If you’ve ever seen an ad for a VPN On TV or on the Internet, you might think these are the privacy tools. But the reality is very different from what VPN marketers would like you to think. This is what you need to know.
Let’s fix the biggest problem first: no matter what any VPN provider tells you on their home page, no VPN can guarantee complete anonymity online. The thing is, in essence, VPNs do one thing, and one thing only: fake your IP adress and make it look like you are in a place where you are not.
You can read all about how they do this in our article on how VPNs work But in short, a VPN redirects your Internet traffic through one of the VPN company’s own servers and encrypts that new connection. This keeps you safe from anyone trying to find out who you are by tracking your IP address.
There are many other ways you can be tracked, such as using the browser fingerprinting or through your Facebook and Google accounts. A VPN does nothing to prevent this type of tracking, as they are not dependent on knowing your location.
Fact: VPNs are just one part of a larger toolkit
As such, VPNs are just one tool in your larger arsenal, albeit an important part. If you are using a VPN primarily as a privacy tool, you should also constantly use the incognito mode to log out of Facebook, Google and other online accounts. Use all of these programs together and you can get around the Internet with very little traces.
Here’s another big problem: Most VPNs have some kind of promise to never keep logs pasted across their entire website. “Logs” in this case means a record of your connection to the VPN and thereafter to the site of your choice. It is important that VPNs don’t keep logs as they are the only thing connecting you to what you were doing on the internet.
If logs are kept, that means anyone who wants to know what you were doing (usually marketers, but also authorities in some cases) can look at your logs, provided they have consent or a court order from the VPN. If the VPN doesn’t keep logs, a search will return nothing but empty log files.
Fact: You are taking unrecorded promises to the letter
However, the idea of a VPN that never keeps logs is a bit of a problem. As we discussed in our article on No-log VPN Never actually keeping any logs is complicated since the internet doesn’t work that way, there has to be some logs somewhere in a connection. Instead, what most VPNs do is delete the logs as soon as they are created, but we think the “no-log VPN” is a better marketing copy than the “delete log VPN.”
Despite this technicality, there is also another problem: there is no good way to check if the logs are really not being kept, all the claims from independent security audits indicate otherwise. Testing a negative result is quite difficult, if not impossible, made even more difficult by the fact that the service in question could simply move the log files during the audit.
In the end, you’re really just taking VPNs at their word that they won’t collect your data. The best thing you can do is make sure they don’t have a history of privacy violations and also sign up for VPN anonymously , or at least as much as I can.
Fortunately, the next myth we want to address is about to disappear, but it is still present enough to address it: Using a VPN will not protect you from “hackers,” no matter what. say some VPN or VPN ad sites that are not trustworthy . Whether or not your credit card information, physical address, and other information is stolen does not depend on whether or not you use a VPN.
This is because this type of information is generally sent through a HTTPS connection , the padlock symbol you can probably see to the left of the address bar right now. This means that the information you send to a site through your browser is protected; it has nothing to do with the connection. Because of this, a VPN is of no use to you if identity theft is a major source of concern for you.
Fact: VPNs will protect you from public Wi-Fi hijacking
We suspect that this common misunderstanding stems from the only type of hacker that a VPN will protect you from, that is, the type that hijack a public Wi-Fi connection and steal your data that way. In these very specific cases, a VPN will protect you, as people trying to hijack your connection will only see the VPN connection and nothing else.
The last myth is one that relates to overcoming regional restrictions especially those from streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and many others. Most VPN services will have you believe that all you need to do is hand them some money and you will be able to access libraries in other countries, unlocking tons more content than is available in your own country.
Fact: Netflix and other streaming services may be one step ahead
This is blatantly false. Streaming services have a vested interest in making sure people don’t cross borders with their VPNs. Most will have agreements in place with resellers to ensure that certain content is restricted to specific regions and as such have installed some fairly advanced VPN detection software.
If you want use a VPN with Netflix You can still do it, but you can’t always count on it to work. Our favorite service for this is ExpressVPN but he has even run into some trouble lately. As such, expect some frustration if streaming is your main reason for getting a VPN.