How to Remain Relatively Anonymous on the iPad

 

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The iPad as many of you may know is my tool of choice when doing almost anything online except playing hardcore PC games, but this is slowly changing (despite iPad gaming almost taking my whole time, I still use my Boot-Camped iMac for this purpose and also own a Macbook Air). I designed this site as a way to celebrate the iPad and although it has had its ups and downs, it truly is becoming a new standard of computing for at least a certain group of uses: those who want simple to use, fun, highly portable, comfortable and in terms of software budget-friendly piece of hardware for their wide variety of computing usage.

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I always thought the Mac, much more so than the PC, was the operating system of choice for those who want a secure, virus-free, and privacy-protected environment. After all, Apple keeps it updated constantly and it comes with a firewall, various options of shredding or securely deleting content (less so on SSD drives) and no registries for every installed app/program, unlike Windows.

This makes it more secure, anonymous and private than Windows, but how does it compare to its mobile cousin, the iPad, relying on iOS? Well, a few years ago, I don’t remember seeing much privacy options on the iPad, particularly when it made its debut. VPN was seen as a premium service for business users then rather than something a mobile device user would even consider. This has all changed now with the advent of Wikileaks, government surveillance and big brother concerns.

The iPad is actually has a pretty good variety of VPN services on the app store and now with the latest iOS versions, they are easy to set up and can become part of device settings and automation. Once you enable the service, you just go to settings on your device and click the on tab under VPN. It is that simple. Before, as in some hears before when I first started learning about VPN, and in older versions of iOS, I do not recall this ease of use. In fact, I actually remember giving up on trying to even use VPN on the iPad.

One free VPN service you can download from the App Store in the form of an app is VPN Proxy Master. It comes with the benefit of a premium license for an additional fee (you can choose from a month up front all the way to an annual upfront payment). This is mostly for those of us who want more servers to choose from, but not much more of a reason to shell out the dough. The app has mixed reviews on the Web, but one thing they all say: it is anonymous and secure.

This is because VPN Proxy Master keeps no logs. So you can safely connect across its wide variety of servers ranging from New York to France or Singapore. No matter what you do online once it is connected, as long as you are safe and stay connected, the app will protect your anonymity and the ip address will be showing only from the servers you connect from. Whatever activity you conduct online will not be logged or recorded by the company, so even governments won’t know what you have been up to; this is great particularly if you travel to the Middle East or China and want to surf the Web from those countries.

The app is also useful for connecting to Web sites that restrict access to regions and tricking them into giving you access to the site or service’s content from that region of the server you choose to connect to. For instance, telecommuting jobs may only be available for sign up from a particular region. This way, you can at least check out those jobs and the salaries they offer without traveling all the way to the location they require.

Another benefit is that apps like Netflix are region based and if you travel somewhere, you may not have access to your account and be able to use it freely. Though if you trick Netflix or the app that you are still in your former region, from which you usually log in from, then you can comfortable continue watching Netflix or using a similar service.

These are just some examples of why using VPN makes sense and is a great option to have. However, another great reason for VPN is security. When you connect over public hotspots, such as a coffee shop’s, you are at risk for data snooping. With VPN, this risk is minimized as it really offers a secure and tunneled connection over the public hotspot.

With all these reasons to use VPN, what are its downsides you may ask? and what are the downsides of the iPad offerings? Well, VPN usually slows down your connection and many of the free options on the iPad, such as VPN Proxy Master, slow your connection down by quite a bit. Usually Proxy Master only offers a few servers with green bars indicating stable and low-latency connections at any given time — a reason to upgrade to the premium version if you have the dough to spare.

One of the complaints you hear about VPN Proxy Master, whether it is the desktop variant or the one on mobile, is that it only offers connectivity to its server database from one device at a time. For me this isn’t an issue as I usually use one device at a time and live alone, but for those of you where this may prove to be problematic, look for other (premium) VPN solutions on the App Store.

Proxy Master also has a weak customer service, but again for me this isn’t an issue as if I ever need customer service I probably will use a different app. One thing that does bug me a bit, however, are its obtrusive ads. Luckily, they do not last more than five seconds.

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VPN Proxy Master just works for me and it’s free. It also connects pretty quickly from the iPad’s settings or from within the app itself as you choose a server from a list. The server list first shown are for the premium offerings, but you can click on the right tab for the free list.

VPN is just one layer of security with many others also needed for a full security package. I may go i to further details later on this, but know that if you combine VPN Proxy Master or another logless service with ProtonMail  (esp through its TOR gateway as that is more sacure than going to Proton from a regular browser and VPN/TOR) and even with some of the TOR browsers, you can truly feel secure when relying on the tablet, for sensitive information, as well as anonymous.

The iPad is no more seen as just a toy or a content consumption device. People do some serious work and even reporting or coverage around the world from it where remaining anonymous and private could mean the difference between life and death. Reporters write journalism articles from it. artists sketch and layer works of art using the iPad Pro’s pencil stylus. Teachers and lecturers show presentations using its various power point presentation apps. And tellers use it to store customer data as well as a cash register. All of these reasons means security and anonymity are great things to have in todays digitally sensitive age.

Please note that there are many other options for VPN on the App Store. There is even a browser called Aloha where you can get VPN directly built into its structure, and also comes with a free option. However, I really like Proxy Master’s anonymity of no data logs and ease of use on the iPad. I also like the fact that Proxy Master tunnels all your Web traffic not just browsing like Aloha. This means you can use it over chat or messengers to name a few services.

Please note that I am no expert on Web security or anonymity, these are just some of the tools I use personally, but there is much more to it to truly remain secure. For instance, you should make sure you are using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) with HTTPS (with TLS 1.2) for websites you visit even with TOR or VPN or a combination of both. You also should have Javascript disabled for many sites.

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