VPNs have become crucial tools in order to stay safe while browsing the internet. They make it that much easier to work and browse anonymously. However, with so many options out there, including free solutions, should every VPN be trusted?
A Virtual Private Network encodes your internet traffic and transmits it via remote servers. As a result, your data and your location is protected. No-one can easily get access to information such as your downloads or browsing history.
How do you know that a VPN is safe? First of all, on Reddit you can read that VPN software is safe. You should, though, be a little wary of free VPN solutions that are available in the Apple or Google Play store. These have to make money in order to keep running, so you might question whether your information is being logged or not..
Should you get a VPN?
If you need anonymity as you browse the internet, yes, you should. It is great for protecting your online anonymity. Also, it comes in handy at home when you want to stream content that may be unavailable to you – from other countries etc.
A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel for your traffic, so other internet can no longer monitor what you’re doing or where you are. While your online activity may be perfectly innocent, nobody wants a peeping Tom following their online activities.
Can a user be tracked even when they use a VPN?
When you are connected to a VPN, your network goes through a protected tunnel. Not even your Internet Service Provider can access your traffic. Therefore, it would be difficult for anyone to track your online activity.
However, difficult does not mean impossible. Check whether your VPN provider logs your activity. Some do, but many will promote the fact that they don’t – this is definitely the preference.
A VPN protects you in instances such as the following:
- Making it difficult for advertisers to get to you
- Limiting cybercriminals access to you
- Keeping your online activity safe from anyone that may be spying
- Allowing you to access material that may be unavailable to you
How do you know which VPN you can trust?
Note that each VPN provider has its unique features, merits, and demerits. While there are free VPNs out there, paid ones come with additional benefits such as more advanced security features and a “no logging” promise.
The first thing you want to think about when shopping around for a suitable VPN is the price. Naturally, you want one that fits your budget. However, if your online security is important to you, you won’t mind a small fee charged.
Apart from payment, a trustworthy VPN contains features such as the following..
It does not leak IP addresses
One of the reasons you want a VPN is to have your IP address concealed. Are VPNs completely foolproof when it comes to IP address leaks? Unfortunately, they are not. However, if this is your biggest concern, you can opt for a VPN that specialises in preventing leaks with split tunnelling and multi-port connections.
Reviews from users are always a great place to start. Both positive and negative reviews will reveal a lot about the VPNs you have shortlisted.
Most paid-for VPNs will need you to login before even using the VPN, however free ones won’t. Ensure that your VPN connection is protected and that no-one else can use it by choosing a provider who will lock-down your VPN account.
It Does Not Collect Your Data
As mentioned, if you want a VPN that does not log your data, a no-log VPN is your go-to option. It does not save your private details, your location, or your search history. Hence, your online activity is protected from everyone including your VPN provider.
Read the VPN provider’s terms of service to find out what the company does with data. For instance, do they keep logs or disclose user information under certain circumstances? Do they regularly clean out their logs?
Sometimes your VPN connection may drop. If this happens, your internet access may revert to a regular connection. A kill switch allows your VPN to quit certain programs if the connection drops. This prevents leakage of data from sensitive programs.
Your choice of VPN will depend on the features they offer. If you simply need one that hides your IP address or a no-log one, then you’ll need to pay. A paid VPN is more trustworthy than a free one because it comes with more security features including excellent customer care.