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I will provide information to the best of my knowledge however it is provided as is without any guarantees or assurances. Do your own research as well. The best way to use this is to understand it and build on it. I've been meaning to do something like this for quite a while but never really got around to it. With the metadata stuff coming into effect soon, I figured now is as good a time as any to start writing some things on the topics. I'll try cover as much as I can, as best I can, but let me know if you have any questions, suggestions, ideas, whatever. Some topics I'd like to cover include VPNs, Tor, Bitcoin, PGP/GPG encryption and general internet privacy. If you've got others you want me to cover, let me know. VPNs What is a VPN? VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It's main use was to allow people/computers to securely remotely connect into a personal or private network (usually an office) from wherever they may be. This would allow them to safely access the internal services like printers, shared drives/folders, and most importantly and relevant to this post - the internet connection. Despite Bob being at home, their IP would still be the same as if they were in the office for all traffic routed through the VPN. People then started using VPNs solely for the previously mentioned purpose of routing traffic through remote locations. How do they stop my metadata being collected/how do they work? Well... they don't. But they stop the important stuff being collected. The only metadata that can be collected by Australian ISPs about your internet usage when you're using a VPN is, well, that you're using a VPN. The traffic is fairly easily identified but it's all end-to-end encrypted meaning that at no point along it's journey does your traffic become readable to any party.' Are there any drawbacks? Yup! The biggest one you will notice, especially living in Australia, is speed. Expect to lose atleast a 3rd of your internet speed. The second biggest thing you'll notice is the hassle if you're going all out. It's very easy to put it in the too hard basket because you've got to install it on all of your devices, make sure they're always connected to the VPN, keep your bills paid, get annoyed at how slow it gets sometimes, etc... Unfortunately privacy comes at a cost now days. Alright, I'm with ya, how do I get one of these VPNs? Short answer: Buy service from a reputable provider like IPVanish, PIA, IVPN or similar. Using a credit card or Paypal is fine. You're looking at about $10/month but (much) less if you buy in larger blocks (3 months, 6 months, 1 year). Long answer: Do a bit of research about the providers out there. Some questions to ask: Do they log? (Logging for VPNs is usually, amusingly, metadata which is often identifiable if given to certain parties) Do they use OpenVPN? (If they don't, don't use them) What are people saying about them? Where are their servers located? Where do the companies operate from? How much do they cost? Do they support multiple devices/connections? Do they look legit? How much info are they asking for? Once you've found one that ticks your boxes, sign up and pay for your plan. Use bitcoins if you want but realistically Paypal or credit card is likely going to be alright unless you're doing really nefarious things and want some anonymity with your privacy (they are not the same thing). Start with a single month and see how it goes for you. If all is well, consider longer billing periods. They usually have pretty extensive guides on how to connect from your difference devices so I won't cover that here. Once connected, run a few checks like see what DuckduckGo thinks your IP is, what DNSLeakTest says and maybe some speed tests if you're interested. Finally, go about your normal browsing. Some interesting links World War II information security: Navajo VPN - Kaspersky Blog I Am Anonymous When I Use a VPN - VPN Myths (I wouldn't go with them as a provider but the info is interesting) VPN - Wikipedia Tor - Wikipedia List of privacy conscious VPN providers by a torrenting/piracy blog (trustworthy) - TorrentFreak
Recently I have become concerned about the vast amount of information that companies like phone & internet providers, google, financial institutions and government collect on my movements, communications and purchases. For the most part I assume that my anonymity is guaranteed by the vast amount of data collected, there simply aren’t the resources to scrutinise it all. However, most of this data is there for good and if I were ever unfortunate enough to give these institutions a motive to look at my data, there would be things there that would not incriminate me, but perhaps arouse suspicion, i.e. searches related to entheogen use, propagation, extraction etc. I'm fairly internet savvy, I avoid using my real name, I use several email accounts for different purposes, I rarely buy anything online and recently I have begun to use Tor browser. Ideally I'd like to maintain a completely separate identity on the net, but this isn’t always possible. Would anyone like to share the measures they take to protect their anonymity online and in day-to-day life, if at all? Perhaps I am just paranoid. I would be particularly interested in hearing from old-hats in the community who have managed to stay of the radar. How have you done it? Has anyone had situations where data has been used against them in legal cases?