Recently I have been getting more and more interested in the security (privacy and anonymity) issues of my online life. Not that I have anything to hide, or that what I do online is so interesting to others, but I just want to know what I can do to remain as safe (and anonymous) as possible.
I feel it is my right as a citizen of a free, democratic, society to be anonymous when I want to be. Not because I want to do anything illegal, but because I feel my privacy is being violated by big companies like google, facebook and even by my own government.
So that is why I have been looking into methods of ensuring my online anonymity (and therefore freedom). The best method I have found so far (as a noob in online anonymity) is a VPN (as opposed to tor, which is too slow for my day to day surfing needs). They offer a multihop VPN, use OpenVPN, aren't terribly expensive, don't log data and provide anonymous methods of payment.
My question is: is a VPN a good method for ensuring my online anonymity? More specifically:
- How do I know if I can trust them?
- What are the risks of using a VPN service?
- Would transferring my online activity to servers abroad mean I am subject to the laws of those other countries, or would I still only be subject to the laws of my own country?
- Can I relay my (imap and smtp) email traffic through them?
- Can I use the service combined with Tor and Tails for extra security, or is that not possible (or useful)?
I hope the questions are clear enough, and to be perfectly clear about my intentions: I am not a hacker looking to cover up my tracks or anything. I wouldn't even know how to hack something if the password were written on my forehead: I am just a person concerned with my online freedom, see also: reasons for anonymity