Why do I need a VPN?

TLDR: Straight to the point.
You probably don't...

Technology has allowed us to accomplish so many things, this includes making affiliate marketers rich. It's sad but it is damn near impossible to view anything online that isn't monitized by something or someone. The web is filled with bloggers (predators) earning a metric f&#k-ton annually off scaring people into buying shit they don't need. So, welcome to the first post of a pissed off engineer... "Hi, I'm Josh!" blah fucking blah. My day job is an under appreciated father and husband, by night I work full time as a Security Engineer for a global network communications provider that will rename nameless. I am starting off on this topic for two reasons.

  1. All too often are people scared into buying services they don't need by an ignorant jackass blogger that over promises (provides complete internet safety while making you untrackable and does your laundry too!) and under-delivers (that ransomware is still going to get your ass) driving the sales of a crap VPN service which offers no privacy or protections to their subscribers
  2. People with no qualification or background in technology are fear exploiting content so you buy needless shit, earning them a metric f*#k-ton annually. Yet some of us who are qualified are barely keeping things afloat while having a family. It's bullshit. Nope, I'm not bitter at all. lol

Next time you find yourself reading an article on VPN subject matter and are considering a purchase. Please review this article to help seperate the facts from bullshit. There is enough of it out there...

What is a VPN?

Typically a VPN allows the extension of a private network (example: network of computers in a home or small business) to an external resource over public internet. Upon connecting to the VPN, the connected device will have access to the same resources as any other system on the private network. Examples provided below.

  • shared network resources such as files and folders
  • printers
  • access to systems within private network using non-public address space (ex: 192.168.0.121 / 172.16.0.233 / 10.1.0.155) and hostnames within that network's local domain

The Misleading Truth About Subscription VPN Service.

Everything I have described in "What is a VPN" is not provided by subscription based VPN service. If you want any of those capabilities you would need to host your own VPN to access network resources from afar. I will put together a few guides on configuring this type of VPN solution in the near future. Unfortunately subscription based VPN solutions only provide a limited set of features.

  • Basic Anonymity: Your internet traffic will appear or originate from the provider's IPv4 address and geo-location. You will not be completely anonymous, WebRTC can leak your actual IPv4 and you can still be identified from meta-data of the websites you access.
  • Traffic Encryption: Traffic transmitted from your PC to the VPN service provider will be encrypted, but don't be fooled. Use of ANY unencrypted protocols or websites will still transmit packets in plaintext when transmitted from the VPN service provider and the remote target.

    If someone is connected to the same network as you and are using WireShark to capture your network traffic, they wouldn't be able to see the unencrypted traffic due to the VPN's encryption. But lets say this same person was on a network somewhere between the VPN provider and the remote host, they could easily intercept the unencrypted traffic.

    Long story short... despite the vast numbers of claims, a VPN does not entirely encrypt transmitted data. Encryption only occurs between the client and the VPN provider, beyond that... good luck. Only recently has SSL usage become a standard practice for most websites and applications. Prior to this you could view every single http transaction. SSL provides another layer of much-needed security to prevent prying eyes from seeing anything other than an encrypted stream had occurred between point A and point B.
  • Torrent Proxy: Many VPN service providers will offer a proxy service to their subscribers. This is another method to avoid exposing your IP address and location but traffic is unencrypted. Using a proxy is an effective way to make traffic of a specific application (browser, torrent-client) appear to originate from the IPv4 address of the service provider. Proxy servers intended for torrent use will usually reside in countries which there are no laws against piracy, such as Netherlands.

Part 2 - Pull the Trigger, or NOT.

  • Is there a legitimate need for a VPN?
  • Usage Requirements
  • Other Options
  • Choosing a VPN Service
  • Common Issues of Subscription VPN Service