You probably don’t need to use a VPN

Scope

The picture of a ‘hacker’ being unable to hack you because your connection between your laptop and ‘the Internet’ uses a VPN
Images like this are unhelpful and misleading

DoINeedAVPN.com

What does a VPN actually do?

General VPN services

VPNs just move some stuff around

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP)

Your VPN provider

Comparing ‘trust’

Mind the snakeoil

Whatever you’re doing is probably encrypted anyway

There is a time and a place for everything

Do the good stuff

  • Keep your device up to date (aka patched) — particularly your operating system and web browser
  • Visit websites using HTTPS (TLS) and think about using HTTPS Everywhere to help your web browser do that (it also does a bit more)
  • Use a DNS service that both encrypts your DNS activity but also helps you filter out malware and known malicious (like phishing) domains — I use NextDNS with DNScrypt.

Alright fine, I trust my ISP enough

I don’t trust my ISP

Picking a VPN service

  • privacy — check their privacy policy and legal jurisdiction (avoiding ones known for privacy issues)
  • cost — free isn’t good when it comes to VPN services. I’d be willing to part with $120/year to have a fast, safe(r than the local ISP/WiFi) and reliable VPN service whenever I needed it
  • speed — a slow VPN service will make you sad
  • location — VPN providers with servers all around the globe is better for flexible connecting and travel
  • reputation — without getting caught up in paid reviews and review-spam sites, if a provider has been around for awhile and aren’t being reported with security/privacy issues, they might not be terrible

My employer has a VPN

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The thin blue line between technology and everything else. joelgsamuel.com

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Joel Samuel

Joel Samuel

The thin blue line between technology and everything else. joelgsamuel.com

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