VPNs were once a tool only used by very few people. This was back when everyone just assumed that your online security would be taken care of for you. With all of the hacks going on lately, against even the once thought of most secure online companies, we know that this is not the case.
This has lead to many people starting to use VPN services, but are they using them to their fullest potential? The case is often a big ‘NO’ as new users are simply downloading their VPN client and connecting. They’re not doing everything they can to make their experience more anonymous, and as secure as possible.
This article will help you take your privacy to another level starting from the beginning moments of getting and setting up your account. I’ll also show you some testing techniques so that you can see that you’re secure.
Maximizing the online security & privacy of your VPN
Choose a VPN that does not log
There are many VPNs out there and they cover a wide range of needs. Some people don’t need a VPN that completely hides them, they just want to unlock a few geoblocks for content they wish to enjoy. For those who want maximum privacy, and the ability to not have someone track their VPN account back to them, you need a no-log VPN.
Be sure to read the privacy policies of the VPN you want to sign up for. If they log data of some sort they’re not going to help you stay completely anonymous. Look for VPNs which do not log any data, such as IPVanish and Private Internet Access, or that only log data usage statistics which are deleted. The better of those two choices should be painfully clear.
Pay and sign up for your VPN anonymously
If you choose a completely anonymous VPN, but then pay with your credit card, you could have that information traced back to you. Your choices here can involve paying with Bitcoin, an anonymous online currency. Using your Bitcoins through TOR, another anonymity tool, will hide your IP address until you have your VPN up and running. Be sure to use anonymous Bitcoin purchasing methods, such as buying them in person with cash.
When you sign up for the VPN that you have chosen use a different email than your main one. Don’t use any identifying information either when you sign up for that. Yes, if you want greater anonymity you’re going to have to work at it, but it will be worth it in the long run!
Securing your VPN against dropped connections
A VPN is a technological tool. Like all tools you’ll use it will occasionally fail. One of the most common things for VPN users to dread is when they set up an anonymous file transfer, walk away from their computer, and come back to find that their VPN disconnected while the file transfer continued. This is a major issue as you just went from having privacy to not having privacy.
Fortunately there are a number of tools that can help you when your connection drops. The first is a VPN kill switch. This is a tool built into some of the clients from VPN providers. It serves to completely disconnect your entire Internet connection when it detects a change in your IP address. Make sure this feature is turned on and you’ll never have this issue again. Sure, you’ll miss out on getting your file transfer done, but you won’t miss out on your anonymity.
If your VPN doesn’t have a VPN kill switch built into it you don’t have to worry. There are other tools you can use when your VPN disconnects:
- VPNCheck: Can shutdown your entire connection, or just specific programs like your torrent client, when your VPN drops. It will show you a notification box when this occurs.
- VPNNetMon: Works similar to the above tool. Older, may not be compatible with newer OS.
- Changing Firewall and TCP/IP rules: If you’re reading this you likely have no idea what I’m talking about. If I were you I’d keep things simple and choose a VPN with a kill switch, or the two tools above.
- Vuze for downloads: Vuze is a bittorrent client that has its own kill switch built into it. This will kill all downloads going through Vuze if it senses a change in the IP address.
Which method you choose depends on your needs. If I were you I’d choose a VPN that has a kill switch built into it already and go from there.
Check your VPN for DNS leaks
DNS leaks occur when a DNS query accidentally bypasses the routing table/gateway of an OpenVPN server. This will expose your information and break your privacy. While it is not a very frequent issue, you should take a second to check your VPN for DNS leaks.
I personally use https://ipleak.net as it shows not only DNS leaks, but IP address leaks as well. Get more for your time and check both of these vital pieces of information for leaks at once. If you notice either leaking it’s time to immediately contact your VPN provider to sort out the issue.
Having an anonymous and secure Internet connection
100% online anonymity is very difficult to achieve online, butt you can still greatly improve upon the standard security of a VPN. Once you have all of these tools in place, be sure to check up on them periodically to know that they’re still working correctly. Do not just assume you have privacy, actively test it as making assumptions about online privacy and security is how we all got into this mess in the first place!