If you work for a large company or are attending college, you’re probably somewhat familiar with private networks. Many jobs and most universities provide their own secured network to employees and students, and some even have VPN capability that will allow you to connect remotely. When it comes to work or school networks, however, there are some important security matters you should consider when using them for Internet browsing.
In this article we’re going to show you how you can avoid a lot of hassle by using your own personal VPN to jailbreak your work/school network and preserve your Internet privacy.
Why not just surf on my work/school network?
Most work/school networks are secured. By that we simply mean that access to these networks is restricted to employees and students. That sounds pretty good, right? These networks offer a certain amount of encryption, use many of the same protocols used in a VPN (the most common being PPTP), and generally protect your data from anyone trying to steal it. So, why not just use these networks for privacy?
These answer is that the privacy afforded by a school or work network is an illusion in most cases. Yes, your data transfer is encrypted. Yes, unauthorized users cannot access the network. The network administrator (i.e. your employer or school) can still log and track everything you do.
If you use a device provided by your work or school, you should know right away that your browsing activities can be tracked. Using a personal device such as your laptop, iPhone, or Android tablet is no better. Whenever you log on with your personal device your data is encrypted within the network, but that doesn’t mean the network administrator can’t log web traffic.
Let’s say you decide to check your Facebook or send a Tweet while connected at work or school. That’s harmless enough, you say. Think again.
Fired for Facebooking?
According to Business Insider, numerous people have been fired in the US this year for updating statuses on Facebook and Twitter while using the company network. Some of them were even dub enough to criticize their employer or customers in their posts. Now, using a VPN doesn’t conceal your identity on accounts like Facebook and Twitter, but it can help conceal the fact that you were checking your newsfeed or looking at your friend’s pictures.
Many university students have been severely reprimanded for browsing porn sites while using the school’s network. Some have even been placed on probation or suspended outright, losing their scholarships and financial aid in the process.
These things happened because employees and students never stopped to consider that their traffic on the network could be logged and viewed by the network administrator.
A special word about college networks
We should take time to mention that many VPN’s offered by colleges and universities are not enabled for Internet browsing per se. The purpose of these networks is to allow students to store their school-related files securely and access them remotely. The same protocols are used in many of these cases to encrypt data, but the setup is different. You can’t connect to the public Internet through the school’s VPN.
A university VPN is structured to allow access to things like the university library, where you can conduct research and things of this nature. It will also allow you to securely access your grades.
What we are discussing in this article is using the college network on campus to access the Internet.
Jailbreaking your work/school network
Let’s take a moment for a basic refresher on networks. Without getting too technical, your school or work has an account with an ISP, or Internet Service Provider. The ISP provides the Internet service to the business or school, and the business or school sets up a network which allows employees or students to use the Internet either on a personal device or one supplied by the company.
When we talk about jailbreaking the work/school network, we’re talking about situations where you use your personal device. In this sense, think of the work/school network like a Wi-Fi hotspot. The difference is that the work/school network will require you to enter a password to access the network. This is to prevent those who do not work there or attend classes from using it.
Once you enter the password and connect you are able to access the Internet. But, entering that password does not conceal your activities while browsing. This is why you need to use a personal VPN after connecting to your work/school network via a personal device. In this scenario, the network simply facilitates your initial connection. Once you are connected, your personal VPN creates a secure tunnel between you and the access point, and tracking your activities becomes much harder to do.
When you’re on your lunch break and decide to fire up your laptop to check personal email, simply connect to your VPN after you have connected to the work/school network. Now you can hit up Facebook or Twitter without worrying about leaving tracks for someone to follow.
Logging and VPN’s
Here’s the main thing you need to take away from this article: if your work or school provides a network for you to access the Internet on a personal device, you need to be aware that traffic on the network is most likely logged. These logs can be very revealing, as many employees and students have discovered.
At VPNaccounts we do not log your Internet activity. Logs are the greatest enemy to Internet privacy and freedom. No one wants to risk losing their scholarship because they sent a controversial Tweet, or lose their job because they browsed a dating site on their lunch hour. Using a VPN is the safest way to guarantee your online privacy while using any shared network.
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