Protecting Your Online Privacy

OK – So I guess I only needed a few minutes to test some stuff.

If you have a big enough Internet pipe, it doesn’t really matter what you do to protect your privacy, you’re still going to have an adequate browsing experience in terms of speed. Functionality, however, may be left behind.

I tested the Tor browser (https://www.torproject.org/), ExpressVPN (https://www.expressvpn.com) and PrivateInternetAccess (https://www.privateinternetaccess.com).

These tests are designed to thwart deep packet scanning that I suspect AT&T is utilizing to sniff browsing behavior. In this case, I doubt that the Tor browser did much good. The traffic still goes through AT&T before getting to the Tor network and then bounced around – a lot. Plus, it’s damn slow. Down/Up was 5Mbps/6Mbps. The reduction in speed is caused by all of the routes the packets have to travel – between proxies and surrogates it takes a long time to travel the breadth of the globe.

The only viable solution I can really think of is secure VPN – one that uses secure certificate key pairs to encrypt the traffic within the tunnel (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_private_network). Now, if they wanted to, AT&T certainly has the resources to quickly decrypt the data – but I doubt they would bother – the idea of snooping is to monetize usage, not spend valuable time and resources just for shits and giggles.

Speeds with the VPNs varied. PrivateInternetaccess is the fastest. They have a better network and more bandwidth. ExpressVPN was more secure, at least for anonymization – I connected to a server in NYC and the IP showed up in Singapore. But ExpressVPN was pretty slow in comparison – 10Mbps/13Mbps.

If a full-court press of Internet security is your thing, I’d suggest a VPN in a VPN. Get a router that has a built in VPN client (OpenVPN standard) and connect to the fasted VPN server – the one closest to you. Then setup the VPN software from a different VPN service and connect to a server somewhere in Asia. Then open up your tor browser and go to town – albeit at a snail’s pace.

Oh, and have a really really good disk scrubber or maybe a blowtorch handy – because whatever you’re doing that needs that kind of secure channel has to be something you never want another soul to find out about; and while the connection may be really private, the data that gets stored on your hard drive isn’t – so you’ll want to wipe the disk with a 35+ pass surface wipe or just take the hard drive out and melt it.

About John Boatner 9 Articles
John is currently a technical lead for a major remote technical support company and has over 30 years of experience working with personal computers, servers and networks. John also blogs on his personal, socio-political website https://johnboatner.com

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