Google Alphabet – DIY VPN Service
James Patterson | Last Updated:
Online Privacy & Internet Security Expert
As you probably already know, a VPN works as a privacy buffer between you and the internet. Simply: it does this by encrypting and sending your data to a server then connecting you to the website of your choosing through that server — thereby removing almost any trace of you accessing the site.
There is one issue to this approach though – the company, or government controlling the VPN server. Once a server becomes monitored or is directed access by governments and companies, it loses its entire reason for existence, privacy.
Google’s sibling company, Jigsaw, is now offering a do-it-yourself open sourced VPN service that practically anyone can set up and use on their own devices through their own server or an off-site one. The service, named Outline, is designed to make communication for businesses and their employees entirely encrypted and safe in the privacy-turbulent times we live in.
Outline’s set up process is designed to be entirely effortless and simple to use, and Jigsaw says that even non-tech-savvy businesses will be able to set it up in only a few minutes.
The service utilises AEAD 256-bit cipher encryption and therefore is almost entirely resistant to data probing and breaches. On top of this, the middleman – normally a VPN provider – can now be you. You’ll know that there are no stored logs or personal data as you or your business are the parties in charge of the data. There are also options for users to have their servers hosted by Google or Cloud Engine as well as Amazon’s EC2 servers – all of which are committed to privacy-first hosting.
Secure. Not Anonymous
Outline doesn’t work exactly as a traditional VPN, but its technology does allow users to bypass censored government firewalls as well as gives them access to secure communication with groups that require extra security, like journalists or civil rights programs who need a secure line to the groups they support.
A good example of how Outline works is that it allows companies like the Swedish NGO, Civil Rights Defenders, to be able to contact and interact with their clients like LGBT communities as well as lawyers and journalists who live in deeply controlled and suppressive countries.
The service does, however, make known that they do not keep any sort of logs or any data that can be linked back to you within their code and they advertise this by allowing anyone to access Outline’s source code on GitHub for auditors and security agencies to go over and analyse any threats to security.
Radically Open, an internet security firm, conducted an audit of Outline’s code to ensure the service was secure, and they have chosen to stand by, and endorse the service.
Interface and Pricing
The software for Outline is developed to work seamlessly with Windows PC’s and Android smartphones and laptops, and there is a MacOS and iOS version coming soon.
The interface on which Outline runs is shared by Digital Ocean, and Jigsaw promotes the use of Digital Ocean as the most reliable and easy-to-use provider when setting up the service. This is mainly down to Digital Ocean’s cloud making it especially easy to choose and navigate through different VPN server locations. Outline’s pricing is competitive with other secure browsing providers on the market, starting at $5 per month for 500GB of traffic.
If the service proves successful, Outline could be the first step to the world seeing a truly open source and affordable way to bypass nations that have unreasonable and inhumane censorship of their citizens. Making national revolutions far more difficult to be censored by governments.