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84

So, yes, they appear to have a deal with the Telecommunication Providers in different Countries. Well that's ONE explanation. Another one that I like better is simply that they have all their users' contact lists, thanks to their mobile application which no doubt reads everything and sends it back to their headquarters. All they have to do after you ...


51

I've researched this subject for more than 3 years*: Looking for VPN providers, reading through their Privacy Policy and Legal pages, contacting them, contacting their ISPs when possible, and I've concluded the following: I was able to find zero reputable/trustworthy and publicly-available (free or paid) VPN service provider that: Actually doesn't keep ...


37

If you're using a machine controlled by the LAN administrator, then you have to assume they can read anything you do on it. They could have software to log your activity, they could have installed extra SSL certificates that allow them to MITM your connection to GMail. If you believe your computer has not been tampered with and is not under the control of ...


26

VPN means "Virtual Private Network". It is a generic concept which designates a part of a bigger network (e.g. the Internet at large) which is logically isolated from the bigger network through non-hardware means (that's what "virtual" means): it is not that we are using distinct cables and switches; rather, isolation is performed through use of ...


26

They're requesting your MAC address because they're using MAC filtering to control access to the WiFi network. That does not in and of itself constitute the ability to see what you're doing when you're on the school's network, and certainly not when you're at home. If this is the only requirement, and they are not also requiring you to install things ...


24

2 reasons: Asymmetric encryption is slower, much slower, than symmetric encryption. Orders of magnitude slower. Given the same keylength, asymmetric is much weaker than symmetric, bit-for-bit. Therefore, you need a much larger key to provide equivalent protection. This also contributes to the slowness mentioned in 1. (As per @ThomasPornin's comment:) ...


22

To complement @David's and @Steve's answers: If the attacker ("Adam", in your case) has administrative access to your machine, then he can learn all your secrets. Installing an extra root CA, under his control, to run routine MitM interception on your SSL connections is a popular tools for honest (but nosy) sysadmins: it is a one-time installation which ...


20

If you consent, Firefox gathers information about nearby wireless access points and your computer’s IP address. Then Firefox sends this information to the default geolocation service provider... https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/geolocation/ Firefox knows the IP address, which is used to connect to the VPN provider. Many geolocation services, ...


19

The cryptography involved in the VPN is designed precisely to keep your data safe even in the situation of an attacker who can intercept all traffic; the best an attacker could do in that situation is to disrupt traffic (namely, cutting off the wires). Both SSL, and IPsec-with-IKE, use cryptography in proper ways, so there should be no qualitative ...


19

As someone who has been heavily involved in one darknet (Anonet) and helped start another (Underlink, which is now mostly defunct), I will attempt to share my experiences and understanding of them here. Please feel free to edit this answer to provide additional details or to correct anything. Definition "Darknet" is a tricky word that has a few different ...


19

Most anonymizing services who claim that they "don't keep logs" actually do keep logs, because otherwise they would be in even deeper trouble when the Feds drop on them at 6:00 AM with terrorism charges. A VPN service like the ones you quote is basically saying: "yeah, we accept to take full legal responsibility for everything you do online for only 7$ per ...


17

As David says, the provider of your network usually can't see data passed over https connections. However, your Gmail address is not necessarily passed only over https connections. For example, if you log into StackExchange using your secret Gmail account and visit the http (not https) version of your user profile page, then your Gmail address is sent to ...


17

Repeat the same process, but use a new prepaid phone number. If they can still guess who you are then it is freaky. If not, then it is probably your friends' contact lists which have been sucked up into Facebook. It would be an interesting exercise to try the same, but with your work number and see what kind of connections Facebook infers from that.


17

Your carrier certainly sees the target IP address of the packets that you are asking them to transmit. The carrier's job is to, indeed, carry your packets from your phone to the base station, and, from that base station, to route it to the nearest infrastructure link so that it may reach its ultimate destination. In your case, all the packets that you send ...


16

Your forum accepts posts from anybody. That is your core problem. Connecting to your site from various IP throughout the world is trivial, if only by using Tor. Tor provides "high anonymity" in that not only the user's identity is hidden, but each request is anonymous -- you cannot, from the outside, make sure whether two distinct requests are from the same ...


16

@Xander is partly right. Documenting your MAC address allows them to do one (or more, or all) of a few things: MAC Address Filtering The school may be using MAC address filtering to (try) to keep unauthorized devices off of the network. While this is easily bypassed, once an attacker knows an authorized address, it does make joining the network a bit more ...


15

A VPN is for wrapping raw IP packets into some kind of "tunnel" between two sites (one of the site being possibly reduced to one computer, i.e. yours). TCP is a protocol which sits on top of IP, and uses IP packets (which are "unreliable": they can get lost, duplicated, reordered...) to provide a reliable two-directional channel for data bytes, where bytes ...


13

One possibility is that modern browsers support a feature called the Geolocation API which states the following: Common sources of location information include Global Positioning System (GPS) and location inferred from network signals such as IP address, RFID, WiFi and Bluetooth MAC addresses, and GSM/CDMA cell IDs, as well as user input. No ...


13

Asymmetric encryption algorithms are far less efficient than symmetric algorithms. So essentially all use of encryption via asymmetric keys involves encrypting a symmetric session key, with which the actual message is encrypted. Besides AviD's helpful notes about key length, note that if quantum computing attacks become feasible, they will render all ...


13

Yes, a VPN connection encrypts the connection between your computer and the remote VPN host. The connection would just look like gibberish to anyone sniffing the traffic, either in the coffee shop or on the Internet. It is worth noting that the same applies to any content sent over HTTPS even if you aren't using a VPN. It is also worth noting that if you ...


13

If you give them the username and password of your personal home router then they could (depending on model and firmware) configure it to log your traffic and forward the logs to them, or do other unethical things as described in this question. It's very unlikely that they would use the credentials to do such things, however I would refuse to give them ...


13

More precisely, from the privacy policy for the VPN service: We will store a time stamp and IP address when you connect and disconnect to our VPN service together with the IP address of the individual VPN server used by you. We do not store details of, or monitor, the websites you connect to when using our VPN service. In other words, they log that ...


12

IPsec is actually a family of protocols, it has several sub-protocols that could be used or not used, and the overall security depends on each of these in turn and how they're configured: IKE for protocol negotiation and key management AH for authentication, integrity and I think some protocol protection ESP for encryption and then some. Advantages: ...


11

There isn't really enough information out there to know exactly what is being collected, but if most of it is meta data in nature or user records from services, then a VPN isn't really relevant. For the first situation (phone/Internet connection meta-data), the contents are not being requested, but only what connections are made. While the contents of your ...


11

You might use low-bandwidth sidechannels. For example, one could set up a site offering pictures, and the site could sport a "thumbnail wall". HTTP protocol allows for requesting those thumbnails in any order, which means that using twenty pictures you can encode up to 20! (i.e., around 60 bits) in the request scheme. There is no way of detecting or blocking ...


11

This depends on whether you are worried about being convicted, or dealing with probable cause (in the U.S.). Let's assume that you are at home. You start up your VPN and connect to your offsite VPN provider. If I am monitoring outgoing traffic (from your house), I know that you just connected to a certain IP address, and that the IP address is a VPN ...


11

Depending on how your VPN is configured, you might or might not use the same DNS for your VPN and for Internet. VPN's are (typically) like an additional IP stack on your system, and can have a separate DNS server address configured. But not all systems do this. If your VPN does not assign a new DNS for the VPN session then you will continue to use the DNS ...


11

A VPN means your connections pass through one other server. The administrator of your network can't see anything but the fact that you're talking to that VPN server; the administrator of the computer you're ultimately connecting to generally can't see your real source address (though they can see that you're connecting from a given VPN service); but the VPN ...


10

I have to say that in my opinion, VPN is very overrated in terms of privacy. It's meant to tunnel your private data over an insecure medium, so provide confidentiality from your VPN client to your VPN server, and only between these points. The way from your application to your VPN client and the whole way from your VPN server to your wanted destionation ...


10

Connecting to VPN and using the Internet in the scenario you described is actually very secure. In the case you're talking about (mutual authentication), it is safe to say that ISPs aren't able to intercept and eavesdrop on the connection to know what the user is doing. However, in the example you made about war situations, government agencies don't just ...



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