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VPN questions

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#1 marsden44


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Posted 11 November 2014 - 09:32 PM

Hello.  I know VPNs keep logs such as IPs, timestamps, sites visited, and things along that nature.  My question is can VPNs and whoever is on the other end of that VPN server see the files on my computer, the emails I type to friends, the password I used to log into this forum, and other personal information such as that?  Thank you.




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#2 j4m3s


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Posted 19 November 2014 - 10:44 AM

A VPN is an encrypted tunnel to one of your VPN provider's servers. You can think of it as a way to make all of your internet traffic seem as though it's coming from a different computer, but once it emerges onto the internet it's governed by the same rules that would apply if you weren't using a VPN. It's a good way to obscure the source of your traffic or to prevent someone on your network (like another person on an open WiFi network or your ISP) from seeing what you are doing.


First, no one should be able to see the files on your computer unless you have consciously decided to share them (or have been infected with malware).


The VPN provider can see your traffic, but if you are using a secure connection (https) your data is encrypted so they would be able to see what you're typing into an email or anything like that. If you aren't already, it's a good idea to use an email provider that uses SSL (https) by default. If you are using websites that don't use SSL, your VPN provider would be able to see your traffic.


As for "whoever is on the other end of that VPN server," it depends on what you mean. The website you're currently connected to needs to see the information you're sending to them (for example, if you're typing in your email password, your email provider needs to be able to receive that information). But they can't see details about your connections to other sites.


I'll mention one last thing. Not all VPN providers log traffic. Depending on what you're looking for, this may or may not matter to you, but here's a good article to help you find one that meets your needs: http://lifehacker.com/how-do-i-know-if-my-vpn-is-trustworthy-508866499

#3 rp88


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Posted 22 November 2014 - 09:34 PM

A VPN can probably see emails, passwords, logins and any other online data you put through it if the person/comapny running the VPN wants to. The VPN could not see details of browser activity done without going through it, it also couldn't see files on your harddrive. A vpn has an encrypted https connection from you to it and then it goes out onto the wider internet, it can technically watch everything that goes through it and read that content (because it decrypts stuff coming from you before sending it to the wider web, either re-encrypted for https sites or unencrypted for http sites. it works the other way round too, content comes from sites you visit, the vpn handles it and can see it at this point, then it encrypts that content and forwards it to you). If a vpn provider was found to do this he would lose his credibility and customers pretty fast, so it's unlikely thye woudl risk it but it's certainly possible. If a vpn did spy on content going through it then it would be quite a data processing operaton for the vpn company to sift through all the traffic to find things they actually wanted to look at. Some vpns will keep logs, others don't, others keep the for a certain time before erasng them. One "vpn" that is likely to be trustworthy is TOR (the onion router), it isn't a vpn in the standard sense but it can do much the same job for hiding your traffic and helping increase anonymity, unlike most VPNs it uses a worlwide network of volunteers to run it's servers and it routes your traffic through multiple servers between you and the sites you visit. Given it's way of working it is very unlikely that traffic through tor could be logged but if a malicious individual or company controlled a very large proportion of it's servers, then they might be able to do that sort of thing.
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