Find Out if Your VPN is Leaking Data with this Set of Tools

ExpressVPN has unveiled a suite of free online security tools that allow consumers to test if their VPN provider is leaking data. Leaks occur if a VPN fails at protecting a device’s DNS queries (despite the fact that the rest of the traffic is safe behind a VPN). This can result in ISPs or other third parties having access to the consumer’s browsing history or app usage, rendering a VPN essentially useless.

Using a VPN helps prevent hackers, ISPs, and others from viewing your personal data, compromising your online accounts, seeing what sites and apps you use, and tracking your activity across the web. However, leaks occur when a VPN application fails to fully secure a user’s traffic, sending some or all of it outside the secure tunnel.

The testing software from ExpressVPN is available free of charge.

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7 Reasons Why VPNs Might Die Out by 2020

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have been a standard tool for anyone seeking online privacy for years. However, a new article by Christian Cawley in the MakeUseOf web site says that VPNs are becoming less and less effective. This is not to say you should give up all VPNs immediately but it does show that privacy online is slowing being eaten away. The article is available at:

“Net Neutrality will die, so let’s take the profit out of killing it.” – Robert X. Cringely

Lobbyists for Big Business and Big Brother apparently have bought enough Congressmen and other officials that the FCC is about to rescind the Net Neutrality rules. Of course, the big losers in this action will be the consumers. That’s you and me.

Robert X. Cringely is the pen name of both technology journalist Mark Stephens and a string of writers for a column in InfoWorld. Cringely, whoever he is or they are, is generally recognized as one of the computer experts and leading consumer advocates of our time. Obviously, Cringely is strongly against this effort by big media companies and by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to decide for the rest of us which services we can access.

See for a description of what will undoubtedly happen once the Net Neutrality rules are rescinded.

Cringely writes, “No matter how many protesters merge on their local Verizon store, no matter how many impassioned editorials are written, it’s going to happen. The real question is what can be done in response to take the profit out of killing it? I have a plan.

He also writes:

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The Beginner’s Guide to VPNs

If you have heard of virtual private networks but don’t understand what they are or why you need to use one, the LifeHacker web site has an introductory article you should read.

Quoting from the article:

“VPNs are basically a set of servers that you connect to through your internet service provider (ISP). Once you have established a connection with your VPN, a process known as tunneling, the servers act as your virtual home on the internet. It’s as if you moved yourself into a secure office space without actually moving at all.

“As you surf the web from this secure space, all of the data you send and receive is encrypted, offering you a good degree of privacy. Once tunneled in, your ISP—or even certain spy agencies—can’t tell what information you’re browsing or downloading.”

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Why Free VPNs are not a Risk Worth Taking

I have written often about the wisdom of always using a VPN to keep your online activities private. (See for my past VPN articles.) Now David Gewirtz has written an article telling why someimes you get what you pay for or, even worse, what you didn’t pay for.

Gewirtz writes, “TANSTAAFL. If you’ve read your Heinlein, you know it’s an acronym for ‘There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.'”

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ArmorVPN: The Easiest Way to Use a VPN & Protect Privacy

In my opinion, everyone should use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when accessing the Internet. Quoting from the information about ArmorVPN on the Kickstarter web site:

“Every day around the world people use the internet for a variety of tasks. It has truly revolutionized life for billions of people. Though it is incredibly easy to use it’s not always safe. A shockingly large number of people are tracked for advertising purposes and monitored for any number of reasons by their own government—even though they are doing nothing wrong. The need for security and privacy increases as we access the internet more and more through smart phones, tablets, streaming services, and smart home devices. There are a few ways to accomplish this, the most trusted being a virtual private network, or VPN.”

In fact, VPN software and hardware has become a “growth industry” in recent years as spying by hackers, criminals, governments, and corporations alike continues to increase. You can now find dozens of solutions that use VPNs to help protect your privacy online. One of the newest, and easiest to implement, solutions is called ArmorVPN.

ArmorVPN is a bit of hardware contained in a small box. It contains everything you need to protect the online activities of your computers, cell phone, streaming TV device, game console, and more. It works with Windows, Macintosh, Android, Apple iOS, and Linux. In fact, the operating system(s) used are unimportant; the ArmorVPN device will work with any device that is capable of communicating on the Internet. If your cell phone is capable of placing calls over the Internet (typically called a VoIP phone), you can even make voice calls with it.

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When Visiting Political, Religious, Sexual, Drug-Related, or other Controversial Web Sites, Always Use a VPN

This is a bit of a follow-up to the previous article, Trump Administration Demands Data on over a Million Visitors to anti-Trump Site.

The Trump administration is demanding web host provider Dreamhost turn over the logs of over 1.3 million visitors to an anti-Trump website it hosts, the company has revealed. The demand asks for the IP addresses and other information that could be used to identify anyone who visited the site. “The request from the DOJ demands that DreamHost hand over 1.3 million visitor IP addresses — in addition to contact information, email content, and photos of thousands of people — in an effort to determine who simply visited the website,” the company said in its blog post. The warrant, DreamHost argues, would also require it to hand over any communications that are even tangentially related to the website.

Such a request has a chilling effect on the rights of free speech, the rights of association, and numerous other rights that Americans have enjoyed for more than 200 years.

The request probably is illegal and also displays an appalling ignorance of the technology involved. In short, the politicians apaprently are not aware that anyone who uses a VPN (virtual private network) or Tor networking has a hidden IP address.

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