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  1. 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
  2. Sallubrious

    Smart TV's

    I've been looking into upgrading my TV and some the new "smart" TV's have some appealing features ie wifi, ethernet connectivity and built in web browsers etc, so I was curious about the hardware and software they run to provide those features. After a quick investigation I found out they run a somewhat primitive OS and web browser that runs on single user profile without any real form of file permissions. Most of the software seemed to be based on Javascript or HTML of various incarnations so alarm bells started to ring. Some of the more recent "Smart" TV's have inbuilt webcams and microphones so they can deliver Skype services so with the lack of file of permissions and the interwoven Java coding I was starting to see a few potential exploits that could be possible if such a device was connected to the internet. Anyway it seems like this is a valid concern and after a quick websearch I'm at the stage where I would not use the inbuilt OS and browser functionality and adopt other strategies for viewing web content on a TV. I'd consider an android/linux based web TV/ mini PC where I can set permissions and implement a firewall policy and actually monitor what's going on with the connection (and disable javascript) to be a much safer way to connect to the internet. From what I can see these new "smart" TV's have the potential to be a window into your living room complete with eyes ears. The camera and microphone have no hardware switch to turn them off and are solely dependent on software, so if a hacker or some prick from a security organisation decides to hijack your camera and microphone then you will have no way to stop them. Then there's other considerations like data collection for advertising purposes where a profile is built on your web habits and advertising is targeted to suit that profile. A quick websearch on "smart TV's spyware" confirmed everything I suspected Source https://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/black-hat-smart-tvs-are-perfect-target-spying-you Something to think about next time you're near your "Smart" TV and doing something you'd rather keep private even if it's on standby.