Some computer security programs don’t work well together


Q: Hi Geek, I have a fairly new HP laptop with Windows 10. I use Bitdefender Antivirus Plus and use the VPN when I’m away from home. The company sent out an ad about new capability called anti-tracking and ad blocking. Just went into the settings and enabled them to see if they worked. When I activated the VPN, a notice popped up that said I had to disable Secure DNS in order to use those features. I’m not sure that’s a good idea. What say ye? Thanks for all the good work.

Curtis R., Fort Walton Beach

Jeff Werner

Jeff Werner

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A: Hi back to you, Curtis. I like your question a lot, because you’ve thrown out some advanced concepts and terminology that gives me the opening to teach some things to the rest of my readers before answering your question. Hopefully that will give everybody a chance to learn.

First of all, let’s talk about the meaning of VPN. This is an acronym that stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN is a means to give you privacy, and a level of anonymity while online. It uses end-to-end encryption to virtually extend the private portion of your computer’s network across the public internet. This effectively masks everything about your connection, including your location and IP address. This makes your activity online virtually untraceable.

You’re wise to use a VPN while travelling, Curtis, because public Wi-Fi in hotels and other public places are rife with hackers waiting for an opportunity to steal information and passwords from you. But do you realize that they offer the same type of protection when you’re at home? You might feel safe behind your home network’s firewall, but you can still benefit from having your IP address anonymized, and all the data travelling over your internet connection encrypted.

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