Sometimes you just have a bad day. You can’t find your glasses when they’re on your face. You forget to put water in the coffee machine when you turn it on. Any number of tiny things can turn into huge messes. But your day probably wasn’t as bad as this infamous Russian hacker Guccifer 2.0 who forgot to turn on his VPN before settling down to work.

When the DNC had their emails hacked in 2016 and election data stolen, a lone hacker claimed responsibility. Guccifer 2.0 stepped into the limelight. He claimed he was Romanian and working alone. Funny thing about the internet is that it can trace your data to nearly your exact location. Guccifer 2.0 (like any hacker with a sense of self-preservation) was using a VPN to mask his true whereabouts.

His signal was traceable to a VPN in France, Elite VPN. Where it went beyond that was impossible for government agencies looking into the DNC hacks to find. Guccifer 2.0 could have been anyone.

  Firestick Security warning: Your location is: (Ashburn, VA). Your trackable IP address is (54.84.236.168).
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Except for one day, he forgot to turn on his VPN before logging on to Guccifer 2.0’s social media accounts. What seems like a tiny oversight then turned out to be a very bad, no good, awful day for Guccifer 2.0. He left his unmasked IP on his social media and U.S. intelligence found his exact location. Grizodubovoy street in Moscow inside the Russian GRU main building. (The GRU is Russia’s foreign intelligence division.) U.S. investigators even identified the officer, although they did not reveal the name to media sources.

Since the persona’s creation in early 2016, Guccifer 2.0 maintained that he is a Romanian hacktivist trying to expose the Illuminati. While his VPN was running, the only way to fact check his statements were interviews and language analysis. (Which were done by security experts. After all hacking something like the DNC in an election year is a big deal, no matter what political stance you take.)

The Guccifer 2.0 investigation has been handed over to Robert Muller’s team for analysis into collusion.

What Does This Mean for Normal VPN Users? (i.e., Not Spies, Hackers, or Government Intelligence)

Well, if what you’re up to involves serious criminal or political ramifications. Make sure you use your VPN. Ingrain it so hard into your subconscious that it becomes the first thing you do when you turn on your computer. (Then for paranoia’s sake, go get your coffee then come back and check again.)

The real takeaway for people who aren’t working in espionage is how much a VPN protects you from everyone. If the U.S. government can’t find you after hacking the DNC, then you’re probably safe from everything and everyone.

Your location will be private. All the data companies collect on you from just browsing various websites won’t link to the real you. You can bypass government censorship along with work and school blocks without anyone being the wiser.

It’s not just an “oh this will sorta cover your rear” thing. VPNs are the real deal. They value your safety and privacy more than just about anyone else in the world.

Why It’s Important to Research Your VPN

There are vast differences in the quality of VPNs just like there are differences in the quality of coffee you can buy. There is the free stuff which works to a point, but privacy experts have their reservations about them. Then there are VPNs like IPVanish which run you a few bucks a month.

The primary concern about VPN quality is location and how they can afford to keep their networks running. A couple of countries require VPN companies to keep logs of their users (scary!) The other concern is that if the VPN is free, how do they afford to keep their the servers running?

A few VPNs will sell user data to advertisers to keep their books in the black. That is still a step up from not having a VPN at all but defeats part of the point of maintaining your privacy on the internet.

Google trackers are lurking on 75% of websites. Cover your tracks to protect yourself.

The most important thing about choosing the VPN that’s right for you is to ensure they don’t keep logs of user activity. If they do keep records, those records can be subpoenaed. Then you may as well not have used a VPN at all.

The Takeaway for Non-Hackers

The world is a scary place when someone with tech know-how wants to find you. Nobody but you is responsible for your internet safety. Do your research. Make informed decisions. And always remember that without your VPN a skilled hacker or intelligence officer can find you.

Nervous yet? We are too. Below are a bunch of resources for protecting yourself. Be safe.

Why Should I Use a VPN?
How to Make a VPN Vanish Your IP Address
OpenVPN Server: The Best Server & How to Set It Up

IPVanish VPN Features
Best VPN for Kodi
How to Install Android VPN for Total Security & Online Privacy
Chromebook VPN Setup Guide: Step-by-Step with Pictures
VPN Fire Stick: Unblock Kodi Streams & Hide Online Identity