In an age where people value privacy and data security, VPNs are a very common tool across the globe. In very basic terms, a VPN can mask your device and network information. It also creates an encrypted tunnel for data to flow to and from your device. The encryption and masking make it virtually impossible for your government, internet provider, or just about anyone else to eavesdrop on you or steal information. Of course, many plans like Spectrum deals already have advanced security layers to protect subscribers. But many people continue to buy into the privacy and digital security a VPN service can offer.
Unfortunately, not all VPN services are created equal. Some of them may be doing exactly what you are afraid of. They could be monitoring you, harvesting data on you, and selling it to third parties. This is often the case with “free” VPN applications. Surprising right? This blog examines the kind of information your VPN could be accessing, and how you can identify if it is.
A Free VPN is Bad News
As a general rule, you should stay wary of free VPN applications. There are a huge number of them available on Android’s Google Play as well as Google’s library of third-party extensions. And a lot of people use them simply because they seem to be top-ranking results and cost nothing. However, these VPNs could actually be doing the opposite of what you needed one for in the first place. Remember, offering VPN services isn’t cheap. That means a VPN company needs to generate revenue to cover costs and make a profit. In certain cases, a free VPN could be doing this by tracking and selling your data.
And it’s not just the VPN that could be putting you at risk, even if they aren’t monitoring and selling your data. A free VPN may have to make use of ads to earn profits, especially if they aren’t selling information to third parties. However, clicking on an ad could potentially infect your device with malware. This could allow cybercriminals access to your information, and can even let them use your device for more nefarious activities.
Paid VPNs May Not Always Deliver Desired Privacy
There are a large number of paid VPNs available as well. However, people tend to think that with paid VPN applications, choosing one is simply a matter of finding the right price. This is often why VPN subscriptions jump up during sales like Black Friday when prices are substantially slashed. But there is much more to choosing a paid VPN than simply the price tag.
A paid VPN will usually be a step above a free one. But all of them may not offer the same features. You may end up choosing a VPN that does not offer the necessary levels of privacy and protection that you need. You need to be aware of the features that are non-negotiable and base your decision on that rather than the price alone.
Data Logging Policies Can Be Tricky
VPNs can log your data for several reasons. If it’s a shady VPN application, such as a free one, it would probably be logging your data to sell to advertisers and other third parties. On the other hand, some VPN services may be required to log data, based on laws prevailing in the country where they do business. Connection logs can potentially put your browsing habits and privacy at risk.
A fairly reliable test is to check whether your VPN service has any download or connection time limits. If so, then it is probably logging the data, since there would be no other way to know that you exceeded those limits. A good VPN service will come with no download limits. In any case, you should pay close attention to any data logging policies your VPN has, including what the policy allows the service to do with the logged data.
Signing Up and Paying for a VPN Reduces Anonymity
Most VPNs will require an email ID for you to sign up to use it. If you subscribe to a paid VPN, you may also need to hand over some payment information. The only sure way to protect your identity with a transaction is to use Bitcoin, cash, or gift cards. Of course, your VPN service may not accept these as forms of payment.