How Does a VPN Keep Your Data Transfers Safe

Do you transfer data either for work or personal purposes? If you haven’t experienced any problems yet, then consider yourself lucky. There’s no question that the Internet has made our lives easier in many ways, but this digital jungle is also home to hackers who readily attack the ill-equipped.

You may have heard stories of people having their sensitive information stolen just by surfing the web, leading to serious problems, not the least of which is identity fraud. Thankfully, using a VPN can keep your data transfers safe.

If you’re tech-savvy, then you may already be familiar with virtual private networks. In a nutshell, a VPN creates a secure and encrypted connection between your computer and a private server. When transferring data, hackers may see the data coming from your computer. But when using a VPN, the data looks as if it is coming from the VPN server. This means that hackers will not be able to see or modify the traffic.

VPNs are immensely popular among torrent users. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as it’s easy for providers to convince torrent users that they may be the target of fraudulent attacks without securing their connections. However, the benefits of using a VPN goes well beyond allowing you to download torrents safely.

Equipped with the right VPN, you can avoid government surveillance or censorship. This is huge for anyone living or spending time in the UK. Using a VPN will also allow you to visit websites which are banned by the British government.

It’s worth noting, however, that VPNs do not grant total anonymity online. You may have seen VPN providers claiming to use a “no-log” approach, which means they do not keep track of their users. This has been proven to be unrealistic; a claim intended to lure in more paying customers. Instead of focusing on anonymity, be sure that you choose a provider that’s concerned with your privacy.

Transferring data might be something you do every day and have hence started to take it for granted. But you don’t want to wake up one day and find out your private information stolen. Even your ISP may be stealing data from you without realizing it. A VPN will protect your data so start using one every time you do anything online.

Digital Privacy Isn’t Taken, It Is Given Away

Open Source Data & Surveillance

With the Edward Snowden privacy leak a few years back, there is an important factor we’re all missing. It isn’t the government agencies that collect the data. They are merely consumers and harvesters of it. The data comes from corporations that have been gathering it for years, data that we have freely given them in exchange for convenience and vanity. We are the victims and the perpetrators.

I know a little bit about this, as I have utilized a combination of tools that track stolen devices as well as leveraged open source data to assist law enforcement to gather additional information about suspects. By “open source” I am referring to the term law enforcement uses to define data that is open and available to the public. I didn’t need top secret NSA clearance, it is information people put up freely and made public and when doing so left additional invisible traces of data (“meta-data”) embedded in files and messages that helped paint a more detailed picture.

Personal data mining

The Cloud Is a Database of You

Every email, phone call, text message, tweet, Facebook post, photo upload, check-in, online purchase is another entry into the big online database of you. However, that is just the data you know about, underneath there lies more layers of logged and stored data of which many are not aware. That information can provide just as much insight into our lives as the more opaque data with which we are accustomed to dealing.

This data all exists in isolated islands, however, when there is a data breach, or a government agent gets a piece of information such as an IMEI number, IP address, MAC address or email, it can then tie pieces of information together.

Personal data stored in the cloud

Dude Where’s My Data?

We didn’t sell our soul to the Internet. We simply imported it. We have exchanged our digital privacy for convenience, speed and artifice. It doesn’t matter if it is wrong or right, ethical or unethical. It’s the big data elephant in the room. It exists and will continue to grow, and more importantly, organizations will do a better job of making sense of it and creating individual profiles. Although a fun intellectual exercise there is no way off this grid. You are no longer in full control of your digital destiny. True digital privacy is dead.

I will be writing additional posts on this topic over the coming months, bringing in real-life examples and discussing how corporations, governments, and hackers alike leverage data and technologies to invade our privacy for fun, profit, and control. I will also discuss ways we can begin to reclaim some of our digital privacy along the way.