What is a VPN?
Virtual Private Network, or VPN for short, is a secure network connection through which you can safely connect your device to public networks.
It is widely used by large corporations, educational institutions and government agencies.
It is also used by individuals who care about staying anonymous on the internet for various reasons.
In countries where governments are blocking access to certain websites, people use a VPN to get around these walls of censorship.
Another reason people use VPN’s is to gain access to web content restricted to certain countries; this is particularly the case with some YouTube channels, like Vevo and similar.
In countries where downloading torrents is heavily monitored, like the USA for example, people use VPN to hide their internet activity and IP address from ISPs and from the torrent source.
This is similarly the case for streaming, the use of streaming services like Kodi is exploding lately and the movie studios are not at all happy about so they are now suing users.
Kodi (formally XBMC) is a media center platform where developers have made thousands of plugins that deliver the latest movies, TV series, pay per view sport, porn, documentaries etc. for free to your device.
It is like having access to every single video media out there, and not all of it is pirated content but a large selection of it is.
Because of the rapid growth of streaming on Kodi and other similar service like Popcorn Time, the movie studios have started to employ lawyers and are suing thousands of people around the word for downloading and streaming pirated content.
You can really get hit with a massive fine for doing so if they can find out your IP address. This is where a VPN can save you a fortune.
Most VPN providers require payment, but there are some that offer a trial version, and a couple of them offer free limited versions.
Be aware that the free VPN’s are usually shit and slow, especially if you try to stream video.
Why is Tor not enough for Deep Web Anonymity?
The Onion Router, or Tor, is a network of volunteer computers (routers) that provide secure and anonymous connection to the Internet.
The data which user sends from his computer to the destination and vice versa are being encrypted in each of the three routers which stand in-between user’s computer and the destination.
It is used by governments, journalists, bloggers, whistleblowers, but also by drug dealers who are selling illicit drugs at the so called darknet markets.
The fall of the Silk Road, the first and the largest darknet market; the arrest of Ross Ulbricht; the affairs of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden – who were all using Tor for their anonymity and various other reasons caused the general trust in Tor to decrease.
Some evidence suggests that a great deal of Tor nodes are being controlled by the NSA.
Once the node is controlled, the process of revealing one’s identity is easy and straightforward.
This has been proven by a group of hackers who previously hacked Play Station Network and Xbox network; after these attacks, the group announced that they are going after Tor Network, which they considered a huge challenge.
In just a couple of weeks hackers managed to take control of 3000 routers, and they revealed more than 95% of users’ identities!
The fact that Tor’s exit nodes (routers) are having some security issues is also admitted by the founders of Tor network, and it was the main reason why Agora, once a well-knowndarknet market, has stopped their operation.
Another more recent example of the tor Network being cracked is in 2015 the FEDS cracked Tor with the help of a University computer science department to catch users on the darknet markets.
They did this effectively and ended up catching tons of people doing illegal activities on the Deep Web who were then prosecuted.
This is an example of what can happen if you only rely on Tor for anonymity on the Deep Web.
How is VPN used?
If you are browsing the deep web using Tor, the best solution is to use both, Tor and VPN.
You should use Tor namely because it is the only browser that can access hidden services of the deep web and .onion URLs; VPN should be used for security reasons.
VPN is very useful even if you are not using Tor, and you are concerned about your online privacy and safety.
Tor and VPN can be used in two ways.
1. The first and less safe way is to connect your computer to the VPN and then start Tor. This way, the target website has no means to learn your IP address but your ISP will know that you are using a VPN, which doesn’t have to be a bad thing; however, if you are suspicious to the authorities for any reason, the VPN provider would have to disclose your log files.
So, your connection will look like this: Computer –> VPN -> Tor -> Internet
2. Another way to do this is to let Tor encrypt your connection towards the VPN server first; from the VPN your connection returns to Tor; then once again to the VPN and finally to the Internet.
This way, your ISP has no idea that you are using a VPN, and your VPN provider also has no record of your activities; your target website doesn’t have access to your exit node and you have the maximum level of protection!
So, your connection looks like this: Computer -> Tor Encrypted VPN -> Tor -> VPN -> Internet
3. There is another way that is really for the paranoid that offers insanely good anonymity and privacy.
You need a special router with DD-WRT firmware installed on it (you can buy these pretty easily) and then you have the VPN running on this so all of your internet connected to it is encrypted from the beginning, then you use tor and then you use your desktop VPN client to further encrypt in a separate location.
VPN Router (location 1) -> Computer-> Tor -> PC VPN (location 2) -> Internet.
On what devices can you use a VPN?
Most VPN providers have made their products available for multiple devices.
So, they support PC and Mac, and also smart devices; some can even work on routers.
However, there are some VPN services that can work only on a limited set of devices.
VPN providers with large market shares also have apps for ios and Andriod devices.
Benefits of using a VPN
Using a VPN has a lot of advantages, even if you are not a Deep Web visitor.
1. Browse the Deep Web with much better anonymity and security than just Tor.
2. Stream and download anything without LE or your ISP knowing and logging.
3. Access blocked content like YouTube, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Gmail etc. in countries where they are blocked.
4. Hide your Tor usage from your ISP. This helps so when they see you are using Tor they log your usage. LE can then use this to link you to activity on the dark web as they make a profile for you like a digital fingerprint.
5. Use to access GEO blocked content like different versions of Netflix, HULU, HBO NOW, BBC, Spotify, Pandora Radio.
6. You will be safer while browsing the internet; your IP address will be hidden, and hackers, malware, and other attackers will have a hard time getting information about you and probably won’t be able to get anything unless you give it on your own.
7. If you’re running a network, you have a reason more to use a VPN, since it won’t protect just one computer, but a whole bunch – together with your valuable documents, all your hard work will be protected.
8. VPN has no access restrictions, therefore, you will be able to browse all your favorite web applications including email and chat clients, etc.
As a bonus, if your country doesn’t have access to certain web content, VPN will enable them for you by default.
This is particularly handy in China, for example, where various services and websites are blocked by the government: Gmail, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, even Google itself shows selective results.
9. ISPs are cooperating with NSA and FBI and other LE agencies, and if your web behavior becomes suspicious, by any particular reason, most probably you are going to be monitored.
Privacy is the biggest benefit of VPN. If you choose a VPN that doesn’t keep logs, you will be able to hide all your internet activity from your ISP and therefore are able to browse safely. Not only that, but you will also be able to download whatever you like, even torrents.
10. Another benefit is that all your connections will be encrypted and even if someone obtains some information about your online activity, it will unreadable.
Drawbacks of Using a VPN
In comparison to benefits, there aren’t many drawbacks of using a VPN; but without listing the little drawbacks that exist, you wouldn’t have gained an objective picture.
And besides, there ARE some disadvantages.
Speed is probably the biggest drawback, especially if you live in areas where you have a bad connection already.
A good VPN will not slow down your connection dramatically.
The free versions of VPN’s are usually the slowest and to be honest, shit house.
Some free VPN’s like HOLA VPN were found out to even steal your internet and sell it off to others who then used it to spam people!
Encryption will also slow things down, but you shouldn’t look at encryption as something bad, even if you have to wait a second or two more for the page to load.
Another big drawback is that you won’t be able to use PayPal with VPN – PayPal simply doesn’t allow it.
What’s more, if you keep trying despite the warnings, your account might get suspended! So, you’ll have to find some alternatives to PayPal if you want to do some online deep web shopping.
What to Look for in a VPN?
VPN providers have different packages and different prices and opting for the right one isn’t always easy.
So, here are some tips that will hopefully help you to determine which VPN suits your needs best.
1. The most important thing you want to know about your VPN provider is whether they keep logs or not.
Most of them claim that they are not, but it is known that VPN providers, such as HideMyAss, forwarded the log files to the LE at least on one occasion even though they claimed that they were not keeping logs.
You must know that none of these companies are willing to lose their business just because you have done something illegal. So, be very mindful of this.
2. The other important thing to consider is whether they have a kill switch or not. The kill switch will disconnect you from the internet if you lose connection with the VPN and your privacy won’t be compromised at all.
3.When speaking of privacy, if you want to stay truly anonymous on the web, along with using tools such as VPN and Tor, you will also need to purchase your VPN anonymously, and the easiest way to manage this is by using bitcoins.
So, your ideal VPN provider should accept bitcoins as payment. Bitcoins are ideal cryptocurrency for staying anonymous since they cannot be traced and they are not connected to your bank account.
4. One of the crucial things is whether the VPN of your choice is the Tier1 (aka. Top Tier) provider or not. This means that they own and manage their own servers and network. There are hardly any of these providers on the market.
If they are not a Tier 1 provider then they rent rack space in hosting companies to run their VPN’s and they outsource their server maintenance and upkeep to the hosting company, this means they can not 100% guarantee they integrity of the severs and say they are not being tampered with. How could they? They don’t know because they don’t even see the server.
Please note that the purpose of this article is not to encourage anyone to download anything illegal from the internet or engage in any illegal activities online; the purpose of this article is purely informative.