VPNs have become increasingly popular. This is partly due to the increasing internet surveillance, hacks and censorship. However, there are many myths surrounding VPNs, mainly spread by people with a vested interest. VPNs are very useful, but it is worth knowing the truth about how they work.
Most VPNs promise 100% anonymity; however, that isn’t exactly true. In order to truly ‘disappear’ online you need to take other actions besides using a VPN. For instance, if you are logged in to Chrome while using a VPN, google would know everything that you are doing. The same goes for Facebook. You need to change your Google, Facebook, and internet tracking settings before using a VPN.
Protects from viruses
Unfortunately some people believe that a VPN will protect them from all the nasty things on the web. A VPN won’t protect you from identity theft or viruses. A VPN is just one of the tools you need in the ‘online battle’. For all of the other elements check out my post on how people get hacked, and how to avoid falling victim.
“All VPNs are the same”
Walk into any clothing store, and you will quickly realise that there are differences in quality, and it isn’t always related to price. This is similar in the VPN industry. There are hundreds of popular services, and it can be difficult to choose.
At first glance, they all have the same features, but here are the things to consider when choosing a service.
- Number of servers and locations
One way VPN services try to save money is to buy less servers. However, this can reduce speed, especially during periods of high activity.
- Encryption and log keeping
Some VN services keep logs and submit to the government. On the other hand, some keep anonymised logs, while others keep no logs at all. Some don’t have a choice but to keep logs. This is due to the privacy laws in their respective counties.
Notably, Switzerland is outside of US and E.U restrictions. They have one of the world’s strongest privacy laws. Therefore, a VPN service based in Switzerland isn’t required to keep logs of their users. This is why I use ProtonVPN. It is Swiss-based, keeps no logs and encrypts traffic. Moreover, they have a free, no strings plan for those who want to try them out.
“I am free to view any content with a VPN”
Having a VPN doesn’t mean you are allowed to view illegal content. This changes on a country-to-country basis. If you get caught, your computer will have logs.
The people I know who use VPNs don’t do it because they want to do something illegal. Personally, I like the feeling of freedom, and the knowledge that my online activity isn’t being logged.
“ I don’t need a VPN because I have nothing to hide”
You don’t have anything to hide on your phone, but it still has a passcode. Privacy is important to humans all around the world. Even people living in the Amazon have curtains on their hut entrance.
We are quickly approaching a world in which massive amounts of data get collected just in case. Why is the government so keen to keep tabs on everyone?
“VPNs are illegal”
VPNs are legal; however, U.K based VPN providers are required to make their logs accessible to the government. The same goes for internet service providers. This is due to the investigatory powers act of 2014.
VPNs are incredibly useful tools in the fight against online tracking. However, you need to be careful of your choice of service. Personally, I use ProtonVPN, but you can also check out the 5 Free VPNs I recommend.
What are your thoughts on VPNs and/or increased internet surveillance. Let the community know in the comments section below.