Earlier this week week, Congress voted to repeal Internet privacy restrictions. Once Trump signs it, which he is expected to do, it will strip away the online privacy rights of American citizens, allowing companies to buy your data.
Understandably, this has led people to start considering setting up Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). If you value your privacy, you may want to do the same.
A VPN is basically a private network that gives you an encrypted connection to the Internet. It makes it more difficult for people to eavesdrop on what you’re doing, and you can also use it to change your location to access sites or other material blocked in your country – like Facebook in China.
So, to protect yourself in the upcoming Internet war, here are a few tips.
First, the simplest way to set up a VPN according to Quincy Larson, a teacher at Free Code Camp writing for Medium, is to use the Opera browser. All you need to do is download it, turn on its ad blocker in the preferences, turn on its VPN, and then install a program called HTTPS Everywhere. You can install this on other browsers too. It ensures that you surf the web using the more encrypted HTTPS format.
If you want to take things a bit further, you can pay for a monthly VPN service, and there's a lot of choice on offer. As Wired notes, “there may be no such thing as a ‘best’ VPN. You’re simply looking for something with the best chance of working as advertised.” But they offer two suggestions: F-Secure Freedome or Private Internet Access.
Once you’ve got your VPN set up, you’ll be able to access it from your various devices. Some also have a “kill switch” to terminate certain programs if your connection becomes unstable. And you can use ipleak.net to see how secure your connection is.
A more extreme measure is to use Tor, which basically bounces your connection around other users around the world. Larson has a good run-through of how to set it up here.
The Verge cautions, though, that using Tor “can be a much slower, less convenient browsing experience than most people are used to.” So it may not be for everyone.
Unfortunately, there’s no perfect solution to browsing the web with ease while also completely avoiding being snooped on. But there are at least a few steps you can take to make things that little bit more secure.