One of the great lessons of cryptocurrencies is that we need to take better care of ourselves, whether we’re talking about our finances or our personal information. In the US, considering that Congress is essentially selling out our internet privacy to corporations, it is incumbent upon us to take a greater role in protecting our own privacy.
If you haven’t already done so, consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to bolster your security procedures, especially considering your additional vulnerabilities as a cryptocurrency investor. To understand why you would need one, consider a simple, isolated Bitcoin transaction. Bitcoin is not anonymous, it’s pseudonymous. Your personal info like name, phone number, social security number, etc. can’t be linked directly to your wallet address. But your IP address can be. And that can give away your location to anyone who might be looking for it. From the city or town you’re in, right down to your address or geolocation.
A VPN fixes that. It’s like sending your data through a tunnel which can only be seen from the other end, the website or service you want to interact with. Even your ISP (Internet Service Provider) can’t see your data. And the VPN hides your true location by rerouting to an IP address in a different location, even another country. These two main features of a VPN, encrypting your data as you use the internet and obscuring your IP address, are right in line with the needs of cryptocurrency. The top VPN’s are easy to install and use and they run mostly in the background.
They usually offer monthly or yearly subscriptions. Some of the top VPN’s are: NordVPN PrivateInternetAccess TorGuard You may see a free VPN service offered as an addon to another pay service such as an antivirus program. For the most part, you get what you pay for, but even a free service from a reputable company is better than nothing. ProtonVPN offers a limited free version of their service. You will give up a little bit of speed, and you will have a limited selection of servers and countries, but if you only need the service once in a while, it is a reasonable free option. One key feature is to look for the number of licenses offered. For many plans, you will have the option to run the VPN on multiple devices (desktop, laptop, tablet, phone) simultaneously.
Are there any restrictions on using a VPN? Some companies won’t allow their users to connect with a VPN. Streaming services such as Netflix have been a problem when it comes to accessing through a VPN. For them, it’s about protecting content and copyright issues. Some countries that have serious personal privacy issues (and which tend to be authoritarian) have restricted the use of VPN’s or made them illegal.
There is one specific application for VPN’s in the crypto space, and that’s when it comes to ICO’s. Some ICO’s restrict investors from certain countries from investing in ISSUE 7 • JUNE 2018 their projects. Using a VPN is a way around that problem in some cases. When logging in to a token sale site, some will check your IP address automatically. If your IP address is from a restricted country, you won’t be allowed to continue. With a VPN that wouldn’t be a problem. However, some projects may ask for KYC (Know Your Customer)/AML (Anti-Money Laundering) info, even after an IP check. Obviously, we can’t recommend giving false information. And keep in mind that if you do provide false information, you’re putting yourself at future risk. When governments regulate, issuers may have to provide their KYC/AML files to government agencies such as the United States SEC.
If the information you provided conflicts with anything the SEC has, you would be in legal jeopardy. We should always follow security best practices in any of our internet use. That’s why it is important to be ever vigilant and keep trying to improve security from every angle. If your crypto activities begin to be worth a significant amount of money for you, a subscription of 5 or 10 dollars a month may become worth it to protect yourself to the fullest. Consider adding a VPN to your arsenal.
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