2021 NordVPN — Setting up a VPN (Virtual Private Network) for privacy in the new year.

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Google Chrome Inspector Developer Tool connected to VPN

As a developer you may thinking about how to keep your dev machine (the mac, windows or linux computer with all your code) as secure as possible. Well let’s review NordVPN from a developers perspective.

For only $99 a year, you can get a security utility aimed to keep your data safe from unwanted watching eyes. After, reading a few articles and seeing multiple advertisements about the importance of a VPN. I had purchased, tested and confirmed with my own eyes what NordVPN does ~But from a from a developers perspective it may not be what you originally expected. Let’s dive into a review of this service and how a developer could use it.

Your identity online is solely based on your Public IP Address.

NordVPN claims/attempts to encrypt your packets, the bytes sent from your router to your ISP back to your computer on your network. It looks like when you purchase a license from NordVPN you will get access to over 340 servers in one region alone. That’s an Impressive amount of servers to choose between!

What does this mean for your identity online? Well, it means your public IP Address will be different from what it is currently because you “acting” as if you are a different machine on a different network completely once you log into the VPN. Sure, you may believe you are now fully protected but in actuality, you really only masking your public ip address (…your original public ip address via your ISP).

As a developer you may want to control domains, services and various other solutions based on your real Public IP Address. Especially for business, enterprise companies looking to manage their own servers. So, the question comes up.

How is a VPN going to benefit a developer? if you are outsourcing your Public IP address to a different region maybe even a different country?

It’s simple, NordVPN offers Privacy, not Security for the developer that is looking to run services on the internet. It may not help, a specific developer.

It is specifically mention on their website they do not allow port forwarding as this would Open their servers/services to Vulnerabilities. By keeping their ports Closed on those machines they manage to avoid a lot of the issues many developers may face while running their own servers.

🙄 Live chat was helpful. “Unfortunately, it isn’t available on dedicated IP addresses too.”

And not even, a dedicated VPN Server Address at their additional cost associated will allow you as a developer to Open any ports on their servers.

So as a developer purchasing a license from NordVPN, you are paying for the ability to borrow a Public IP Address for as long as you are connected to their client applications (macOS, IOS, Android, Windows). And this will only provide you with the benefit of keeping your own Public IP Address temporarily masked or hidden from any sites you visit while successfully connected of course to their VPN service. So, if you expected to be able to secure your own server with NordVPN, you cannot. They consistently demonstrate a Privacy Policy over a Security Policy in their business model and will not allow any kind of port forwarding. A Security Policy would account for a software capable of port forwarding safely.

Let’s dive into some code, to help illustrate the use of NordVPN as a developer.

How to Get Your Public IP Address

Find your own public IP Address with the help of an external site or DNS service using one of these commands below. Here you can see, we are using curl for query for a site that will directly reply with our ip then we save it using -s to a text file using > then we want to see the output in the terminal using && with a print command. Here you can see we are using $(cat public-ip-address.txt)to read the file and then we are adding a blank line \n to get a clean output to the terminal.

curl -s https://ipecho.net/plain > public-ip-address.txt && printf "$(cat public-ip-address.txt)\n"

You should now see after running this command your Public IP Address 🥳 XXX.XXX.XX.XXX

How to Get Your Private IP Address

Sometimes we need to know our local machine’s IP address. This can be found on most machines with ipconfig and here we are looking for the en0 (en1, en2) whichever is available on your device. It can depend on the machines configured network interface.

ipconfig getifaddr en0

You should now see after running this command your Private IP Address 🤩 XXX.XXX.XX.XXX

Well, it may not all be a waste without port forwarding.

As a developer, it may be helpful to run the NordVPN Server when working with Geolocation features of a website. Perhaps a map feature that needs debugging or maybe even while testing Google Analytics for a website.

You can spin up a connection to a VPN instantly and visit your live site as a different user.

Testing if your site blocks any traffic or is missing any clicks on a button.

However, to use a VPN to protect your own server that lives on the internet.

You will not be able to use NordVPN for this purpose.

You can only use NordVPN for browsing on the internet. Overall, if this is something your are in the market for its worth checking out.

Keeping your dev machine on a VPN won’t help you reach the internet outward but can keep your dev machine partially invisible for the most part while operating on the internet.

It’s important to understand the difference while looking into security and solutions on the web.

Happy Coding!!

Designer | Developer

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