Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Don’t get tracked on the web

The more you use the internet in your daily life, the more information you are sharing. Let’s take a typical day in your life where you wake up in the morning and check your phone. Maybe you raise yourself from slumber slowly, maybe put on a dressing gown and wander downstairs to the kitchen thinking about making that first cup of coffee. Your other hand clasps your phone and you set it on the counter, moving to fill the jug or place a cup under the coffee maker. As it is brewing you move back to your phone and squint slightly and the welcoming lock screen…. Then you are in, checking emails, checking any texts you missed whilst asleep, checking LinkedIn and Instagram, reading the news. Whatever it is, you pause slightly and make that drink, then continue swiping while you sip. Then your day has begun, your phone is now alive and follows you everywhere. Constantly letting you know that there is something new for you to look at, new posts, new feeds, new emails, new texts, all crying for your attention.

OK, so that sounds like the start of a novel, but is it? I am sure that you can probably relate to this in some way. You may have a rule of not looking at your phone for the first thirty minutes of the morning but resistance is futile! Anyway, let me get to what I am talking about.

Throughout this day you are very interested in what is going on, rather than anybody collecting information on you. All this data coming from your unique IP address that is your connection to the internet. The website or service knows exactly where you are and the service provider whether it is your mobile provider or your house internet service, knows exactly what you are doing.

They know exactly how and when you are connecting to services as all of the data and requests go back and forward via that connection and they can see what is going on. They can tell how much time you spend on sites like amazon.com and Tik Tok and yes they will remember it. Once again building a unique profile of what your experience on the internet looks like.

If the internet is a city, and the services are buildings, then your provider is the road. Or even maybe the Uber driver. They know where you went and what time you went there. This is totally not cool, nobody wants to be tracked on the internet, right?

So what do you do about it?

You use a VPN service. Easy. Yes, it is easy actually. Let me explain what a VPN (Virtual Private Network) does. The VPN service connects your machine to a secure encrypted gateway. It sits between your ISP and the Internet. It means that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) can only see you talking to a VPN but cannot see anything else passed that point. You can surf Amazon or TikTok the entire day and the ISP only sees encrypted traffic between you and the VPN service. This is an important note because the data between you and the VPN is encrypted making it impossible to decipher by the ISP. In other words, the ISP has absolutely no idea what you are doing.

Think of it this way.

  1. You connect to the VPN service
  2. You login and it creates the encrypted channel to the internet
  3. You surf to any site you want
  4. The ISP only sees ‘unreadable’ encrypted traffic between you and the VPN
  5. Your browsing and web usage is now totally private

Is this for desktop/laptops only?

Definitely not. A VPN service can be installed on a phone giving that the same level of protection that you get on the traditional devices.

Does this make the internet slower?

Only by a fraction. The VPN service is a unique service that is not using a load of bandwidth to achieve. In my experience it only takes away about 2-3% of your overall speed. With todays speeds being incredibly high it is very unlikely that you would notice any difference in speed using a VPN.

Any other features?

Aha, now there is a cool thing. With a VPN provider like NordVPN, when you connect to the VPN service you can tell it what country you want to appear to be residing in. What’s the point in that you may ask? Well what if you wanted to watch an English TV channel that streams only to UK residents? Then you tell the connection to link you through with an IP address in the UK, et voila, English TV is ready for you. Or maybe you want to watch the V8 Supercars streaming in Australia. No worries, connect to the VPN and tell it Australia. Awesome for world sporting events.

Is this legal?

Absolutely legal. OK, so you are still bound to normal laws. I mean, you shouldn’t use the VPN for things like selling bad stuff or any other type of illegal internet activity. I do not condone that sort of thing at all. If you are planning anything criminal then my words of advise are simply, just don’t, OK.

Is it expensive?

Well you would probably think that it would be to be honest, seeing as you are able to keep everything totally private. But no, I don’t consider this to be an expensive option at all. There are plans from about $3.30 per month, so that is yes than a coffee at Starbucks.

How do I get this amazing VPN thingy then?

Glad you asked. Yes, I do have a recommendation on this. As I mentioned it earlier in this post. I have used NordVPN for a number of years on both desktop and mobile devices. In fact, when I wrote the article and did the YouTube video on how to prevent access to Office 365 from different countries I used the NordVPN service to show how this could be achieved.

To check out NordVPN further, click on the banner below.

To close on this, firstly “You’re welcome”. Secondly please remember that my YouTube channel is there for other tutorials, demos and walkthru’s. You can catch it at

https://youtube.com/thecloudgeezer

and don’t forget my Instagram account – https://instagram.com/thecloudgeezer

Cheers, Mark.

Mark Rochester
Mark Rochesterhttps://thecloudgeezer.com
Mark currently works in the cloud space assisting large companies to migrate from either on premises to the cloud, or cloud to cloud. His experience with Enterprise migrations spans more than 25 years which basically makes him old. However, with all the oldness creeping up he still finds technology massively exciting. Please reach out for a chat anytime you would like. :-)

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