One of my growing fears is that society is headed down a dark path where privacy and security become quaint notions of a bygone era; a distant memory when the internet was a place of enjoyment and learning and hope. Those days are gone. Thanks to malware, phishing, criminals, terrorists, and government spooks, the days of privacy and security are behind us.
Even the minority government running the good old U.S. of A. seems intent on taking away personal liberties and rights we enjoyed since the public internet’s inception back in the mid-1990s. Example? Net neutrality is a thing of the past. Internet service providers can capture our search results and track where we browse and what we do online, then sell the data to the highest bidder. If you want privacy, you’ll have to pay more.
Can you fight back? Can you gain more control over your online life? Yes. But you’ll have to pay more.
VPN’s have become all the rage recently, thanks to Congress ignoring the will of the people and doing all they can to help big business. VPN? Virtual private network. A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your Mac, iPhone, and iPad and a remote server; most of which are scattered all over the country or all over the world. VPN’s have been around awhile and has always been a good tool to protect your devices from public Wi-Fi networks, firewalls, and anything and anywhere else danger lurks.
By using a VPN your local ISP cannot track what you’re doing online and your identity and location are masked. If the sites you visit use HTTPS– a secure connection to your browser– then you’ve added another layer of security and privacy not easily tracked.
This isn’t to say a VPN is the end all, be all of privacy. If you connect to Facebook or Google or Amazon, cookies may track your behavior, too. That’s why I recommend that Mac users try Cookie to manage such tracking nuggets. Not all VPNs are created equal, either. PC Magazine has a nice graph of some of the fastest.
My internet experience goes back to the early 1990s, about the time when the public became enamored with email and websites, and when dial up internet access was all the rage and a 14k baud modem was considered fast. $20 a month. How much do you spend on internet access these days? There’s $60 a month for the local ISP, plus each iPhone in the family has a monthly fee for x-number of GBs, plus an iPad with cellular data. That adds up to a few hundred dollars a month– a far cry from the $20 a month dial up fee from the last century.
Now, to keep privacy and security at a maximum, we’re required to spend more on a VPN just to keep government snoops and their lackey ISPs from tracking us ad nauseam. Thanks to Apple’s encryption efforts, we’ve gained a measure of security, but we’re under constant assault elsewhere.
Privacy and security for Mac, iPhone, and iPad exists. For a price.