How to Protect Your Privacy on Usenet

Follow these tips to keep your Usenet downloading activities private. 

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Protecting your privacy on Usenet isn't difficult.

In most ways, Usenet offers a lot more privacy and security than Bittorrent. In fact, that’s one of Usenet’s biggest advantages.

But that doesn’t mean you can simply start up your newsreader and start downloading anonymously. Privacy-focused folks will want to take certain steps to ensure they’re as safe and anonymous as possible.

Keep reading for five ways to maximize your privacy on Usenet.

Use a Provider that Doesn’t Keep Logs

What if your entire downloading history from Usenet newsgroups was connected to your IP address and recorded in a database? Not a good thing.

Fortunately, most Usenet providers don’t keep logs of your activity, which is good for both you and them (since they’d also prefer not to know what you are downloading). That being said, your safest bet is to use a Tier-1 provider, since they control their own logs directly. Here are the best Tier-1 Usenet providers.

Take Advantage of SSL Encryption

The top-rated Usenet providers and newsreaders offer something called SSL, or Secure Socket Layer. To put it simply, an SSL connection will encrypt your Usenet traffic, keeping nosy parties – including your ISP – from discovering what you’re up to on Usenet.

Some providers enable SSL by default, others will require you to enable it yourself by assigning the right port. It’s usually port 443, 563, or 8080 – but any provider worth their salt will give you detailed instructions, so follow those and you’ll be fine.

Tunneling Alternative

Usenet provider doesn’t support SSL? We’d recommend switching ASAP. If you absolutely have to go without, tunneling is another option and can be achieved through a SSH proxy or even the free stunnel tool [advanced users only].

Connect Through a VPN

No matter what you’re doing online – whether it’s torrenting, online banking, or just checking your email from the local coffee shop’s WiFi – a good VPN is a must-have. And it’s also one of the easiest and most effective ways to dramatically increase your privacy on Usenet.

In fact, many of our favorite Usenet providers even include a VPN service with your subscription. But whether your provider does or doesn’t, we’d still recommend upgrading to a premium VPN (like ExpressVPN or PIA VPN), which can be had for as little as a few bucks per month. Here are the best VPN services we recommend.

Sign-Up Anonymously

When buying something online, you know that you are required to share personal information – including your full name and sometimes your address – to verify your credit card information. And with Paypal, this personal info is already connected to your account.

If privacy is a major concern for you, it’s always good to avoid giving out your personal details, and the only way to do this is through anonymous payment methods, like prepaid gift cards, postal mail/money order, or with a cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin.

Unfortunately, only a handful of Usenet providers – like NewsDemon and Usenet.Farm – currently accept any of these.

The good news is, if you’ve picked a provider that doesn’t log and also uses SSL encryption plus you use a VPN when Usenetting, paying with your credit card or PayPal isn’t likely to compromise your downloading privacy. But this is something to keep in mind if you’re posting to Usenet though.

Keep Jurisdiction in Mind

Many people consider providers based in the Netherlands to offer slightly more privacy, since Dutch internet laws are less invasive than those in the United States. And there are some great providers based in The Netherlands, like TweakNews and XSNews.

Unfortunately, US-based users will sometimes sacrifice speed when using a European Usenet provider. But like anonymous payments, we don’t believe this is a huge privacy issues, as long as you’ve got your other bases covered.

Privacy on Usenet Summary: Better Safe Than Sorry

If you make sure you’re using a provider that doesn’t use logs, enable SSL encryption, and utilize a top VPN, your privacy on Usenet will be in very good shape. And that’s always a good thing.

Don’t know how to set up SSL or which VPN to choose? We have some great resources here on Cogipas that will help!

Or if you consider yourself a privacy guru and think we missed something, let us know in the comments.

September 16, 2023

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