The following is a transcript of an interview that took place on February 25, 2018.
Welcome to another edition of Wireshark Podcast. This week we’re examining the differences between commercial and open-source versions of the popular packet-sniffing software, how to choose a VPN service, and more.
Interview With Marc Goodman
Hey, David, how are you? This is Marc Goodman from Cloudflare. Thanks for having me on the show. We’re going to dive right in and start talking about VPN and how difficult it is to penetrate or get access to. So, let’s get started.
Differences Between Commercial And Open-Source Versions
One of the things that struck me about the open-source version of Wireshark is how clean it is and how easy it is to use. I use it every day and it never ceases to amaze me how much information it can pull out of a packet, all in a single interface. What’s great about it is that it’s free and open source, which means that anyone can examine and modify it. So, you know, if there’s something you want to know about how VPNs work or how to choose a VPN service, you can just go and look it up. In comparison, the commercial version of Wireshark is quite bloated. There are thousands of plugins and add-ons for it. It’s difficult to find your way around, and it takes a bit longer to load.
Why Do You Need A VPN?
Now, the first thing you need to consider is why do you need a VPN in the first place? There are several good answers to this question, but one of the most important reasons is that VPNs keep your personal data secure. They’re capable of doing this in several ways, but the most important thing to remember is that nobody else has access to your data while it’s within the confines of the VPN. So, in other words, your VPN keeps your personal data secure while you sleep, when you don’t need it, or when you don’t have internet access. Another important thing to keep in mind is that a VPN can also save you from bandwidth throttling, which is common when you go over your allocation. So, if you’re really eager to get some work done and don’t want to waste time on VPN set-up, you can always opt for a paid-for VPN that offers these features.
Choosing A VPN Service
So, let’s say you want to choose a VPN service. Where should you start your search? The two most important attributes to look for are security and speed. The more secure the service, the less likely you are to have your data compromised. Moreover, the faster the service, the less likely you are to experience any connection issues. Unfortunately, all too often we hear about VPNs being slow or unreliable, which makes us hesitant to even consider using them. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. The most popular VPN services are very speedy and very secure, which is why they’ve gained such a huge following. But enough about security, let’s talk about something a little bit lighter.
Increasingly, VPNs Are Being Used To Access Blocked Websites
If we look at the past, we’ll see that VPNs have always been used to access blocked websites. This is mainly because your typical VPN provider will give you a DNS server that can quickly route you to the website you want to visit, even if that site is blocked. So, as you can imagine, VPNs were originally designed to be used in censorship-related situations, where one party (the government, for example) wants to keep certain content blocked for personal or political reasons. These days, however, VPNs are being used to access all sorts of websites, including those that are blocked for copyright reasons. This is mainly because the people who control the content that you’re trying to access usually don’t own the servers that the websites are hosted on, so they can’t easily block you. However, there are hundreds of thousands of web sites that are still blocked in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), which is why most citizens in that country use VPNs to get access to the information they want. In fact, some estimates suggest that 80% of Myanmar citizens use VPNs to access the internet. So, if you’re in Myanmar, you already know where to go for information.
How Do You Choose A VPN?
The Top 3 Reasons To Choose A VPN
So, if you’re still reading, I assume you’re interested in learning more about VPNs and why one should choose them over other internet security measures. If this is the case, continue reading. Here are the top three reasons why you should choose a VPN.
1. It Keeps Your Personal Data Secure
As explained above, one of the main reasons why you should choose a VPN is that it keeps your personal data secure. Now, this may not seem like a selling point, since we already know how important it is to keep our personal data safe. However, there’s more than one way in which a VPN can protect your data, so let’s examine each one.
Firstly, regular internet browser users will tell you that using a VPN is like having your own personal web browser. Every time you connect to the internet via a VPN, you’re opening a new encrypted connection, which effectively conceals your identity and keeps your personal data secure. Moreover, when you use a VPN, all the websites you visit will think you’re visiting from another country, due to the way your ISP (internet service provider) works. So, if there’s a site you want to access that’s currently blocked in your country, you’ll have to use a VPN to get around this. In situations like this, the VPN will terminate its contract with your ISP (which allows it to function) and reconnect you to the target web server, anonymously.
2. It Provides Anonymity
Another significant benefit of using a VPN is that it provides you with anonymity. This is a big one. Your personal data is already secret and secured, so there’s no need to be worried about being tracked. As a matter of fact, with most modern VPNs, this is one of the main selling points. They’re usually very good at hiding your actual IP (internet protocol) address, which is the internet address that other websites and servers will see when they communicate with you. But here’s the thing: even if they do succeed in cloaking your IP address, it won’t stay that way for long. Sooner or later, your ISP will find out that you’re using a VPN and then your IP address will be flagged. At this point, your ISP will place you on a blacklist and all the websites you visit will have your personal data attached to it. When this happens, getting back on the internet will be difficult, unless you use another ISP. So, even though using a VPN may provide some degree of anonymity, it won’t be very reliable. At least, not for very long.