Why you should be worried if your internet provider is in Australia
Australian government started enforcing data retention law on October 13, 2015,
According to the new law, Australian phone and internet providers have to store internet user data for two years.- WHAT!? Not sure about you, but I use my computer like a diary and 2 years of data is … let’s just say – *^(*load of personal info.
The law is still not fully functional, because the costs of implementing it and running it are bonkers expensive. Now imagine my data and yours and… the data of millions of Australians, just sitting there – while telecom and government staff share, copy, move it around, file it, show to someone, mix it with census data… what can go wrong? Let’s just say hackers would love to and will likely try to find out.
Is there a way to protect yourself from getting your data stored? The answer is yes and most Australians know the secret. The magic trick – using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Once the Australian government passed the mandatory data retention law – those in the know, went shopping for VPNs. The percentage of Australians using VPN services has gone through the roof, with NordVPN, one of major providers, gaining 300 percent more users in Australia.
VPN services have been a go to solution to avoid data retention laws
So, how does this VPN work? To put it simply: VPN hides (encrypts) your true internet identity. This means, your internet provider cannot see what you do online and cannot collect the data – because… it cannot see it. The tech speak: “Connecting to a VPN server would make your IP address and any data you enter into your computer invisible to a third party.” A VPN encrypts your data (while some VPNs are even capable of encrypting it twice) acting like a tunnel that hides your real internet provider assigned IP address.
Bonus: this tool also allows you to unblock popular websites and services that are unavailable in Australia (i.e. US Netflix or BBC iPlayer).
VPNs have become mainstream in Australia, but there is a division between ‘techy’ people, who jumped on VPN bandwagon as soon as the word got out about the mandatory data retention. On the other hand, there are less technologically-oriented Aussies, who would like to protect their online browsing, but mistakenly consider the process to be too complex and thus stay unprotected.
Here are some main VPN selection criteria to keep in mind for novices, and a refresher for professional technology lovers
- VPNs can and should be easy to use – choose a VPN that is user friendly. For example, NordVPN apps only ask you to log in (first time only) and press the ON button. The apps will then choose the fastest server to connect to, in a country of your choice. That’s all it takes to hide your IP address and to start safe browsing.
- Strong No Logs Policy. Most VPN service providers are required by their country’s government to keep logs on users’ activity, such as their true IP address, date and time the server was accessed and information searched while connected to the internet. It’s therefore important to find out in which country your VPN provider is registered. Even if some providers claim not to keep any logs, they must do so as they are required by their country’s government.
- Strong security protocol. Make sure your VPN provider offers one of the latest strong security protocols, such as OpenVPN or IKEv2/IPsec, which are the safest protocols on the market at the moment.
- Extra security features. Look for extra security features, such as Double VPN encryption that uses two servers to encrypt your data for extra safety. If you torrent, it is great to get a VPN that offers ‘kill-switch’ possibilities, which turns off P2P and other programs as a fail-safe solution if there is an unexpected VPN service interruption.
- Beware of free VPN service providers. Free VPN providers do not necessarily provide highest quality security measures. A VPN service needs to pay for the server maintenance, staffing and operational costs and in itself cannot be free. Free VPNs typically rely on third party advertisers to cover the costs. Often they are free proxy services, marketed as a VPN service, when in fact proxies are not encrypted (they just change your IP address, but do not hide/encrypt it).
VPNs, like NordVPN are becoming the future in the world of tightening online security, and soon using a VPN will be as common as going online. It’s advisable to enter this new era with some essential knowledge about what a VPN is and how to choose one in the growing cybersecurity market.
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