There are lots of tools and software that can help maintain your privacy online.  For many of us this is an important issue, but there are some people who it can actually be a matter of life and death.  Normal web transactions are simple to monitor and track especially if you have access to ISP log files.  The main problem is that the fundamental transport protocol of the web is HTTP and it does most things in clear text.

Which means that unless you do something about it, everything you do online is potentially in the public domain. Every web site you visit, every video you watch or comment you make, will be recorded and will be accessible by anyone with the right access.   If you live in a place where free speech is suppressed then this is especially dangerous, to both your life an liberty.

One of the most important steps you can take to keeping secure online is to use a VPN.  This is a virtual private network and is essentially an encrypted tunnel which ensures everything you do online is protected within the tunnel.  Of course your data will still have to travel through your ISP, there is no way around this.  However the data stored there will be encrypted, there will be no record of what you do online or what sites you visit.

There are some important points to remember though when choosing a service.  First of all, remember a proxy is not a VPN, there is little protection given by using a proxy server particularly a hacked, free one full of viruses, malware and identity thieves.  Secondly the location of the VPN connection is also important, you’d be mad to use a Thai, Iranian or Turkish VPN for example – these countries all routinely monitor network connections.  It’s sensible to use one terminated somewhere with proper privacy legislation like the USA or Europe.  If you want to watch something online which is normally blocked then consider this when making your choice.

Just to explain, if you want to watch something like the BBC iPlayer from outside Britain then you’ll need a UK based server.   If you connect through a UK VPN like this one – , this is because one of the benefits of using a VPN is that your connection will appear to come from the terminating point.

The choice also depends on the way you access the internet, there are different options depending on the platforms that are used.  Most of the leading VPN providers will have versions that work on PCs and Macs but some people use Android tablets, Smart phones or even their TVs to access the web.  In these cases it’s best to look for  the facility to set up their VPN connections manually, this will allow you to use the service on virtually any platform.  In fact it also would allow you to set up the connection on your router too, which will enable all devices to be protected by the VPN and encryption.

Jeff Harris

How to Watch BBC in USA