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Security -or- do I really need a VPN
#1
I know that I've upset some new users when, in chat or a PM, I'll comment about their location.

Let's face it, about 1/2 of our new "users" are spammers and I've tried over the years to keep this a secure and clean website.  We want to be able to talk about what we want to without someone knowing much, if anything, about us.  One of the ways that I keep us secure is by monitoring who logs in from where - most spammers come from Russia, Thailand, etc.  More importantly, I check to see if the IP (Internet Provider) address is on one of the blacklist sites (sites that have lists of the IP's used by spammers).

I am not trying to intrude on your personal privacy, unless you mention where you're from I never will

One of the sites I use to check IP addresses is StopForumSpam, they're one of the better "blacklist" sites.  I also use WhatIsMyIP which shows the location of the IP through which you're reaching us.  At no time do I really know your specific location, just a general location.

Okay ... WhatIsMyIP is offering an e-book about how to keep yourself safe on the internet. While I consider myself somewhat of a techy, there were some comments in it that were new to me.  Times change, things happen and staying abreast with those changes helps.  One of their recommendations is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network).  I use Firefox almost exclusively as my browser and there is an add-on (ZenMate) that allows you to automatically set up a free VPN that selects from five different locations through which to route your traffic - in fact, if you use a VPN any web site you visit will "think" you're located in someplace that you're (probably) not.  For example, I currently am being routed through their British hub so it appears as if I'm in London, UK.

One of the concerns I've seen with using a VPN is a possible loss of speed.  My download speed without the VPN is 3.02Mbps while with the VPN it's 2.98Mbps ... a slight but insignificant loss of speed for added security.

Your opinions and concerns are important to me, feel free to comment //al
We live by each other and for each other. Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.
-- Helen Keller
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#2
For the majority of people, I think, it doesn't really matter. The IP address, as I've said, doesn't give your location but the location of the provider. Some IP's are more specific, others less. Mine, for example, shows me in Terlingua while the IP address is in Alpine. If, for whatever reason, a company were to get a court order (a warrant) they could require my IP to give my location based on the IP address I was using at the time.

Let's assume, for sake of argument that I wanted to upload my collection of rock music from the 60's and 70's (ludicrous at first blush, I have none). If the record company wanted to, they could go to court, get a warrant forcing my IP provider to tell them who was using a particular IP address at some specific time, then get a warrant directed at me personally. Probably not something I'd appreciate if I had a collection of illegal music.

On the other hand, and this is where it becomes important, it becomes much more difficult if it appears as if I'm located in some other country. The record company has to convince a judge (or equivalent) in that country that they require the VPN provider to give them the link from which they see me originating and if I'm a smart techy, I don't go through just one VPN I go through several so they have to get court orders from each of the national entities through which my traffic passes. Privacy has become a very strict matter in some European countries, and add to that that many VPN's intentionally DO NOT maintain the originating link - they can't be forced to provide what they don't have.

Suffice it to say, if you don't want someone to know where you are using a VPN is one way to do it.
We live by each other and for each other. Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.
-- Helen Keller
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#3
I realize this is really old but I was attempting to understand VPNs a week or two ago and I'm really not sure I'm getting it at all.

I use Chrome and I downloaded and extension for it but I don't know if that's something that automatically starts when I log in or if I have to do something to enable it.

Also, with my phone and tablet they seem to have an option for VPN but I don't know how that works either. If this is too much to explain don't worry about it. If you can just answer about the extension that would be really helpful.

One of my problems with my memory now is following instructions so, though I am smart enough, it gets jumbled and I give up because I'm overwhelmed.
My name is Trouble
My first name's A Mess
No need to greet me
I'm here to confess

- Keren Ann
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#4
As I mention in one of the earlier messages, I use ZenMate on both FireFox and Chrome. Why? Well, for starters it's free - and free is good, yes? - there are times I want to appear as if I'm coming from one of their locations (don't be obnoxious and ask why, please). They have four free locations:
Somewhere in the US
Hong Kong
Somewhere in Germany
Somewhere in Romania

ZenMate is simple, you click on the icon on the top bar and it'll tell you what location you're using and then you have the option of changing it to one of the other locations.
We live by each other and for each other. Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.
-- Helen Keller
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#5
Thank you, I thought it was only for FireFox. I'll look for it and that should be good for all of my devices.
My name is Trouble
My first name's A Mess
No need to greet me
I'm here to confess

- Keren Ann
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#6
(02-04-2015, 01:32 PM)Dragon Wrote: For the majority of people, I think, it doesn't really matter.  The IP address, as I've said, doesn't give your location but the location of the provider.  Some IP's are more specific, others less.  Mine, for example, shows me in Terlingua while the IP address is in Alpine.  If, for whatever reason, a company were to get a court order (a warrant) they could require my IP to give my location based on the IP address I was using at the time.

Let's assume, for sake of argument that I wanted to upload my collection of rock music from the 60's and 70's (ludicrous at first blush, I have none).  If the record company wanted to, they could go to court, get a warrant forcing my IP provider to tell them who was using a particular IP address at some specific time, then get a warrant directed at me personally.  Probably not something I'd appreciate if I had a collection of illegal music.

On the other hand, and this is where it becomes important, it becomes much more difficult if it appears as if I'm located in some other country.  The record company has to convince a judge (or equivalent) in that country that they require the VPN provider to give them the link from which they see me originating and if I'm a smart techy, I don't go through just one VPN I go through several so they have to get court orders from each of the national entities through which my traffic passes.  Privacy has become a very strict matter in some European countries, and add to that that many VPN's intentionally DO NOT maintain the originating link - they can't be forced to provide what they don't have.

Suffice it to say, if you don't want someone to know where you are using a VPN is one way to do it.

This message is to ShinyShiny. I pray you are still around. I really want to talk to you one on one.... Let me know if it's ok that we chat in private. I think we would mesh together well......
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#7
Since I'm the administrator here, I'm probably still around. Chat does work, but it's easier to pass messages through the PM system. I show as almost always being on since CSS is an open tab in FF - that doesn't mean that I always pay attention to the various noises FF makes.

You say that that is too Shinyshiny, care to explain your thoughts?
We live by each other and for each other. Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.
-- Helen Keller
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