Computer Help forum

Question

General questions about VPNs and computer security

by janre75 / November 5, 2012 11:50 AM PST

I want to set up a VPN on my laptop and home network in order to beef up my security and privacy. But I have a few questions

Does a VPN really allow you to anonymously use the Internet, download, stream, ect? Will a VPN cripple my connection speed? Who/what will be able to see my computer, history, and traffic (hackers, ISP, network intruders)? Will this work when I'm not on my home network (if I'm on a public network, friend's network, using a mobile hotspot)? Do I set this up on my computer or my router?

I'm not looking to do anything nefarious or legal I'm just realizing how lax my security is, also I'm tired of getting my computer hacked. Twice someone has accessed to my built-in WebCam, luckily I caught the intrusions early and took care of the problem but I want to make sure this doesn't happen again. I'm also generally concerned about being tracked online, I'm not worried that the government is watching me I'm worried everyone else is (ISP, websites, databases). I do have an antivirus and anti-malware program on my computer I keep them updated and run scans regularly but I'm now realizing that this is not enough and I know I'm little late to the game.

Current computer security
Microsoft security essentials
Malwarebytes
Windows provided firewall
Firewall built into my router

Computer
Dell laptop (4 years old)
Windows 7 ultimate 32 bit

If a VPN and what I already do is not enough what else should I be doing?

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All Answers

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Answer
With those russian vpns in the news.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 5, 2012 12:31 PM PST

Let's hope you don't fall for that trap. And I'm a little unsure why you think this will hide your activities. I can only guess you haven't read much about honey pots, the FBI Going Dark program and such?
Bob

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Answer
Rootkit?
by mchainmchain / November 6, 2012 5:37 AM PST

Infected twice so far? If so, you can have multiples.

Have you checked for that? That may be your real issue.

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Answer
Probably don't need a VPN
by adeliarisk / November 7, 2012 9:31 PM PST

Hi, here's the deal. A VPN only secures your connection between your computer and some server somewhere. Lets say you have a server at home or at work that you want to access from a coffeeshop or a hotel, then a VPN is the way to do that. But using a VPN by itself isn't going to keep you any safer from viruses while being online.

So now we should walk through some tests to see what the issue might be:

1) Is your Windows Firewall and router firewall set up properly? You can check by using the site Shield's Up (http://lifehacker.com/5511734/shieldsup-tests-your-firewall-for-vulnerabilities) to probe the first 1,000 ports on your computer. It's far from a comprehensive scan, but if you run it and see red or blue, then your firewalls aren't configured properly.

2) It might be worth replacing MS Security Essentials. A recent review rated Kapersky and Avast as the best antivirus products. Honestly, the "best" antivirus changes by day and based on the threat, but it might be worth giving them a try. https://www.nsslabs.com/reports/consumer-avepp-comparative-analysis-exploit-protection

3) How often do your run Malwarebytes scans? Making it part of your weekly routine is a good idea.

4) Have you changed the password on BOTH your router and your machine so they're non-default and strong? If not, do so immediately.

5) The most likely path for malware getting on to your machine is from clicking on a link in an email, opening an email attachment, or clicking on a link on sites like Facebook or Twitter. You really shouldn't click on any links in email, but instead go directly to the site that the email links to. Take this phishing quiz to see how good you are at recognizing attacks in email: http://www.opendns.com/phishing-quiz/. You should research some of your privacy options in Facebook, too -- plenty posted online about that.

6) If you're worried about privacy while browsing, you should use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Also get extensions / add-ons AdBlock Plus, Ghostery, and WOT (Web of Trust). Those three will give you a lot more visibility and control over what websites are doing.

7) Answer this question in your head -- have you installed any pirated software, and downloaded any pirated movies on the internet? If so, that's a very likely way for malware to get onto your machine. Cut it out. Happy
Cool Your ISP can pretty much see everything you do. If you connect to websites using HTTPS (type "https://" in your address bar), then they can still see where you go, but they can't see the content of what you access. If you *really* want to be sure that what you're doing is private, check out ToR (https://www.torproject.org/).

Good luck, hope that helps.
Josh

AdeliaRisk


Note: This post was edited by a forum moderator to remove signature link which is prohibited in these forums on 11/08/2012 at 9:00 AM PT

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