VPN Question

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Faromir
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VPN Question

Post by Faromir » Tue Jul 20, 2021 9:21 am

First I apologize if there’s already a thread that answers this, I tried a search for VPN but as that term is only 3 characters long it won’t allow me to use it as a search term. I did page back a couple pages in Tech Corner, found one thread titled “Internet Privacy” but it doesn’t directly answer my question.

If I use a VPN to connect and Chrome in incognito mode as my browser, how anonymous am I if I post something, not on GBN but on other sites such as FB or as comments on a news story etc? Specifics are Mediacomm is my ISP, NordVPN is my VPN. There’s an upcoming election in Cedar Rapids that looks like it may get nasty (and therefore entertaining) and I’m thinking it might be fun to weigh in and stir the pot occasionally, but doing so could potentially have negative effects on me in my real life. So I was thinking of creating a new online identity, at least for FB as a start with new gmail account obviously using a fake name and if required fake address, to use for posting. If I do that, how easily can said posts be tracked back to me?

Any other suggestions for things I should do to enhance my anonymity?

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Re: VPN Question

Post by iowanprimate » Tue Jul 20, 2021 9:51 am

Incognito mode in Chrome (or private mode in any other browser) won't do squat for Internet anonymity. It just makes sure nothing lingers in cache, and prevents cookies from being saved (mostly handy for tech-challenged spouses and the like). A decent VPN will go a long way towards masking your identity. NordVPN, Duck Duck GO, and a few others are well known vendors, all have strict no log policies, and will even let you select at least the countries from which you'd like to surf. The skills/clout required to get beyond a competent VPN would imply a crime has been committed, or you're stirring a pot of nitroglycerine with specific insider info that has powerful people suspecting you. If you're really paranoid, there are some companies that will provide multiple hop VPNs, or you could even subscribe to multiple services. You could even get really paranoid, and bounce everything through a TOR router (if they are still around)...

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Re: VPN Question

Post by ShyDaniel » Tue Jul 20, 2021 10:35 am

Sorry, I couldn't resist:)
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Faromir
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Re: VPN Question

Post by Faromir » Tue Jul 20, 2021 1:40 pm

iowanprimate wrote:
Tue Jul 20, 2021 9:51 am
Incognito mode in Chrome (or private mode in any other browser) won't do squat for Internet anonymity. It just makes sure nothing lingers in cache, and prevents cookies from being saved (mostly handy for tech-challenged spouses and the like). A decent VPN will go a long way towards masking your identity. NordVPN, Duck Duck GO, and a few others are well known vendors, all have strict no log policies, and will even let you select at least the countries from which you'd like to surf. The skills/clout required to get beyond a competent VPN would imply a crime has been committed, or you're stirring a pot of nitroglycerine with specific insider info that has powerful people suspecting you. If you're really paranoid, there are some companies that will provide multiple hop VPNs, or you could even subscribe to multiple services. You could even get really paranoid, and bounce everything through a TOR router (if they are still around)...
Thanks for the info, although most of what you said after If you're really paranoid... went over my head!

I get you on the incognito/private browsing, but the spouse is one of the ways I could get into deep :poop: over some of the things I'm thinking of pointing out to some of her self righteous / self important friends. After over 4 decades of marriage I have largely learned to keep my mouth shut and my opinions to myself if I even think they might be different from hers.

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Faromir
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Re: VPN Question

Post by Faromir » Tue Jul 20, 2021 1:42 pm

Shy - I get you and I gotta say you're probably right. There a better and most likely much more pleasant ways I could spend my time, especially is some companions would decide to visit my area

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Re: VPN Question

Post by YetAnotherHobbist » Wed Jul 21, 2021 11:09 pm

Another bit of advice I'd have is to think about your smartphone, too. Some of us may browse sites through our smartphones, and people could use that to track other people down (see this for a case study: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/202 ... of-grindr/ )
On my smartphone, I've installed an app called "1.1.1.1" by Cloudflare (one of the people who sell Internet acceleration services to businesses). The app acts like a VPN, encrypting (hiding) site address (DNS) lookups so your phone carrier cannot tell which sites you're visiting. It can also speed up content retrieval by routing it through their content delivery network. Both of these are things that VPN services offer, and the Cloudflare folks offer some of the same anonymity guarantees that VPN companies offer.
(It looks like this is how they tracked down who the person was in the article quoted above - they got a list of web sites accessed and what location the person was at when browsing to those sites - and there's very few people who would be at this person's home, work, relatives' homes, with the frequency he was there...).
On your home wired network, a VPN may be the way to go - and it offers a few additional guarantees beyond what this cloudflare service offers (like mapping your access so they look like they're coming from elsewhere :-)).

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Faromir
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Re: VPN Question

Post by Faromir » Thu Jul 22, 2021 8:16 am

Yet - As I understand it, since I have my VPN installed and active on my phone and iPad, as well as my computer, I should be covered if I were to use those devices?

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Re: VPN Question

Post by YetAnotherHobbist » Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:47 pm

Faromir wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 8:16 am
Yet - As I understand it, since I have my VPN installed and active on my phone and iPad, as well as my computer, I should be covered if I were to use those devices?
I think so, yes - once you have a VPN installed and active, I don't think anyone can track you by the traffic you generate (like what sites you visit) - as long as the VPN Contractor is trustworthy (things like them promising not to keep logs of who was connected when, and having a verifiable means to show they do stick by those promises). I think NordVPN has a good reputation :-) - just don't tinker with its defaults, and you should be ok.

To be honest, I think your biggest concern ought to be your SO looking over your shoulder as you type :-)

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