This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch)
Why use Usenet anonymously?
The Usenet network guarantees a certain degree of anonymity, but certainly with some caveats and limitations. You can choose to further protect your privacy by taking certain measures. These measures we’ll discuss further along in this article. First of all, it’s important to know why you would possibly prefer to stay as anonymous as possible when using Usenet.
What you do online is nobody’s business but your own. Still, various external parties, such as Internet Service Providers (ISPs), online marketeers and intelligence agencies try to keep track of your online activities without your consent or knowledge. Using your IP address, these entities can easily monitor your online behavior.
Usenet Service Providers (USPs) that are located in the United States or Europe, might at one point be coerced to assist law enforcement agencies by giving insights in user data and logs. To date, however, this has not happened frequently yet. Furthermore, many Usenet providers choose not to store user logs of their customers’ download behavior.
2. Safe downloading
On Usenet, in the alt. Binaries. *, there is the possibility to share binary files, such as movies and music. There are users who knowingly download such files, even though they are copyrighted. These users generally aim to be untraceable as they are committing a criminal offense. Uploading and downloading copyrighted files is of course not the intention of Usenet.
But often it’s very hard to assess whether a file on Usenet comes from a legitimate, legal source. People who download large numbers of files from Usenet, might at one point download a copyrighted file by mistake. If this happens, they generally don’t want this to be known by their ISP and the authorities. In many countries legislation pertaining to illegal downloading has been tightened in recent years, which for many people entails they are more careful on Usenet.
3. Traffic shaping
ISPs have the ability to adjust the speed of your internet connection, depending on your internet activities. This is called traffic shaping. Each application or service gets a certain priority rating from the ISPs. If you often use an application that gets a low priority rating and your ISP detects this, your internet speed can be lowered. Usenet traffic usually gets a very low priority rating from ISPs, so your internet speed will be lowered if ISPs notice your Usenet traffic.
How to use Usenet anonymously?
From a privacy perspective it makes sens you would like to stay anonymous while using Usenet. But how do you accomplish that? Full anonymity can be accomplished in a number of ways. You can also use the described methods side by side for even better security.
1. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
The acronym VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic. As a result, other parties (for example hackers, government agencies or internet service providers) can no longer see what you do on the internet. Also, your location is hidden because your internet traffic is redirected through the VPN server. Your Usenet activities, including any downloads, remain completely hidden from third parties. This way you can protect your privacy and prevent that for instance hackers can intercept sensitive information.
A very suitable VPN is GOOSE VPN. This Dutch VPN provider has fast servers across the world with which can download quickly and effortlessly. And GOOSE VPN is very affordable, with packages starting at €2,99 per month (which is approximately $3,50). However, then you will have a data limit of 50GB. If you want to download large files regularly, you will be better off with an Unlimited package. Then you won’t have a data limit. Luckily you’ll be able to get a 30% discount on the Unlimited packages using the discount code ‘Privacy’.
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2. Use Secure Socket Layer (SSL)
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) means that the traffic between the computer and the website is encrypted and completely secure. The green bar next to the web address in your browser shows this. Other parties cannot see what you upload or download. When you use an unsecured network, SSL ensures that login data can not be intercepted by third parties. In addition, there is less chance that your ISP can and will regulate your internet speed (traffic shaping). To enable SSL, you need a Usenet provider that supports SSL. Most providers support SSL, but often it is not enabled by default.
Whatever you do on Usenet, it’s always advisable to ensure that other parties can not intercept your data. VPN and SSL offer you the opportunity to protect yourself and to safeguard your privacy. Using a VPN is generally highly recommended for everyone who utilizes the internet.