BestVPN's article on " I know what you downloaded "

Found this while browsing around the internet . Concerns Bittorenting , file sharing and P2P downloading .

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Greetings…Brings out a point. I thought VPN’s were to protect one’s privacy and security;encrypting, etc… Also are VPN’s free??? Got an email from CHROME to download one of their extensions; a VPN. Then I come across ,“free VPN trials”, “superfast VPN speeds”, Types:
Fast video streaming. Access any content worldwide. Alo secures Wi-Fi connection . Any finally, “Buy Best VPN”.
So I assume you can download a free program, but to connect it, you pay a fee for usage???.

Some VPNs are free, others charge. In general, those that charge are faster and more reliable.

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@bigmitch8 Yeh I agree they do “pad” their articles somewhat with extensions to VPN services . It was the content and theme of the article that was of interest to me .

VPNs are not as private as one may believe…

PC World
Golden Frog

Cyber Crime experts also indicate that information which can be captured through VPN servers can be requested through legal pathways in most countries. They can also be ‘watched’ by law enforcement agencies.

After recently speaking to a cyber crime expert, the only real way to truly stay anonymous and ensure that your online data is protected/anonymous is to set up a ‘bulletproof’ server in say China or Russia. But it is likely this will also change in the future as pressure is placed on such services/countries. There is also the avenues such as IP blocking of these servers in Australia by the government firewall.

I personally don’t rely on them and only use devices connected to secure networks…and definitely wouldn’t use VPNs to try and disguise anything such as bypassing piracy laws.

But would potentially use them to bypass the “Australia” tax if I needed to buy something from overseas which was blocked/more expensive due to living in Australia… …providing I new the VPN was trustworthy and not one of many that has IPv6 Leakage or DNS Hijacking. But then again, I would question if the risks VPNing outway paying the Australia tax.

I would also never send private or sensitive info over a vpn such as logging into a bank website to do some banking as such info could be for the taking.

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@phb I often get asked about VPN’s .I’m certainly no expert in the field and my answer is always the same . They will give you a degree of privacy when browsing the web or what ever but anonymity never .

After reading the article a few times,it sounds like a publicity gimmick for purchasing and using VPN.
Then reading phbriggs2000 response says otherwise and negatives about usage. I thought them
a tool for streaming with say, Stan and my safety & protection with wi-fi.
What is the real content and theme besides a website with the capability to know where you’ve
been (like Big Brother is Watching).

@bigmitch8

Having a VPN when using your mobile to surf on public Wifi is a very sensible precaution. It encrypts your data to and from your phone before it is sent over the public network. So if you were to say do Net Banking this would be a fairly secure operation if using a VPN and a great security risk if not. Your home wifi is hopefully set to use secure wireless protocol either WPA or WPA2 (do not trust WEP) which encrypts the traffic to and from your modem/router to your phone/computer/tablet.

If streaming from Stan or a similar service for non geo-blocked content then using a VPN is not necessary, however if you wish to access content that is geo-blocked using a VPN can allow you to get access. “Can” is used here because many streaming services are blocking known VPN portals/IP addresses and so a VPN service has to get new addresses to overcome this barrier. It is a bit of a cat and mouse game.

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My main purpose for posting the thread was to show that when you are using a torrent to download copy write material you can be caught . I worked at an internet cafe sometime ago and the number of people there who downloaded off , for example The Pirate Bay , and believed that they could not be caught because of the number of people , we’ll say 6000 seeders and 8000 leeches on the sight , was incredible .
That was my reason for putting the post up . VPN’s as I said in my post under @phb only give you a degree of privacy . That degree being how much time and effort your Telco wants to spend in finding out your IP address . Anonymity can be had I’m told but it is beyond my knowledge of IT . You are right BestVPN do go a bit overboard on pushing the VPN message . That might be for obvious reasons . I’m sorry if my post has been confusing . That was not my intention and will take it down if you so desire .

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vax2000 Thank you for posting. You have made me and others more aware of the VPN situation.

All of the comments above are very much appreciated, and I want to thank all who contributed.

Education and awareness of these matters is vital to stay up to date with modern technology.
Cheers Natalie

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Yes, to your ISP and to others who may be listening in on public open wifi networks…but not to those who chose to listen in for other reasons.

I am surprised that many in the community use VPNs thinking they are safe, when many of those who operate the same VPNs are unknown entities and not subject to the same scrutiny one would expect when handling potentially sensitive/confidential information.

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I agree and reiterate what I have previously posted .VPN’s give a degree of privacy but not anonymity . Thanks for your interest in the post .

Much thanks to everyone especially vax2000 for your info. Been with FOXTEL for over 20 years
and every year gets worse with excessive commercial content and reject programming which I
pay for and do not use (the standard package). I’ve been to their community website and expressed
my views. Of course they sympathize , but are FOXTEL prone. They think commercials are a necessary part of life and sponsors doesn’t seem to be in their vocabulary.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking of streaming (STAN) would be better and my question about VPN
usage. Of course, who can you trust with your privacy and security when no one really gives a stuff
about it and what you want (like Yahoo’s security breech in 2013 , just recently notifying us users.
I feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place.

And for @bigmitch8 @vax2000 @njfking @Fred and any others who may be interested

Yes there are shonky VPN providers out there and that is why before using one you should look into it and see what others are saying about it. There are lots of sites where people talk about VPN providers and even articles on reputable web sites that discuss them. Search on Google about the VPN/s you are interested in and see what feedback there is about it/them. And many VPNs do give their users a large degree of privacy and anonymity when browsing the web and make their interactions much safer.

But a VPN is a tool and like all tools there are good and bad ways of using them. Encrypting your data when sending it over the net is a safer option than sending it unencrypted. A VPN encrypts your data, and only at your PC and where it exits the VPN is the data unencrypted. If the VPN doesn’t keep detailed logs (some don’t) of your traffic then it is very hard or impossible for them to see what you have sent/done. If the site you wish to visit properly uses HTTPS (check the security on the address bar) rather than HTTP then even after your data exits the VPN it is encrypted until it is on the site you are visiting and is not able to be deciphered by the VPN provider at any time. Using Tor over a VPN increases your security as the Tor system also encrypts your data and sends it through many channels until it reaches the Tor Exit Node and again if the site you wish to visit uses HTTPS then the data remains encrypted until it is on the site or on your PC.

HTTPS is what your Bank/Financial Institutions use to keep your data safe when you web bank. HTTPS is what keeps your interactions with this site safer from outside interference. Google, Yahoo and others encourage you to use their secure services to keep your data private from snooping as it passes through the web. The sites in these cases can be where the fault lies for the loss of control over your data but that is not the fault of VPNs, the use of HTTPS, or your secure habits. The day will come that Quantum computers will break the current security but hopefully that day is a long way off. But as the future advances of computing occur, the way we secure our communications will also advance. So if you visit a site that doesn’t use HTTPS drop them a line and encourage them to do so, even if you don’t use a VPN it will make your web interactions much more secure. Use HTTPS Everywhere (https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere) from Electronic Frontier Foundation (and have a read of their articles from here https://ssd.eff.org/en and here https://www.eff.org/) to help you connect to sites that do have HTTPS but that can be hard to use.

There is a very good site about VPN providers and what their structures are like see this link to a previous post Geoblocking and accessing content online that has a link to the site and it’s tables.

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@SarahAgar might be able to chime in on this one - our privacy policy expert. I can see someone has also posted the link to our previous article.

You can find out VPN reviews here ($): https://www.choice.com.au/electronics-and-technology/internet/connecting-to-the-internet/review-and-compare/vpn-services

And a buying guide here (free for non-members): https://www.choice.com.au/electronics-and-technology/internet/connecting-to-the-internet/buying-guides/vpn-services

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Hi @grahroll. Agree with what you have said and leads to the question why use a vpn? The only reason I can see is to bypass the Australia Tax if one desperately needs to watch say a just released UK or US serial…or to buy something slightly cheaper. One has to assess if the risks of putting data through a vpn is worth not waiting until it is available/additional cost in Australia. If used for this purpose, a vpn should be used solely for streaming and not for general use where all data goes through the vpn.

In relation to logging, most vpn established in western countries log even if they say that they don’t keep your personal information. This is to protect their owners in case a vpn user commits criminal activities when using the vpn (the vpn IP would be that of the criminal investigation and evidence)…logging removes the vpn owner as being ultimately responsible.

There are vpns which allegedly don’t log in countries such as China, Russia etc, but sending traffic through these countries is like playing Russiin roulette and there is a likelihoood that your traffic is being monitored by others than the vpn owners. There has been much in the media lately of these countries being interested in such data…independent of how significant it is.

There are also vpns in some Scandinavian countries which say that any collected data is safe from legal enquiry, but, this has not been tested. I am sure that the treaties/agreements these countries they have entered would expose this data in the long term.

If security over a open public network is an issue, then one is best to set up their own home vpn using a device/router that supports openvpn. This means that the connection is more secure to your normal home connection and then back out to the wide internet world. Such connections don’t help bypassing the Australia Tax though.

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There are quite a few reviews of VPNs from very respectable sites such as CNET. They give pros and cons of the best free ones as well as paid ones.

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Excellent post, grahroll - thanks. :slight_smile:

What a great post. Thanks

There are several reasons for using a VPN, and one very important rule to remember. First, the rule:

If you are not paying for it, then you are the product.

That is, don’t use a ‘free’ VPN or similar.

Now to why you may want to use a VPN:

  • To use the Internet without all of your metadata being collected by your ISP. Australian law now requires your ISP to collect all the metadata you produce while online, and there is a list of 60+ agencies that can request access to it. As pointed out by many privacy experts, “oh it’s just metadata” is a smokescreen - metadata can tell the reader an awful lot about the individual.
  • In order to download that movie for free.
  • To access online material that is blocked by the Australian Internet Filter - which at implementation apparently blocked a Brisbane dental practice by mistake, so evading this does not mean you’re just after ‘teh pornz’.
  • In order to watch Game of Thrones - or its successor - while paying the provider for the privilege and before it becomes available in Australia (i.e. to avoid geo-blocking).

Finally, how do you choose your VPN? Yes, you could go to a website like BestVPN, whose entire business model is based upon selling VPN services. You may choose to check CNET, a reputable reporting entity that provides relatively unbiased reviews of such products. My recommendation is to look at both of these, and then make your final decision using either or both of:

The latter produced an incredibly detailed spreadsheet comparison of VPNs, which is well worth your while if you are serious about getting the best for your purposes.

Finally, something to keep in mind in relation to everything you do online. There is a difference between the terms ‘secure’, ‘private’, and ‘authenticated’.

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