Create a Digital Fortress With a Private Search Engine and a VPN
Learn how to create a 'digital fortress' to maintain your online privacy using a search engine and a VPN with security researcher Christian Stewart.
If you are trying to use the internet and remain private at the same time, achieving that can be overwhelming. We recommend using: 1) a private search engine, and 2) a high-quality VPN. As a result, your internet searches and browsing will be safe from trackers that follow you around the web, and search engines that collect your information.
What is a VPN?
VPN stands for virtual private network. Through the use of software VPNs create a virtual network between two separate physical networks. For example, if you are connected to your home Wi-Fi network, but need to connect to your office internet to access your company’s intranet VPNs allow you to do this.
This same technology can be applied in different ways for other uses too. If you want to access a particular website that is limited to a certain country, you could VPN into that country to access the content. Another application is protecting your information on public Wi-Fi networks. VPNs act as a secure tunnel for your information so that you can still use public Wi-Fi without worrying about leaking your information.
In countries with authoritarian governments monitoring and censoring their citizens’ internet activity, people can use VPNs (although its sometimes illegal) to access blocked websites. If your school or work internet has content filters, you can also use VPNs to bypass these.
“A VPN keeps your internet activity private and secure. It stops your ISP and the authorities from tracking what you do online. A VPN will allow you to use public WiFi networks securely, safe from hackers. It will also give you unrestricted access to the internet by making it appear you are from another country.”
Source: What is a VPN?
How To Choose a VPN (Virtual Private Network)?
Not All VPNs are Created Equal
Before you invest in a VPN (the best options are paid, not free), do some research on how VPNs work and which ones have positive customer feedback. Ideally, your VPN will have many servers and server locations, tons of unique IP addresses and support for multiple devices. Most VPNs provide service for a few devices, so you can use them on your computer, smartphone, and other devices. Similar to private search engines, VPNs vary in how how private they really are. Just double check before purchasing one and you should be in the clear.
Consider These Factors When Choosing a VPN
There are a few things you should think about before selecting a VPN. The first question you should ask is: What do you plan on using a VPN for? Beyond that, you should consider the privacy you need, the speed you prefer, which location your connection should come from, and how much you’re willing to spend.
Speed: Because VPNs basically reroute your network connection through another network, they can slow your internet speeds. Some VPNs will publish their download speeds, but the best way to know how fast your connection will be is to use free trials to test the connection speed yourself.
Location: If you’re using a VPN to connect to a specific IP, like your office network, you don’t need to worry about a specific location. Accessing location specific content though requires certain geo-locations. To access certain locations, check the VPN’s website to make sure you can access servers in your desired location.
Cost: With VPNs there are free options, but similar to other services on the internet, if it’s free you’re probably paying with your personal data. We recommend using a paid VPN as they tend to be more reliable and trustworthy.
Facebook’s VPN Onavo Protect tracks user information and sends it to Facebook. Read more here…
If I Use a VPN, Why Do I Need a Private Search Engine?
If you want to remain anonymous to your ISP, then in most cases a VPN will do the trick. However, if you are using a search engine that tracks you, it uses other ways to link your searches back to you. For example, if you are using Google Chrome and you are signed into the browser, your searches are linked to your browser. Or, if you use a Gmail email address, your searches could be tied back to that. Websites and search engines that track you have many ways to collect your internet data, that go beyond a VPN. These “other ways” are called fingerprinting. This is when websites look at your internet browser, your devices, and the sites you visit most to create your user profile.
If you don’t want to share what you’re searching for with your search engine, the best way to achieve that is to use a search engine that doesn’t track your search history. This eliminates any worries you may have of your searches coming up at any time in the future. VPNs are great, but they are just one step in the complete privacy stack.
Combine Search Encrypt with a VPN to give yourself peace of mind when it comes to your privacy. We don’t need your information to offer reliable and fast search results. Adding a VPN just bolsters your data protection efforts. Your privacy is important to us, and that’s why we created Search Encrypt with privacy as our number one goal.
Practice Safe Searches & Start Using a Private Search Engine!
Main Image Credit : The awesome piece of artwork used to head this article is called 'Computer' and it was created by graphic designer Nikita Melnikov.