The moment we bring up online security, people say "Use VPN!", and thats correct actually. but there are locations, places and countries where you can not use VPN. It may be prohibited and in most of those cases VPN ports are blocked. However, there is an easy way to resolve that!
Many of you who are reading this article do care about your online safety. You browse websites, forums and online contents that you do not want to leave your trace back to them. There are many many steps to take and things to pay attention to when it comes to online safety but here we want to focus on VPN.
There are two reasons not to use VPN while browsing online:
1-It's blocked in a region/location: In some company network environments, the network administrator disables VPN. In some countries/regions, it's blocked due to severe censorship. In other countries it is considered a crime. VPN softwares use default Port numbers and Protocols (again we are not going deep about those in this article) and since those are very well known they can be blocked if censorship is tough in a location.
2-You dont want "Prying eyes" knowing you are using a VPN: If you connect VPN, for the reasons given above, the ISP or the network admin will see you using it. So to conceal this, there are methods presented by some VPN providers. Obfuscation is a method in Nord VPN connections. Multi-Hop in PrivateInternetAccess software and so on.
Above said, if you only want to secure your web-browsing, encrypting your activity only on the web browser, you dont need to connect a VPN on known VPN protocols to flag your online activity.
Almost all well-known and reliable VPN providers have browser extensions. You can go to Extensions/Add-ons section of your web browser, search the name of the VPN provider and install their add-on. This add-on sits on your browser, connects through SSL WebProxy Socket, acts as a SSL Proxy and encrypts all your browser traffic. The encryption is actually very strong using TLS v1.3 method. With that method of connecting your browser to the Web Proxy server, if anyone supposedly try to eavesdrop, what they see is you visiting a website on https:// address. Like https://www.wedostreaming.com that is shown in your address bar right now but can not see what you are seeing, they will only see an ordinary SSL (Secure Socket Layer) connection. In other words, using this method is like opening a website in HTTPS:// so it looks completely normal, unlike VPN.
So let's sum up the benefits of this method:
1-It is encrypted, safe and secure
2-It obfuscates the usage and wont stand out like a sore thumb
3-It's through a WebProxy Socket so its very fast
4-It's perfect for Web Browsing and IPTV Streaming if you can stream it on your browser. If you you dont know how, read this.
As mentioned before, almost all well-known providers have this browser extension and they do have it at least for Firefox and Brave.
Let's make an example using Brave browser and for VPN provider lets use PIA:
1-On your browser, click on dropdown menu and select Extensions
2-Select Web Store
3-Type your VPN provider's name.
Note: Brave uses Chrome Web Store for add-ons, yet it should not cause any security concerns.
4-Our provider is PIA and we have found the extension. Lets click on it to install
5-Add to Brave
6-Approve the process by selecting Add extension
7-If all goes well, a confirmation message should pop up
8-On your browser, click the extension button and pin the add-on for easier access
9-Click on the icon of your VPN add-on
10-Now you need the username and password of your VPN subscription to log in. Type and click LOGIN
11-This should be the the interface of the PIA connection, yours is different for sure. Now let's click on server location list
12-One very good feature that PIA has is the latency monitoring, showing the latency of each server to you. The lower the better. The green color shows the latency is in an acceptable range and should not affect your browsing speed. You can select any region that you like.
13-Now go back to the main page and click on the 3 dots menu. Here we want to take a closer look at extra features these sort of extension can provide because encrypting your data traffic is one side of the coin, the other side would be cutting the unnecessary access websites might gain without you knowing it. Let's first go to Extra Features. There are 3 section under Extra Features: Security, Privacy and Tracking.
Block WebRTC IP Detection: RTC stands for Real Time Communication, a protocol for person to person (peer-to-peer) communication used for mobile and desktop devices, embedded inside web browsers. This will need to detect your personal IP and VPN IP to make the connection. Enabling this will cut this access.
Browse Websites using HTTPS: You may very well know that HTTPS is the encrypted protocol for web browsing. Some older websites still do not enforce HTTPS on their websites and if you browse them on bare HTTP they will open although they do support HTTPS. Enabling this will force HTTPS.
Block Camera Access: Self explanatory
Block Microphone Access: Self explanatory
Block Location Access: This will block websites from knowing your location
Disable Network Prediction: This is to disable the browser from pre-fetch webpages based on content found on pages you visited. This is basically stops the browser from understanding your web browsing behavior
Disable SafeBrowsing: This is yet another way browsers may keep logs on the user through a service called SafeBrowsing (Its different from Private Browsing)
Disable Credit Card Autofill: Self explanatory
Disable Address Autofill: Self explanatory
Some of the things above already mitigated and stopped by Brave browser but since the extension is made originally for Chrome, these are concerns on that browser not on a browser like Brave.
Disable third party cookies: It will stop websites from storing cookies on your browser
Disable website referrer: It wont let the browser send the details of the current link to another link that you click
Disable hyperlink auditing: This will stop analytics data being gathered from your online activity on websites
Remove UTM parameters: UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Model, yet another tracking method
Remove FBCLID parameters: When on Facebook, if you click on a link to to to another website, FBCLID tracks that, this will disable the function
PIA MACE: is a more aggressive function of the application to fight against Ads, Trackers or any malicious content targeting your security and privacy
17-Now go back to the main page, click on 3 dots and lets have a look at Extension Settings
18-This section is self-explanatory mostly. Bypass List however lets you add addresses to websites or pages that you want to be overlooked by the application and dont apply security features. Last but not least, Smart Location is the one you might find it very handy.
19-If you want to have specific proxy location applied while visiting a specific website, you can configure it here and turn on the feature with the switch above.
Most of the VPN providers have a similar extension for browser with identical features.
Any questions? post it on WDS Community Forum and let us help you.