Skip to main content

View Diary: So You Wanna Use a VPN! (146 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  I'll take another stab, as my answers differ .. (16+ / 0-)

    I've also been on the corporate side in day job, and have also helped some people with issues with hostile home countries, and some other things.

    I'll ask. Is what you're saying here: If I use a VPN service, the 'authorities' won't be able to learn if I spend all my internet time on pr0n sites or political sites or whatever, whereas Yahoo will roll over and spill their guts about whether I frequent liberal or conservative sites or view unhealthy amounts of food porn? If I use a VPN, and go to Yahoo via/through the VPN, then yahoo will still track me won't they?
    Untrue. They won't learn from your ISP. They could learn from the VPN provider or the destination website like Yahoo or err Facebook. They can also learn from link redirectors that use your login credentials (also like Facebook). Even if you were smart enough (and the people I help are not criminals so they usually aren't) to not log in explicitly as "you" to the destination website, you may still be logged in implicitly by link redirectors or cookies.

    The OP mentioned log retention. Many VPN keep logs and will turn them over to the 'authorities' upon request. Those that don't keep logs can not. There have been instances of ones that do not keep logs being asked to keep logs for specific investigations. The VPN providers can either comply or push-back. But either way, the VPNs desire to keep your secrecy and their legal ability to push back at the requesting authority are factors. Hidemyass, already mentioned is a legitimate VPN. But, if they think the FBI has a legitimate reason, your connection history is theirs. Here is their blog explaining this:

    Some free VPNs are "honeypots" and their whole purpose is to track you and sell or otherwise provide your history to others.

    Destination websites often track by cookies and browser footprints. The EFF explains this fairly well, but the one paragraph description on slashdot of their study does a good summary:

    In short, no, depending on what you are trying to hide, or who you are trying to hide from and where you go, and your own savvy and discipline, the VPN can be made irrelevant as protection.

    Does using VPN have implications for me avoiding hacking/security issues?
    Not really. Basically it changes your route. Theoretically you could avoid certain routing issues, but most of the security holes are probably between you and your destination. Basically, you can travel from LA to NYC openly through Chicago, or really quietly through Bumpass, VA. If they are going to rob you in NYC, you're still robbed. Though a few cases of people were detouring you in Chicago you'd avoid.
    Does every internet crook in the world do this to avoid detection/capture?
    The good ones must, but it is really only a very small tool for a crook being actively chased. Some crooks RUN VPNs themselves, not for their use, but to steal from people who thought they were safe using them. The honeypots I mentioned above. I even exposed one, once.
    Is this how wikileaks operated to avoid getting busted--but he did anyway, right? What's up with that?
    They used not only VPN's but other things and modified TOR . I think you are confused. Wikileaks was always fairly open about who they were and what they did. Sources leaking to them should not have been compromised, if they set up the security properly. In short, the sources that have made media as being compromised were either undone by Wikileaks own amateurish editing of the leaked materials, and I won't defend them for those mistakes. After that, some more perhaps after an internal implosion among its own techies. One of them in Germany wrote a book on that after he was out. I'm not an insider, just a watcher. So I can't tell you what part of "he said, she said" is true. I can say that there was some internal techie explosion and split as enough has been said about it to European documentaries, and in books.

    Many of the legal threats, however, are for actually publishing what they got. That would be more like reporter or newspaper being sued to give up a source or under an espionage act, and the fact that web publishing in another country has iffy or no legal protections as a news outlet. So even the techie implosion is fairly irrelevant in that angle.

    •  Great comment. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Very thorough. A VPN may be useful. But it's no panacea, and for some, it may be a waste of money, or even harmful, eh?

      Thanks for a good summary of the facts.

      © grover

      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 02:29:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site