April 27, 2021 6 minutes to read ∙ 1300 words

Ask Techie: Can I Really Trust My VPN Provider?

Welcome to the latest installment of our monthly Q&A column, where a panel of experts answers your questions about using technology in your law practice.

This month we answer readers’ questions about how to know whether your VPN is trustworthy and where to buy used computer parts.

Q: How do I know whether I can trust a VPN Provider?

A: A VPN (virtual private network) encrypts your digital activity and channels it through a private, secure server that allows you to access the Internet (and your confidential information) without exposing it to cybercriminals. Without question, you should be using a VPN that you can trust to access confidential client information. But how do you know you can trust a VPN? Here are some things to look for:

  1. Consistency is key. Look for a VPN service with end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to ensure your confidential information is protected on both ends. E2EE ensures your data remains encrypted throughout the entire journey, from end to end.
  2. Location, location, location. Here we are referring to both the location of your VPN’s servers and where they are headquartered. In certain countries, the government has the right to subpoena a company’s data and can issue a gag order along with it blocking the company’s ability to notify VPN users that their data is being accessed by the government. (Heads up: the United States is one such country.)
  3. You get what you pay for. With so many free VPNs out there, why should you bother paying money for one? There is no such thing as a free lunch—or free, secure VPN service. VPN companies need to make money somehow, and if it is not through premium paid plans, then they are probably making money off your data by logging your activity and selling it to marketers.

Pay attention to these features and read the terms of service closely before selecting a VPN.

Techie: Ashley Hallene, JD, GPSolo eReport Editor-in-Chief, Macpherson Energy Corporation, 661/393-3204 ext. 4105, ahallene@hallenelaw.com.

Q: My old laptop keeps breaking down. Where can I buy used computer parts?

A: The Internet is a magical thing. If you’re looking to replace parts on an old computer, your options are pretty tremendous. In addition to the obvious Amazon, eBay, and craigslist, there are a number of websites that specialize in the sale of computer parts. BMI Surplus is a great choice to look for parts. They sell new, used, and refurbished parts. BMI tests a lot of its parts to ensure that they are functioning, and if a part hasn’t been tested, you can ask them to test it for you. If you can’t find what you’re looking for at any of those three, you can try DreamHardware (great for older stuff) or Discount Electronics.

But what if you have an old computer you want to get rid of or sell for parts? Again, you’ve got lots of options online. SellBroke, ItsWorthMore, and BuyBackWorld are all great options. Amazon also has a trade-in program, as do Apple and Best Buy.

Techie: Jordan L. Couch, GPSolo eReport Contributing Technology Editor, Palace Law, jordan@palacelaw.com.

What’s YOUR Question?

If you have a technology question, please forward it to Managing Editor Rob Salkin (robert.salkin@americanbar.org) at your earliest convenience. Our response team selects the questions for response and publication. Our regular response team includes Jeffrey Allen, Wells H. Anderson, Jordan L. Couch, Ashley Hallene, Al Harrison, and Patrick Palace. We publish submitted questions anonymously, just in case you do not want someone else to know you asked the question.

Please send in your questions today!

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Published in GPSolo eReport, Volume 10, Number 9, April 2021. © 2021 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association or the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division.