Among the most important ways you can protect yourself while browsing the internet is through using a VPN – a Virtual Private Network.
But, in their increasingly popular use, there are plenty of myths that surround them. Most of these are because people do not understand exactly how they operate, leading to the spread of misinformation.
As an internet user in this age, you do not need to fall into the myths. The truth is important.
Here are some myths, along with the truth that surrounds them.
When I use a VPN, I am anonymous
Many people assume that using a VPN means you are anonymous. However, you are never really anonymous – this is a state of not being identifiable or named. Even when you are using a privacy tool like VPN, Bitcoin or Tor, this service will still have your information to some extent, as they use this to distinguish different users. For instance, using a wallet (in the case of cryptocurrencies) or a set of IP addresses (in the case of VPN). While the information is not enough to reveal your private details, anyone can use it alongside other information to identify you.
The difference between VPN networks is that they increase your online security and privacy to a great extent. Because of this, it is better to have privacy as your goal for using VPN, not becoming anonymous.
All VPN providers are the same
Certain products and VPN services can suffer from DNS and IPv6 vulnerability, which has led to many users questioning the legitimacy of VPN networks. However, it is always important to do background checks and VPN service comparisons before settling on something, because not all VPN products and providers are equal.
When it comes to the risk of IPv6 leaks, only services that run on IPv6 are vulnerable, as well as providers that use third-party clients. On the other hand, DNS vulnerabilities are when a provider does not provide their own DNS services, instead of relying on third-party networks. Both of these will leave you susceptible to data manipulation, logging, or monitoring.
My information is not in the database of my VPN provider if they advertise ‘anonymous services’
Going back to the first point, there is no anonymity when you are using a VPN. However, this misconception has led to several providers advertising that they offer ‘anonymous services’, even though their policy’s fine print indicates that they do log their user data.
You will eventually learn that limited logging to VPN networks is not a bad thing, since it assists the provider to prevent abuse of its IP space, troubleshoots customer problems, and give offers of different plans like multi-device plans. However, it is still misleading advertisement to claim to offer one service yet doing another.
On that front, doing an extensive comparison of VPN service providers will help in weeding out those that compromise your user information, and be in a better position to make a more informed choice – especially when looking at the fine print.
Privacy and anonymity are the same
Any VPN service that claims to make you anonymous will make attempts to remove any identification data, which is an impossible task. On the other hand, a provider that wants to increase your privacy will allow you to control the access of your information, even though they will not remove all your data.
As a VPN user, you should be in a position to use a private web browser, encrypted messaging, proxies, VPNs, Tor, and many other tools that will enhance your online security. All these will assist in defending against mass surveillance programs from ‘deputized’ private corporations or governments that aim to collect your information.
None of the tools will make you entirely anonymous, though. Any service that claims to do so is falsifying what they can do.
When looking at various VPN providers and noticing that they say they do not have ‘any logging’, this does not necessarily mean they will guarantee you online privacy or anonymity. Any person that works as a network or systems engineer will tell you the importance of minimal logging in order to maintain the network or systems in place.
If you come across any VPN provider that tells you they ‘do not log’ your data, then this should raise a number of questions regarding what they are actually doing with your data. If they are not keeping logs, then they should not offer you any extra services either, such as:
· Offering plans that have usage limits such as per-user basis or GB use
· Limiting VPN connections to a 5, 3 or 1 using a per-user basis
· Offering support for issues with servers
· Preventing abuse such as port scanners, spam, and DDOS
· Handle any requests you make for DNS services
Keep in mind that there are many causes of the ‘no log’ VPN providers turning over the information of their users to third parties, and yet they still promise you anonymity. If you are a VPN service user, you need to demand more transparency when it comes to the services you receive and what you get.
Even if the provider uses VPN servers that are cloud or host-based, I can still maintain anonymity
Any network engineer will inform you that running software infrastructure with no log is extremely challenging, and will involve compromising on something else. You can imagine the difficulties when trying to operate your own infrastructure, eliminate logging entirely, and rent all your VPN servers from third-party services.
Rather than this approach, many VPN providers will ‘rent’ their network and servers from ‘landlords’, such as data centers and hosting platforms. However, you are also uncertain whether the ‘landlord’ is keeping your information safe, especially when the provider tells you they will offer you anonymity.
Some of the important questions to ask about VPN servers that use third party renting services are:
· How would they prevent live migrations of their hosted VPN servers?
· How can they protect you from taking snapshots of your machine, hard drive, and system memory?
· How would you know the ‘landlord’ does not have a backdoor to your server, especially when you do not own it?
What’s the best VPN comparison website?
There are lots of websites with VPN reviews on the Internet. But which one to visit to pick up reliable VPN service? Well, the answer is simple – just type “Best VPN in 2020” in Google and you will find at least 10 of trustworthy websites. But there’s one problem with those websites – they made their Top-10 comparison page years ago which doesn’t really reflect the situation in 2020. The solution is visiting a new website with a recently made comparison page. A good example of a new website in the niche is VPNBusters. They list only the most reliable VPN services and avoid those with bad reputation and data leaks.
Using a VPN is important to guarantee your online security, but it is important to ask the right questions when choosing one and leave the myths behind.