You’ve got your VPN set up to protect your anonymity online, now should you use it to watch pirated streaming movies?
First of all, of course not! That would be illegal and, as we all know video pirating is killing the entertainment industry.
But… As there are so many foreign language streaming sites out there which only give you the title of the film in English you might have absolutely believed that you were on a legitimate website right? And of course the VPN (Virtual Private Network) disguises your location anyway, so IN THEORY nobody would know it was you in the first place.
The purpose of a VPN isn’t to protect you from unwanted advertising, nor stop your web browser from tracking your visits and keeping cookies, and won’t stop anyone you live or share a computer with from seeing your history. So while there are many VPNs available, free or subscription based, using browser extensions or apps, they’re not necessarily the best, and certainly not the only option for more secure video streaming.
VPNs Protect Your Private Information And History From Hackers, But Don’t Erase Data
According to Yael Grauer over at Consumer Reports, VPNs aren’t an impenetrable “anonymity cloak” and can in some circumstances adversely effect your online security.
VPNs work to protect your privacy in three ways which make it impossible for hackers or cyber criminals to find out any details about you, your location, your IP address, or anything since there is no way of tracing the connection between the server the site you visited is on and the server which your computer used to access the internet.
The first way a VPN conceals your internet access data is by use of encryption. The VPN conceals your data from anyone outside the chain between you and your destination site.
Secondly the VPN encrypts the Domain Name System (DNS). If hackers can’t find out the domain that was being accessed, they can’t find out what the user was looking at.
Lastly the VPN conceals your IP address, the unique number associated with your own computer or internet enabled device. When you use a VPN you replace the IP of your device with that of the VPN.
The overarching purpose of a VPN is to conceal your IP address from anyone outside who might be looking for it, while simultaneously concealing your online behaviour so nobody is able to track it by monitoring your connection. This may sound unfeasible and incredibly targeted, but consider: online fraud is a multi-billion dollar industry and those responsible have the resources to design software which can monitor and track as many internet users as they want.
So why isn’t a VPN a complete Cloak of Online Invisibility?
VPNs work by concealing your data, but there’s very little they can do to protect you from the cookies you download yourself. Cookies being handy little bits of data which your computer stores to tell websites who you are when you visit it more than once, automatic log in details which Google, Facebook, Twitter, et cetera use when you see that dialogue box which asks you which social media account you want to log in with. Most cookies have a limited life so they aren’t kept forever, and you can delete all cookies on your computer, but that means logging into everything from scratch every time. Tedious.
As well as that, your browser history is kept too, so anyone with physical access to your computer will be able to see that, while online purchases will all be stored by the retailer and your bank. Naturally you can trust your bank, but trusting the ethics of a site which hosts pirated videos and music might not be such a wise decision.
So, if you want to keep people who can actually see your computer from knowing what you’ve been watching, a VPN isn’t going to be much use. Instead you should be deleting your browser history, and using an incognito browser when searching as they won’t keep a history.
Why pay for a VPN if free alternatives are available?
Naturally some VPNs are more reliable, and therefore trustworthy than others. That’s not to say that any of them are traps just waiting for you to input all your details before springing shut and scraping all that data from you. Some simply work better than others. Some conduct third party audits while others don’t. Some do in fact store your data, making it easier to log on and offering a wider range of services, but that in itself could be a security factor if they themselves got hacked. Some VPNs have a kill-switch which closes the internet connection immediately in case there’s an interruption to the security they’re providing, while others don’t.
In fact, many free VPNs only give the illusion of protecting your data. For many of them their business model depends on inserting their own tracking cookies, or actually selling your information, precisely the opposite of what you were intending.
Depending on what you want to block outsiders from seeing, there are several options.
If you’re worried about advertising tracking, where ads relating to your search history and site visits follow you around the web, try one of these tracker blockers.
If it’s malware such as viruses and trojan horses, then these malware removal services are for you.
You also have the option to choose anti-tracking browsers which protect you from intrusive unwanted ads. These include Brave, Opera, and the latest iterations of Safari. Even AVG, the well known anti-virus software manufacturer now has its own browser. But remember, browsers only protect you while you’re browsing within them. Using site apps to view movies won’t stop your activity being tracked.
Briant Broadband offers a fast broadband, super fast broadband and ultra fast fibre broadband deals for people living in and around the Worthing and Adur region. Call us on 01903 221999 to arrange your new wireless broadband or fast fibre broadband supply now. No contracts, no hidden costs, just good old fashioned local customer service and great value internet data.