Every time you use the Internet or look through your social media page, you leave digital traces. These might include personal information like your name or address and records of your online activity like the websites you browse and movies you watch.
Commercial organizations acquire this information to make your life simpler, more personalized, and more streamlined. However, hackers may get access to it to steal your identity and compromise your security.
If you’re concerned about your online privacy, you’ve probably come across “the term” that claims to address all of your security issues: a VPN. VPN is an abbreviation for Virtual Private Network, and it encrypts and anonymizes your internet connection by disguising your internet protocol (IP) address.
But are VPNs safe?
Let’s find out.
Are VPNs Safe?
Most VPNs are safe, but some will leak your sensitive data to third parties. To keep it simple, VPNs are only safe when you choose a secure and trusted VPN provider service. Secure VPNs have unique features that distinguish them from the rest. For instance, they don’t keep logs of a user’s browsing history and will always be transparent about their privacy policies.
All you need to do is buy VPN with a no-log policy and other additional features to stay put in this situation. While the right VPN can help you stay secure on the Internet, investing in a dubious or FREE VPN will put you at risk of being a victim of cybercrimes.
1. They Store and Sell Your Data
VPN providers that display advertising prominently or aggressively are most certainly tracking your browser activities. They intend to profile you in the same manner that Google and Facebook do.
Installing a VPN that collects and sells your traffic data to the highest bidder is not very safe. Its database is vulnerable to hacking and may eventually divulge your personal information to identity thieves.
This is most evident in free services.
So, is VPN safe when it costs money? Not necessarily, but you’ll know their source of income.
2. They Install Malware On Your System
Some VPNs may infect your device with malware, as strange as it may sound. Most of the time, it is for advertising purchases. However, some offenders go too far.
There are VPN service providers that steal your bandwidth by covertly using your device’s processing power for profit. They enable other users to connect to the Internet using your Internet Protocol (IP) address. As a result, they hold you liable for any unethical behavior committed by others online.
Some malware-infecting VPN service providers even acknowledge doing it.
3. They fail to encrypt your IP address and DNS requests consistently
Any vendor responsible for IP and DNS leaks isn’t worth the hassle. These VPN security concerns negate the entire point of utilizing a privacy solution, whether free or premium.
That is why you should conduct tests first. Perform one before and one after launching the app. These tests are only a few seconds long, so don’t skip them.
4. They have dubious owners.
A VPN is only as reliable as its owner. However, determining a company’s legitimacy might be challenging at times. A VPN run by an unknown firm does not inspire trust in terms of cybersecurity.
In addition, several VPNs are sibling brands.
Are VPNs secure when a single company manages them?
Even if you avoid a particular company because of its contentious past or origin, you may adopt a service it provides.
5. They use debatable protocols
Some VPN providers employ antiquated tunneling technologies, a recipe for a cybersecurity nightmare. The Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is a good example.
Outdated procedures for packaging and delivering traffic data may use insecure encryption. Snoopers can exploit this vulnerability.
Are VPNs secure if they do not support the tunneling mentioned above protocols? Perhaps, perhaps not.
Except for PPTP, any mistrust of L2TP/IPSec and SSTP is usually based on conjecture. We have no concrete proof that they have hidden backdoors. However, having additional reliable solutions, like OpenVPN and WireGuard, is advantageous.
So are VPNs free? There are plenty of free safe VPN options available, but not all are safe. We recommend getting yourself a paid VPN service because at least you know what you are getting yourself into.
A free trial is a risk-free approach to test-drive a provider at no expense. Yes, if your credit card information is required upfront, it may be financially dangerous. However, that will not be a problem if the provider allows you to test the complete version. If you don’t like it, you can cancel at any time.