Apr 5, 2017

Sound Smart(er): VPN

Welcome to our inaugural "sound smart(er)" item, where we simply explain a tech term so you can impress your friends. Today's term, VPN, is extremely timely given the Trump's recent signing of a bill overturning privacy rules designed to keep Internet service providers from selling your data without your permission.

What it is: VPN is an acronym for Virtual Private Network and is a piece of software designed to create an encrypted tunnel between two points on the internet so your browsing history is both secure and private.

Why it matters: VPNs have long been used to ensure secure connections to businesses or to obfuscate one's location, often to access content limited to a certain location (think streaming video). With Congress' rollback of the recent FCC rules, ISPs can continue to sell data about your browsing habits without your opt-in consent. Using a VPN will limit your ISPs' visibility into your online activities in the first place.

Downside: If you're using a VPN, you may not be able to access all the services you want, namely video streaming services like Netflix or Hulu that need to know where your IP address is coming from for content licensing purposes.

How you get one: There are plenty of VPN services out there, most of which charge a monthly or yearly fee. Tor, a free service, can be used to anonymize browsing without setting up a formal VPN, but rerouting your traffic through multiple servers can slow down your connection speeds and access to some websites.

Go deeper

Trump indulges Wall Street with Milken pardon

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Donald Trump loves Wall Street shenanigans. Companies owned by him have declared bankruptcy six different times, and he was once sued alongside Mike Milken for participating in a scheme to artificially inflate junk-bond prices.

Driving the news: Trump pardoned Milken this week, with an official statement positively gushing over Milken's role in developing the wilder side of fixed-income capital markets.

Situational awareness

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Roger Stone sentenced to 40 months in prison
  2. Top NSC official reassigned to Energy Department amid "Anonymous" fallout
  3. Morgan Stanley to buy E*Trade in $13 billion deal
  4. Coronavirus slams companies' 2020 sales projections
  5. Black activist group gives its first presidential endorsement to Elizabeth Warren

Coronavirus kills 2 Diamond Princess passengers and South Korea sees first death

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. U.S. numbers include Americans extracted from Princess Cruise ship.

Two elderly Diamond Princess passengers have been killed by the novel coronavirus — the first deaths confirmed among the more than 600 infected aboard the cruise ship. South Korea also announced its first death Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,100 people and infected over 75,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 114 new deaths since Wednesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health