save your privacy by just telling you to become an inferior imbecile. Yes, becoming an inferior imbecile have a lot to do with privacy and anonymity but, before reaching that point, maybe we should learn how to stay anonymous while still being able to use the social media and go ahead with the routine day to day life.

Keep in mind that, we are going to focus on Anonymity than Privacy in this blog.

If you can’t differentiate between privacy and anonymity, let’s put it this way.

Privacy is when you trust your neighbor and letting him know that you run a meth lab in your basement and he keeps it a secret for a stash every week. But you have to trust him and his ethics for your safety.

Anonymity is when you drop a stash in his mailbox every week without him knowing in exchange for him placing the price in the same mailbox. Both parties do not know each other, but it is a win win scenario.

Here, I am not intending to talk about privacy rather anonymity. But I promise I will write about privacy later.

So, Anonymity:

We will start of with a simple idea.

I am writing considering the fact that most of the people who read this article is not too tech savvy enough to understand what an encryption is or what virtual private network means right when they hear it.

 

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Alice

The classic names that we use in the internet is Alice and Bob. I will stick with it for the ease.

 

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Bob

Say Alice want to connect to internet and want to send a hi to Bob. Both have their own Facebook profiles, just like every living thing (including dogs, kittens and spiders).

Alice fires up her computer , which is connected to the internet. She opens the browser and type in www.facebook.com. The browser instantly opens the blue screen of death (human version) for Alice.

But behind the scene, the browser sends out a DNS request. The Domain Name System is the one in which every computer/service that is accessible via an IP address is given a name and is mapped in a library called the DNS server. The DNS have a system that works in multiple stages.

First the browser will look inside the operating system itself (a file called hosts) to see if the address tha Alice provided is mapped to any IP address. If it see that it isn’t, it proceed to the router (assuming the router have a hosts/dns setup) to check the same. At the case of failure at this level, the request is then sent to the DNS service run by the ISP who provide us with the internet.

Note the point your honor. An ISP will be able to know what is that we are requesting while we are trying to browse.

It won’t be a problem is every employee of the ISP is a person full of shit load of ethics and there are nobody interested in looking into your personal life and stuff. But when it comes to the reality, things are quite a bit different.

Here is the first place where we have to take anonymity seriously.

Have you heard of VPN services? The virtual private network. This is one of the tech terms that got a lot of attraction recently. This is a very common and popular internet security method that even most common people can adapt for online security.

A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. Applications running across the VPN may therefore benefit from the functionality, security, and management of the private network. – Wiki

I don’t think there is a much simpler version of the statement is available. But, I will rephrase.

When a person is connected to the internet, he is connected to the many several million users. There is no notion of privacy or anonymity in this. But, if you are familiar with the term  Local Area Network aka LAN, then the VPN make sure that your computer is connected to a LAN at some remote place (literally it is, but not physically). You will appear to be connecting to the internet from a different LAN than that you are actually in.

Why should I use a VPN?

Really? How did you reach this sentence in this bullshit blog about anonymity?  Haha.. Kidding.

The first benefit of using a VPN is one layer of anonymity into the browsing. How does VPN makes one anonymous? Like I said earlier, while using the VPN one appears to be on a different LAN. Which means, we are using a different router than that we are actually on, which in turn means we will appear to be browsing from a different location that we are actually on.

Two, Security. All the traffic that passes through the VPN connection is secure (supposedly) and cannot be intercepted by anyone else (in theory). This means your data is secure. I started off the this blog post talking about a nefarious person in the ISP office looking into your traffic. But, when you are using a VPN this is not what happens. He won’t be able to see the data as he expect.

The one thing that we all should learn is that VPN is just only one small step for mankind in trying to stay anonymous. But using VPN on an already compromised device is of no use.

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Cafe Hacker

One another benefit of using a VPN Service is protection against hackers who try to steal data while we are in public WiFis. Like in a library or a cafe. (yea, I will definitely write a post about security over public WiFi later in this series)

Again, internet censorship.

There are times when you seriously want to watch a video or content and the service provider, or the ISP will not let you watch it because you are not within a specific country.

For example, while using prime video (Amazon Prime Video Service) the content varies between countries.

Hell I want to watch Sons of Anarchy, but they wont let me because that content is not for my country! WTF!!!

VPN is the answer in this case. You can choose a point of exit in most of the VPNs which will help you show the services as if you are browsing them from a different country of your choice. Hence, proof.

Coming Soon: Best VPN services , freebies and paid.

Some credits:

Images: 1

 

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