Staying Safe on Usenet: Basic Security Precautions

Usenet is an excellent social network that enables you to read interesting perspectives from a variety of sources; it’s also a great way to make friends through common interests, as newsgroups foster close relationships through consistent, everyday discussions.

While it’s much safer than social media networks for those concerned about internet safety, there are still some basic precautions you must take while utilizing Usenet. Today, we’ll provide some helpful tips that will keep you secure as you download information and contribute to meaningful conversations about the topics that matter to you most.

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Sign Up With a Separate Email Address

Many of us use our emails for both our everyday life and business transactions, such as sending our resumes when we’re looking for a job or connecting with family and friends. While your activity with Usenet is mostly anonymous and only connected to you through your Usenet provider, you may still choose to sign up with a separate email address to further delineate your activities from any association with your professional life.

Some providers will also allow you to pay for your subscription with Bitcoin, especially if you have your Bitcoin wallet attached to your PayPal account. Because Bitcoin is mostly anonymous, you can be sure that your bank account will not be attached to these transactions. However, it’s important to note that not every provider allows this; if you’re very concerned about your bank account being associated with your Usenet conversations out of fear of your reputation, then choose a service that lets you pay with these more anonymized payment methods.

Choose a Reliable Usenet Servicer

Unlike other social networks, Usenet is accessed through a network of third-party providers, which route your requests to the central server hub to download digests from newsgroups. All your interaction with Usenet goes through this company rather than being tagged or logged in the central servers. 

Because you mostly work with a third party when engaging with Usenet, your Usenet provider service makes a huge difference in your safety. You should choose only the best affordable Usenet providers, ones that have a strong commitment to safety. 

Good options are those based in the United States or European Union, which must adhere to strict data privacy standards regarding what they can log or track.  

Use a VPN

While Usenet uses end-to-end encryption that will keep bad actors from accessing your information, you also need to concern yourself with the security of your home network while using any service, Usenet or otherwise. A VPN adds another layer of security, further encrypting your data and preventing any intrusions while you’re downloading information from your newsreader. Make sure that any DNS requests are routed through your VPN; otherwise, they may not be secure. You can also configure your VPN with a kill switch, which will cut off your internet connection if your VPN drops.

VPNs are also useful for other online surfing, like paying for things through eCommerce sites or inputting sensitive information into forms; they’re a great idea for anyone who is concerned about internet privacy and wants to ensure that no one can commit identity theft.

Avoid Sharing Personal Information

Lastly, much of your safety on Usenet is up to you. Newsgroups are mostly anonymous; you don’t sign up to your provider with anything but an email address and bank account, then pick a username accordingly. As such, you must carefully monitor the information you provide to others during discussions.

Most Usenet providers simply pick a username and password for you, then allow you to change your password; you should always choose one that is hard to guess and has no relation to your personal life. 

When interacting with others in discussions, you may decide to pick a pseudonym to sign your messages. This could be anything from the name of a writer you admire to a simple noun. For verisimilitude, you might use a random name generator and find an exciting title that has nothing to do with your real name.

It’s common for people on Usenet to develop deep and long-lasting friendships, but you should be cautious about sprinkling in references to your real-life location, vocation, or relationships. You might discuss a general area you live in, such as the Midwest or West Coast, or you may describe a vague line of work, like saying you work in IT rather than giving your full title. This still allows you to make friends and get to know people, but it creates more distance that will protect your identity.

Usenet is a social network with staying power; it’s been around for 40 years and will remain a beloved internet institution for many more. However, you must protect your privacy on Usenet and any other social network by choosing good providers, signing up with a different email address, leveraging a VPN, and avoiding giving out too much personal information. If you follow these safety tips, you can have an enriching experience without sacrificing your security.