Sadly in today’s world Internet Security doesn’t just mean having Anti-Virus Software and a strong Firewall. While these things are necessary they don’t always get the job done, especially with public WiFi Networks spreading wildfire. Hackers are starting to change tactics from spy-ware and malware to fake WiFi networks and DNS Spoofing. The question is How do you stay ahead of the curve? How do you keep from being a victim? Well your off to a great start by reading this article and any others like it. Expanding your knowledge on these topics will help to keep you informed of what a Hacker might try in order to steal your personal information, but that will only go so far before you have to take measures in order to prevent these attacks. Today I am going to talk to you about VPN’s, Proxies and the TOR network and how you can use these things to protect yourself from Hackers. First I’ll explain in depth what each of these things are and what they are used for. Then I’ll explain how to properly use them to protect yourself form Hackers, I’ll start with VPN’s.
A VPN is an acronym for Virtual Private Network. These services Create an encrypted tunnel between you and the servers of your chosen VPN Service Provider. This enables you to use the Internet without anyone being able to intercept your Internet traffic as it travels across the web. This will also make it so that no one can trace your Internet activity back to you. Traditionally these were used by major corporations to access the companies computers remotely without any fear of someone stealing any sensitive information. Do to the Anonymity that these services offer VPN’s were later adopted by Internet Criminals and Conspiracy theorists, so that you can’t track any of their Internet activity back to them. Now a days these services are starting to be adopted by the average Internet user to protect them from Hackers and criminals on the Internet. by encrypting your Internet traffic it ensures that no one can steal your personal information while it travels across the Internet. For instance if you are at your local McDonalds or Starbucks and you decide to buy some shoes on Amazon. There is a chance that a hacker could be watching that WiFi connection and intercepts your credit card information. I explain these kinds of attacks in detail in WiFi Gone Rouge. Most VPN’s wont just stop there though, some will also allow you to use there servers to encrypt your DNS traffic. Protecting you from hackers sending you to websites that are designed to steal your information instead of just trying to intercept it like they did at Starbucks. VPN’s are a very useful Security measure to have on top of your computers regular security features and will be very beneficial no matter what you hope to accomplish on the Internet.
Proxy-A Proxy is similar to a VPN but it wont encrypt your web traffic. Proxies act as middle men between you and the website you are trying to reach. For instance if you want to go to google.com typically you would tell the servers at google that you want to connect to them. When you use a Proxy server instead of telling the google servers you want to go to google.com you tell the proxy server and it will connect to the servers at google instead of you connecting to them. Proxies are a good low form of Internet Security while they aren’t quite as strong as a VPN they are helpful to use so that way you aren’t dealing directly with the websites yourself but the Proxy server is instead.
The TOR network is a network of privately owned proxies. This project was built on the idea of making proxy servers more secure. today you would typically access the TOR network using the TOR browser. This is a very effective way to stay anonymous on the Internet but it still doesn’t encrypt your Internet traffic like a VPN would. For this reason the two are usually used in conjunction with one another. When you connect to the TOR network your Internet traffic is sent to their server and is then randomly routed to one of their hundreds of nodes around the world from there the first will connect you to another and the Second will connect you to a third which will the send you to what they call an exit node that sends you to the website you are trying to access. TOR is a bit more complex than just the typical VPN and Proxy and if you would like a more detailed explanation you can visit their website and get an in depth explanation of how it works.
Now that you know what these terms are and what they are used for. We can talk about how to properly use them. I’ll start with TOR since there are really only two ways to use it. The first being using TOR by it’s self, while this will hide you on the Internet It wont encrypt any of your web traffic. This will protect any attackers from finding your real location and your computers Ip Address but it doesn’t add the security benefits of a VPN. The second way to use TOR would be to connect to it with a VPN. Some VPN companies will include this functionality so that you get the extra layer of anonymity by using TOR and you get the security benefits of using a VPN. This is by far the best way to use TOR if Security is your concern. With VPN’s you have to do a good bit of research you don’t want to just purchase HMA or ExspressVPN and end up with a very weak VPN Service. Researching this can be very time consuming and you may never know for sure that you made the right decision, but the security benefits are well worth it. Luckily there are people like me with no life that have done all that work for you.
If you use a Proxy what you want to be careful of is falling into the transparent proxy trap. These Proxies offer no security at all and don’t hide your information from the server you are trying to connect to. The two types of Proxies you need to look for are anonymous and elite Proxy servers. An anonymous proxy server will hide all of you information from the server you are connecting to. The down fall with these are it is easy for a website to know that you are connecting from a Proxy Server, so they wont be able to know anything about you but they can see that the information is purposefully being hidden from them. An elite Proxy Server will hide your Sensitive Information i.e Ip Address but it won’t hide you so much that it is easy for a website to tell you are coming from a proxy server. The best way to use these servers is in conjunction with one another using a program called proxychains this will chain a list of proxy servers together so you don’t route your internet traffic through one but through four or five. When you do this you will want to connect to your anonymous servers first and end it with an elite server. This will ensure that you get the most security out of your Proxy Servers.
You can find several free proxy server lists that are kept up to date by searching for them on the web and most VPN’s will provide you with Proxy servers as well. You can get more information on TOR at there website and some of the VPN’s in my list provide functionality with TOR. Here is a list of VPN’s that I trust to get you started on your research (I will keep this list updated as more VPN’s come out).
How Domain Names can be used against you and how to protect yourself against it.
How Public WiFi Networks can be used against you and how to protect yourself against them
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Explains why you are never fully protected on the Internet