How To: Protect Your Privacy on Usenet

by Tracy Knauer •

When you access Usenet, you probably don’t want your true identity to be revealed. Nor do you want your ISP or another party to be able to monitor what you upload and download. Here are tips for using Usenet privately.

  1. Connect with SSL encryption. SSL is the best way to protect your activity from snooping because it encrypts all of your traffic. However, it requires a Usenet provider that supports SSL. Not all providers do, and not all turn on SSL by default, so make sure it is enabled if it is available. If it’s not available, consider finding another Usenet provider. Your newsreader also needs to support SSL; to check which ones do, see this list.
  2. Use tunneling. Tunneling makes it possible to encrypt your Usenet connection even if your provider does not support SSL. Basically, a tunnel works by providing a special, protected route for the traffic between your computer and the Usenet provider, ensuring that anyone tracking your online activity will not be able to see what is passing through the tunnel. stunnel is a free and easy tool for creating tunnels. You could also use an SSH proxy, which is especially easy to set up if you have a Linux or Mac computer.
  3. Connect with a VPN. This may seem obvious, but it’s worth a reminder that a VPN will protect your Usenet activities from third parties, along with the rest of your Internet traffic. If you have a VPN service, log into it before connecting to Usenet. Of course, you want to make sure your VPN provider does not attempt to block Usenet; if it does, you might want to look into a better VPN company.
  4. Use Tor. Tor will hide your real IP address while you use Usenet on an operating system that pipes all network traffic through Tor, like Tails. Your upload and download speeds will be severely restricted because Tor is slow. But in the absence of a better solution, Tor provides a way to access Usenet privately.

Comments 2

  1. Hmmm, I don’t think Usenet over Tor is a good idea (#4 above). True, it would be slow as you say above, but it would be an abuse of the Tor network in the same way as torrents – see . https://blog.torproject.org/blog/bittorrent-over-tor-isnt-good-idea

    Tor hates BitTorrent traffic (see under #1 at https://www.cogipas.com/how-to-torrent-safely/) and Usenet can generate even more GBs of traffic at the same or even higher speeds, so consider dropping #4 off the list. While a premium VPN (#3 on your list) can handle Usenet, I don’t think Tor should be used for Usenet.

    Then again, I stand to be corrected! Let’s see if this generates some discussion.

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