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Introduction to cyber security: stay safe online
Introduction to cyber security: stay safe online

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2.3 Putting VPN to work

A photograph of a man using a laptop.
Figure 6

VPN technologies have a range of applications in the real world.

Activity 1 VPN applications

Timing: Allow about 30 minutes

Find out about some VPN applications. What are the potential security problems associated with some of the applications?

Use these articles as starting points:

Note down your thoughts in the space below.

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The TOR browser

The TOR Browser is a web browser designed to maximise the user’s security against attacks on the communications between the user and the wider Internet. TOR stands for ‘The Onion Router’, which is a protocol where the user’s traffic is encrypted and routed through three random TOR relays that could be anywhere in the world, and these relays are changed every few minutes. The third TOR relay then sends the traffic as normal HTTPS traffic without revealing the original source.

TOR can offer security over public wi-fi. An attacker monitoring wi-fi can detect you are using TOR, but that is all.

You can use the TOR browser to access secure sites over public wi-fi. In fact, using random public wi-fi sites and the TOR browser is one of the safest ways for a journalist to send communications in a hostile environment.

By using TOR browser to access ProtonMail and send or receive an encrypted email, an attacker won’t be able to see that you are using ProtonMail to send and receive messages.

When using TOR, you should keep the following points in mind:

  • only download the TOR browser from: https://www.torproject.org/
  • don’t add any ‘addons’ to this browser, they may break the security
  • don’t use a VPN as well as TOR as this may also break some aspects of security.