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A 14-Year-Old Asks: When Should I Get a VPN? 203

"One of my students sent me this letter," writes Slashdot reader Hasaf. "I have a good idea how I will answer, but I wanted to put it before the Slashdot community." The letter reads: Right now I am 14 years old, I was wondering when I should get a VPN... I was thinking about getting the yearly deal. But right now I really have no need for a VPN at the moment. I was thinking of getting a VPN when I'm in 11th grade or maybe in college. What do you think?
Of course, the larger question is what factors go into deciding whether your need to be using a VPN. So leave your best answers in the comments. When should you get your first VPN?
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A 14-Year-Old Asks: When Should I Get a VPN?

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  • Ah, that question (Score:5, Informative)

    by jawtheshark ( 198669 ) * <slashdot&jawtheshark,com> on Sunday October 22, 2017 @07:11AM (#55412639) Homepage Journal

    First thing is that you need to understand what exactly a VPN is and what it protects you form. People hear VPN associate it with privacy and security and think it's a magic pill. It isn't. It has very specific uses, and it can protect you in some ways, but in many it doesn't.

    I always compare it with a very long cable that you stick into another network. Imagine, you are at McDonalds, and you could have a very long cable to your home network. You could access your NAS at home, surf from the IP address at home, all through that cable. That is what a VPN is: it allows you to plug into a different network. So what does this protect you from? In my example, from McDonalds and the other patrons on the McDonalds network. They can try to see what you do, but all they will see is the "cable" (the encrypted traffic) to a certain IP address (your home connection). What happens on that cable is opaque to them.

    However, if you surf the Internet over a VPN, it has an endpoint. In my example, that would be your home connection. So the sites, you visit see your home connections IP, your parents still could have filtering software on that home connection, etc... It would be as if you were physically at home and no different. The sites you visit can still track you.

    So, VPNs are basically good for three things:

    • Hiding your geographical location
    • Hiding your activity from the people that run your Internet connection (your ISP, McDonalds, your parents, etc...) However, you trade it for visibility of your activity to the people that run the VPN (or if you build your own, the people where your rent your VPS/server/connection).
    • Accessing private resources on private networks. This is mostly in a business setting (granted, I do it too, but I'm a huge nerd)

    So, now, with this information, you should be able to ask yourself: Is this the kind of functionality and protection I need? If no, you don't need a VPN. If yes, go ahead.

    • by The Cisco Kid ( 31490 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @08:01AM (#55412763)

      Far too many novice users have no understanding what a VPN is. And/or they assume you have to pay for one from some provider.

      I myself use OpenVPN to tunnel to my home network when I am using my cell phone to provide access to my laptop, to protect my activity from my cellular carrier (I am not technically "allowed" to "tether") - it doesn't cost me anything, and as a bonus I can access devices on my home network such as IP cam's, etc without having to setup individual port-forwarding in the router.

      • would love to know a free option that lets me bypass geofencing all over the world and is fast. currently I use my VPN service to terminate in various countries depending on the content I want to access/purchase or to bypass local monitoring altogether.
      • Far too many novice users have no understanding what a VPN is.

        Everyone I know has one to get around stupid geoblocking restrictions. The Internet is not designed for geographic borders, so attempts to enforce them are what drives the VPN industry.

        • Far too many novice users have no understanding what a VPN is.

          Everyone I know has one to get around stupid geoblocking restrictions. The Internet is not designed for geographic borders, so attempts to enforce them are what drives the VPN industry.

          exactly, The use case described by the OP is actually something I don't care about except for work in which case other people do the work needed for me. For my personal use VPN's are an anti geofencing/geoblocking mechanism and a means to get different prices on digital goods where pricing differs by region.

      • A VPN to your own home shouldn't have a cost except the internet bill and the costs such as the equipment and the time to set it up, but you'd have those costs anyway.

        Openvpn running on your router should do the job, if you have a router capable of running it. It's not that hard to set up pfsense with openvpn, or even swap the firmware in a retail router.

        No, need for a paid VPN service, unless you don't have ownership of the exit point.

        Basically protection of your privacy is the main reason for a VPN. Prot

    • by Sad Loser ( 625938 ) * on Sunday October 22, 2017 @08:28AM (#55412839)

      So while I think that might be overkill, maybe it is simpler than my solution:

      Main Browser
      Firefox browser with random agent spoofer, noscript, privacy badger and adnauseam so that I am actively obfuscating tracking.

      Secondary Browser
      Secondary browser (chrome) that I use to book tickets, use web outlook or do anything that the main browser will sometimes break.

      Tertiary browser
      Use Torbrowser on the rare occassion that you really don't want to be tracked.

    • by Imrik ( 148191 )

      One other thing VPNs are good for: controlling the routing of your data.

    • It might be a good point to also introduce the notions of onion routing.

      Comparing TOR to VPN :

      If VPN is a cable that runs to your home, TOR is a tangled mess of wires that runs to all your neighborhood, including your friends, but also including that new weird guy that moved recently. And one of your friend has trips the main fuse or put his house on fire every other week. And also that trigger happy redneck neighbor.

      Whereas VPN creates a single jump point through which you route all traffic,
      TOR uses multip

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        - it's a bit better than VPN at hiding your activity from 3rd parties, because there's no single entity that has a complete overview over all your traffic. Everyone only sees small bits of your traffic mixed with small bits of every one else on TOR.
        To keep the "cable" metaphore, it would take the police to post one officer in each of your neighborhood's house (including to the redneck that will proudly shoot anyone step un-invited on his home ground) to monitor as many exit points as possible, and another officer at the McDonalds trying to notice when traffic goes out to try to correlate with the observations spread over all the potential exit points.

        The flip side is that if any one of the exit points are monitored by an entity, and your browser traffic can be fingerprinted, they now have you on the radar, and can obtain data matching your fingerprint to a person from sites that collect the data (like online payment sites and banks, and ad aggregators that are partners with shopping sites).

        Say you want to hide that you visit sedition.ve. If you use a VPN in, say, Russia, the government can only see that you accessed the VPN. If you use Tor, and as li

        • The flip side is that if any one of the exit points are monitored by an entity, and your browser traffic can be fingerprinted, they now have you on the radar, and can obtain data matching your fingerprint to a person from sites that collect the data (like online payment sites and banks, and ad aggregators that are partners with shopping sites).

          This is explicitly addressed by TOR :
          - TOR itself constantly changes routes. An entity that doesn't control all or a very large fraction of all exit nodes will only see occasional glimpses of out traffic.
          - You are definitely not alone on TOR, some people simply use it for general anonymity or just for shit and giggles, meaning that your traffic will by mixed with traffic of lots of other people, even on the same exit-node
          - TOR is a high latency network (multiple jump point)
          - All of the above simultaneously

          • by arth1 ( 260657 )

            This is explicitly addressed by TOR :
            - TOR itself constantly changes routes. An entity that doesn't control all or a very large fraction of all exit nodes will only see occasional glimpses of out traffic.

            A single glimpse is enough. The problem isn't listening on your continued traffic, but being able to fingerprint any users who use that exit node as little as once.

            - You are definitely not alone on TOR, some people simply use it for general anonymity or just for shit and giggles, meaning that your traffic will by mixed with traffic of lots of other people, even on the same exit-node
            - TOR is a high latency network (multiple jump point)
            - All of the above simultaneously make very hard to correlate input and output traffic.

            You don't need to correlate input and output traffic. All you need is to log outgoing requests, and at your leisure grep for destinations you don't like, and check the fingerprint of those requests against big entities like Google, PayPal and banks.

            If any of the accesses to a highly illegal source have fairly unique fingerprint that any entity

            • but being able to fingerprint any users who use that exit node as little as once. {...} and check the fingerprint of those requests against big entities like Google, PayPal and banks.

              If any of the accesses to a highly illegal source have fairly unique fingerprint that any entity is able to match to a person, you get a court order to search that person's computer for evidence.

              (Note: you're answering to the wrong paragraph, I've written about finger printing in the next one).

              Yes, but that require a finger-printable browser.

              As I've mentioned, the Tor bundle goes to great lenght to make sure that the packaged Tor Browser is as unremarkable as possible.
              (Characteristics shared by hundreds of thousands)

              Also in the specific case of "high illegal source": if even The Piratebay and Duck Duck Go have .onion addresses (as I've mentioned in my 3rd part), you can bet that the juicy stuff tha

              • by arth1 ( 260657 )

                Also in the specific case of "high illegal source": if even The Piratebay and Duck Duck Go have .onion addresses (as I've mentioned in my 3rd part), you can bet that the juicy stuff that law enforcement would be aiming (whatever is the current descendant of Silk Road ?) has also an onion address and no exit node will ever see the traffic.

                An .onion address isn't much help if any part of the rest of the URL is on a special interest list. azix723czou5pTr1k.onion/illegal/content/terrorists_handbook.pdf or th3b9eex7781fgp.onion/vajiralongkorn-buggering-a-pig.png are flags as good as any.
                Never mind that the .onion addresses are persistent for long enough that the surveillance teams who also browse the illegal content can easily add them to their own scan lists. They don't need to know the IP address or DNS name of a site - all they need to kno

                • An .onion address isn't much help if any part of the rest of the URL is on a special interest list. azix723czou5pTr1k.onion/illegal/content/terrorists_handbook.pdf or th3b9eex7781fgp.onion/vajiralongkorn-buggering-a-pig.png are flags as good as any.

                  I think you definitely need to document yourself how TOR work in general (and how .onion addresses work in peculiar).
                  (And also how HTTPS work, by the way)

                  TOR is a layered encryption scheme (hence the "onion" part of the name).
                  Each layer is a cryptographic public key layer. Only a node with the corresponding private key can peel a layer and see what is inside.
                  Inside there might be:
                  - (for all nodes) another encrypted layer, in which case the node forward it to the next node, identified by the public key in th

                  • by arth1 ( 260657 )

                    If the traffic is HTTPS :
                    in that case, the exit node sees the conenction to the :443 TCP port. But from this point onward, the browser and the web server negociate a connection.
                    Only an entity possessing the private keys of webserver could successfully impersonate the server and pull a man-in-the-middle. Other wise you need to hope that the browser is stupid enough to trust your shady certificate authority

                    Or hope that the ones running the exit node doesn't also have thumbscrews on as much as a single entity that issues certificates and is a root CA in the certificate stores of most browsers.
                    How much are you willing to bet that TLAs in the US cannot get certs issued by one of the many US CAs in order to monitor traffic to a given web site?

                    • Or hope that the ones running the exit node doesn't also have thumbscrews on as much as a single entity that issues certificates and is a root CA in the certificate stores of most browsers.
                      How much are you willing to bet that TLAs in the US cannot get certs issued by one of the many US CAs in order to monitor traffic to a given web site?

                      Like I've written just after that, it boils down to :
                      - kicking out CA which are known to issue bogus certificate to third parties (par of the reason why China's CA and a few other got kicked out of every modern browser)
                      - certificate pinning and various other example of techniques which help make sure that the certificate you're seeing is the right certificate and not a bogus one issued by some government-controlled CA that you happen to trust.
                      (Such measure can already detect when a content distribution syst

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        - people tend to look suspiciously to TOR and automatically assume it's for nefarious purpose. (You could be accused to be a drug dealer, just because of the tangled wires). In practice that means that content distribution networks such as cloudflare will always ask you to solve captcha before proceeding

        Actually, it's not because of TOR. It's because - guess what - people abuse the heck out of tor.

        CloudFlare doesn't give Tor users the captcha for nothing. They've just noted that traffic from a certain IP i

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      There is one other very important thing that a VPN protects you from: unwarranted surveillance.

      Government agencies and in some countries ISP monitor and store everything. Law enforcement bypasses legal safeguards. A VPN doesn't make spying on you impossible, but it does stop it being so cheap and easy. It forces the proper channels and oversight to be used.

      • Which opens an interesting question.

        In the USA, we know that the NSA and/or other agencies have installed equipment to track and monitor users in the networks of ISPs.

        What about datacenters? If I have a where the endpoint is a rented virtual private server in a datacenter, is the NSA also dumping that traffic? What about commercial VPNs? If the NSA can track the IP addresses used by commercial VPNs, it would not be difficult to dump all the traffic from a commercial VPN.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          I'm sure datacentres are closely monitored. A VPN helps obfuscate the source of traffic, but it's not perfect. Even so, because it requires significant effort to de-anonymize the traffic flowing through the endpoint it prevents casual snooping and other abuses.

          • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
            Bingo, you can't protect against everything, but you can make yourself a harder target.
            For example, I store my address in my google maps address, because I use it to navigate traffic. I now this is a trade off, however, I don't tag it as my "home" address, which will obfuscate me from the majority of the automated processing.
        • The first thing to understand is that there is no difference between "datacenter" and "ISP." The room at the ISP where the computers live is called the "datacenter," and a hosting company that has a datacenter is also known as an ISP.

          I don't know about now, but around ~2002 when they were installing the stuff at a lot of places, they just had a network closet that the government controlled, (and rented from the ISP!) protected by access card. They simply route all the normal upstream traffic through that ro

        • Thus why Google started encrypting their DC-to-DC traffic [datacenterknowledge.com] four years ago. Microsoft is also doing the same [zdnet.com]. I would assume Amazon does the same, although I can't quickly find any article which they claim this.
      • There is one other very important thing that a VPN protects you from: unwarranted surveillance.

        Well, don't forget to subtract the increased chances of having all your traffic recorded! I mean, maybe it protects you from surveillance, maybe it makes it more likely that you're on the list of people to surveil.

        The reality is that you don't know; it isn't knowable. Who is being secretly watched is of course a secret, and the details and processes change over time, at unknown intervals. All the public data on it is suspect and could be designed just to get people used to being surveilled.

        Other use cases,

    • Furthermore, it's good to be explicit about what happens when you get a VPN through some provider.

      In the same analogy, you essentially get a "very large cable" from that provider which you carry around with you. Anywhere you connect to the VPN, your network communication goes straight to the VPN provider.

      What's really crucial to understand here is that you're effectively swapping out your ordinary service provider for your VPN service provider: McDonalds or your hotel, or your school can no longer monitor y

    • by Jiro ( 131519 )

      I'll also point out that torrent sites often have scary-sounding warnings about how it is of the utmost importance that you use a VPN to protect your privacy. In fact, I would guess that this is where the 14 year old probably heard about it. Pay as much attention to those as you usually would to scary warnings on torrent sites, that is, not very much. Torrent crackdowns on individual users are very rare anyway.

      The biggest situation where you may actually need a VPN is if your ISP throttles torrent speed

    • But you don't need to pay a monthly fee for that; you just need the proper firewall and client software. I think the submitter was more asking about a commercial VPN. Your description is what I would call a corporate VPN, just that it would be back to his house and not to a business. Looking at the current Slashdot Deals, I don't even see a "yearly" option.

      Technically, there are only two "types" of VPNs: site-to-site (router-to-router) and Remote Access VPN. I'm not sure what his "yearly" one is exactl
    • He needs to do it now. Now is when he saves privacy. Now is when he stops the advertisers and all those trackers from building a profile. Now is when he makes the data they collect inconsistent and thus less valuable to them. Using a VPN is part of that.

      I don't like using the word "hide". Instead I say protect and guard. He should be protecting his privacy now and guard the value of his property.

      It is always best to not give into to the invasions of entities that just want to use you to make money.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22, 2017 @07:11AM (#55412641)

    Let's take a requirements-centric approach:

    What do you need?

    right now I really have no need for a VPN at the moment

    Congratulations! You don't need a VPN, so don't get one yet.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is a 14 year old student.

      Encouraging trial and exploration before it's a critical need is an excellent learning opportunity.

      • by Calydor ( 739835 )

        Would you say the same about sex? Smoking? Drugs? Investing?

        Substituting 'VPN' for any of these makes the question very interesting.

      • In this case he shouldn't "get a subscription". Rather it is better to BUILD own VPN (say between home computer and laptop, or between home and school compuiter, if school IT police allows this).

        • THIS RIGHT HERE!!! With some effort, he could build this. If he just needs a secure connection from a laptop back to the house, that's (mostly) trivial (from a cost perspective). Learning about and implementing a VPN is quite educational.
      • This is a 14 year old student.

        Encouraging trial and exploration before it's a critical need is an excellent learning opportunity.

        Well, yes, but asking questions of people on the internet might not actually encourage trial and exploration at all, and it may not be a significantly useful learning opportunity compared to, say, access to wikipedia.

        The correct answer is, "If you don't know, you don't need one," and that remains true for a student who is interested in learning more; indeed, it is after learning more that they might come to discover that they do have a use case for it after all.

        Not every detail of computing benefits from di

        • by sconeu ( 64226 )

          The correct answer is, "If you don't know, you don't need one,"

          I believe that was also Sony's answer to the rootkit fiasco. ""Most people, I think, don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?".

          • Ignorance is to tools you don't use as ignorance is to security risks you didn't know you were exposed to: T/F

            Surely you can do better.

    • I currently have no use for a Cortex-M7 either, but still I got a few to learn about its features so when I need its power to create something I have the knowledge to use it.

      The requirement here would be "I want to learn about VPNs and how to use them".

      • by rodrigoandrade ( 713371 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @08:25AM (#55412833)
        Except that, in 2017, unless you roll your own VPN, there's really not much to learn. You just whip out a credit card, pay for a service, install their software (if you don&#194;&#180;t just log into their https website), and you're done.

        On a business environment (which's not the case in the story), unless you're the admin, you're given a user ID and password to log in a Citrix client. Done.

        Remember, we're dealing with the iPone generation that replaces a smartphone when the battery doesn't hold enough charge, or tosses out a notebook when it's running "slow."
    • Let's take a requirements-centric approach:

      What do you need?

      right now I really have no need for a VPN at the moment

      Congratulations! You don't need a VPN, so don't get one yet.

      Yeah but how well does a 14 year old even know their requirements. They might be in the mindset of "Hey Torrenting works and i haven't gotten an email. I don't *need* it" I think especially in a requirements -centric approach it's essential to first define the requirements. She might have needs she hasn't even thought of yet. That might be the reason she sent the question in the first place.

  • Anytime (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @07:13AM (#55412645) Homepage Journal

    As long as the parents have man in the middle access it is not a bad idea. Before the kids all flame me for saying that, I saved my daughter from a potential predator because I monitored her Internet use when she was 14.

    At that age one is still a child and still tends to have poor judgement. I know I did back then.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 )

      Not to mention that such parenting sets kids up for a lucrative career in IT security, with thwarting such MitM attempts without parents noticing it being the first ITSEC project.

    • "I saved my daughter from a potential predator because I monitored her Internet use when she was 14."

      So in exchange for busting someone chatting with your daughter to some degree that you have arbitrarily determined was "predator-ish", you violated her privacy and made her not trust you or the network ever again. Thus ensuring that any future incidents are completely out of your control and probably even awareness.

      I have taught my kids to be aware, the rules, and why rules are like that and so i trust them

      • See my other post. I didn't provide full details. He was trying to buy her a bus ticket to cross State lines and meet him. Get a fucking clue. Do you have kids? You claim you do. I taught her that as well, but a 14 year old is batshit stupid. I know I was at that age. Anyone who says they were not is lying to themselves and others.

    • At that age one is still a child and still tends to have poor judgement. I know I did back then.

      Tell me about it. My 14 year old has gone from regular problem free kid to arrested for shoplifting, to suspended from school for smoking weed, to home-made dyed hair and tattoos in the space of the one month! It's like payback for all the things I did to my parents when I was that age...

  • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Sunday October 22, 2017 @07:18AM (#55412657) Homepage

    if your laptop/phone can connect into your home VPN, then what you carry with you, maybe in another country, could be inspected by border-police/... and they would have access to your home network from their country. Do you want that ? Making things easy for you will also make things easier for people who you might not like.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Never carry anything to another country that's actually personal. Take a burner notebook/phone with you. Use a local SIM card and if that's not possible, never store contacts/addresses on your own SIM card (dumb idea anyway). When crossing a boarder, have devices that are total clean and innocuous--not signed in to any account you actually care about and maybe signed into throwaways that you don't care about.

      If a device leaves your sight it's been compromised. If your notebook is in your hotel room and y

    • if your laptop/phone can connect into your home VPN, then what you carry with you, maybe in another country, could be inspected by border-police/

      The benefit of SSL VPN is it browser based, so no client on the machine, and no history. If you access your SSL-VPN in a private window/incognito mode, it is effectively invisible to anyone inspecting your device.

  • by Idimmu Xul ( 204345 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @07:18AM (#55412663) Homepage Journal

    maybe wait until his 18th birthday?

    • maybe wait until his 18th birthday?

      Why do you assume privacy starts at an arbitrary number assigned by society?

      If anything, I commend a 14-year old valuing privacy. Few these days do, since most are addicted to social media, and the associated narcissism that tends to make privacy obsolete.

      • by swb ( 14022 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @07:45AM (#55412723)

        The problem with 14 year-olds is that while they're smart enough to know the words, they don't really know the music. We mistake their verbalization of intellectual concepts as understanding.

        • The problem with 14 year-olds is that while they're smart enough to know the words, they don't really know the music. We mistake their verbalization of intellectual concepts as understanding.

          And how old do we wait to teach kids about concepts like the 1st Amendment? Should we reserve Pledge of Allegiance participation until they can pass the related lyric aptitude test?

          A VPN isn't exactly something kids are blindly peer-pressuring each other into, so I'd be more inclined to believe someone asking for it understands the value of it more than we might assume.

        • I'm 41 years old and I'm still finding out what the words in the lyrics really were, and feeling embarrassed.

          At 14 I was at least smart enough to be sure I knew what all those words were. ;) Nevermind the music, or the point.

        • This attitude bothers me. As a 14 year old I was pretty sure where I was making good and bad decisions, when I could do something properly vs when I didn't have enough information or experience, etc. But adults kept telling me I wasn't old enough, I lacked maturity, and so on.

          So a few years later I went to college. And now I wasn't some high school kid, but I still wasn't an adult. Adults told me I lacked maturity, I wasn't old enough, my brain was still developing, etc.

          Then I graduated college and I learne

      • a VPN only gives you privacy if you're using it to connect to a private network.

        If you're using it to connect to the public network, your usage might actually be public, not private, and the network might be a public service, not a private anything.

    • maybe wait until his 18th birthday?

      If you are old enough to fight for your country, you are old enough to have a VPN.

      • i was being facetious.

        wtf does he need a VPN for?

        I've 3 .. i havent used any of them since i left china.. though i should as netflix and amazon prime in vietnam is lacking ...

  • VPN only makes sense if you want to keep a connection secure or obfuscate the connection you are making by relaying messages to another server. It does not make much sense to pay for a VPN service just for the sake of paying for it. And VPN does not help keeping you anonymous from Facebook, you know.
  • Buy a good VPN service as soon as you can afford it. Know what it does and especially what it does not do. I got mine the first time I got a nasty letter from my ISP for downloading a torrent for a movie I already owned (Flixter *sucks* on a Mac). Don't regret the purchase a bit.
  • VPNs tunnel through your router's firewall, so you need to make sure that the firewall on the local VPN endpoint does its job. There are several VPN providers which allow incoming connections through the VPN, so by connecting through their VPN you might just give access to your local resources to anyone on the internet. Firewall the VPN interface!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    To Hasaf: You should only have sex when you ready. It is OK to wait to eleven grade.

  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Sunday October 22, 2017 @07:56AM (#55412749)

    Ok, young man, here's some important details you should know about VPN

    - Not all VPNs are equal. Some fit, some don't. They come and go. When your first VPN goes down, it will feel like the world is collapsing. Don't worry, it isn't. You'll get to see many VPNs in your life and eventually you'll find that one VPN that really fits and you'll stay together and maybe even start your own service. You'll know when the time is right and you've found the right VPN to do just that.

    - Some VPNs come with flashy advertising and/or quite some legal block. Don't just look at such VPNs but also at the custom built ones that run their own self-built config scripts and services. Those are real gems and that is where you can find very special VPNs.

    - Don't just fantasize and read about VPNs online. Go out and meet some real world VPNs in real life. That is where you will gain the experience to judge VPNs and which work best with you.

    - When you get your first real VPN, you still need to protect yourself! I can't stress this enough. Practice applying Firewalls and such when you're in the mood for trying out some VPN.

    - When you get your first VPN it might not connect in the first night. Don't worry, it will get better. Soon you'll be VPNing like a bunny.

    - If you think you've found the right VPN and want to stick with that for life (very significant decision), do write up a contract covering all the details concerning you and your special VPN - it will save you pain later if things don't quite work out as planned.

    Those are the basics, the rest you'll learn along the way.
    Godspeed!

    • Also important: What you hear and see about VPNs and using them in hacking movies (and yes, son, I know that you're watching them, hey, I watched them when I was your age, even though they were much, much worse garbage in my days, you didn't even get to see the screen, they even show that now), don't take it too serious, that's movies, ok? Nobody expects you to be like that, and trust me, VPNs don't behave like this either. You see how they make you invisible? They show that in the movies because that's wha

    • - Some of your friends might claim they have connected their VPN already, but quite likely they're only connected via their loopback adapter.

  • Like with all of these questions, it depends.

    My daughter was borrowing one of my IPs on a VPN provider when she was 5. Why? She was following me to hacker conferences, and we wanted her traffic to be encrypted (5 is too young to end up on the Wall of Sheep!)

    If your 14 year old is politically active in a repressive regime, (I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine if their regime is repressive) hopefully they already have one.

    If they want to roll their own as a project, I'd be like "sure!"

  • The question is hard to answer unless we know what your ultimate goal is. Here are a couple of scenarios.

    If you don't trust you ISP to keep your surfing private, then a VPN can hide your activity. However, now someone else has your browsing history. Who is that person or people? Hard to know. Personally, I suspect that many VPNs are run by one government or another.

    If you trust your ISP, you could get a VPN to connect to your home, to access your NAS, and to browse using your ISP. This protects your informa

  • They should get the book "Baby's First VPN".

  • When should he ditch the "virtual" privacy, and get a real private network? Should he wait until he's 60 years old, a billionaire, living on a private island in the Mediterranean with a slide-off roof on his volcano for launching helicopter attacks on MI5, or should he go ahead and set up his private network now so that he and his teenage friends can chat in secret?
  • Just connecting on the Internet these days is risky, but adding the extra maturity required to use a VPN it is best to protect oneself. It's okay to be curious about and explore VPNs at such a young age, (it's only natural to be curious about one's privacy) but as 'it' can have life long consequences, I recommend that all uncommitted customers purchase their VPNs with Walmart Gift Cards. Once you decide to settle down with a VPN for a while and really start leeching, maybe it's time you gave them your cre

  • I'd say that people should get a VPN when they actually understand how it works, what it can do for you, and why you need it, if you really do. If you don't know this, you will be wasting your money. It's not a be all end all for security, it's usefulness is limited to certain scenarios and situations, and most people still don't use one.

    But in a general sense, you could get a VPN as soon as you started using the Internet to traffic sensitive information of any sort, even if you need parents or someone else

  • When you are 14 then you do not need a private network. You need to get out and find out what it is with the girls/boys everyone is talking about. Also you should prepare your home and friends for your 16th birthday, the day you can drink beer and wine for the first time legally. In case you are an US citizen, save money for a trip to Europe.

    • Your Europe Dogma is outdated.

      The legal drinking age is 18 in Spain, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Netherlands, Ukraine, and a bunch of other places in Europe.

      There is no country called Europe, and drinking laws vary by country.

  • Get a life, not a VPN!
  • It is the new bling.

    You wouldn't expect him to be the only one on campus without one would you?

  • Will You ever run for public office? ---> Yes

    Are your porn tastes fairly mainstream, such that the common porn sites are sufficient for your carnal appetites? ---> No

    Are you like, SUPER INTO drugs? --> Yes

    You get all tingly when you see people n animal costumes --> Yes

    You are actually a For Real criminal --> No (all VPN users will eventually be bugged by NSA/FBI).

  • You can get a pretty good deal on "Baby's first VPN".

  • Dear Johnny,

    At 14, many boys begin to notice feelings about VPNs.

    You've surely noticed that the VPNs have been changing.
    Some of them have bigger capacity and some look more secure
    than other VPNs in your school. You may catch yourself
    staring at some of the older VPNs and having daydreams
    about getting on them.

    You may even have woken in the morning after a strange
    but pleasant dream about VPNs, a dream you didn't totally
    understand, and discovered that you had a data leak overnight!
    Don't be ashamed or scared.
    T
  • Anyone and their dog can set up a VPN service in a few hours with claims they don't retain records or some such. First they are lying, you can't verify it and it's far far easier to run such a service with records so they are lying. Second, VPN services make great honeypots, therefore you can safely assume most of them are just that. Third, IP addresses alone are no longer considered sufficient evidence of identity in most cases, a VPN solves that problem by giving a second layer of identification in the fo
  • It would have been nice if the original post had expanded VPN at least once, so people who have not encounted it could understand it.
  • Right now I am 14 years old, I was wondering when I should get a girlfriend... I was thinking about getting the yearly deal. But right now I really have no need for a girlfriend at the moment. I was thinking of getting a girlfriend when I'm in 11th grade or maybe in college. What do you think?

"The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception a neccessity." - Oscar Wilde

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