You’ve already heard the bad news right?
Internet service providers in the US want to collect your data and then sell it without your prior permission.
Well then, here is the good news.
A virtual private network (VPN) is the only and probably the best way to protect yourself and keep those internet service providers at bay.
The only problem is that VPN services are rather notorious for being sketchy.
Signing up for a VPN service isn’t easy at all.
It’s complicated even.
Perhaps that should be expected when an entire industry is unregulated.
Sometimes, signing up for a VPN service can itself be a security risk if you don’t know how to set up VPN services in a correct manner.
Everybody on the internet is now talking about VPNs.
We’re not the exception here either.
You don’t want to know how internet service providers are going to sell your data.
What you probably want to have is a VPN refresher.
A VPN basically encrypts user data.
It does that before the data is sent from the user’s device.
As the data travels from the user’s local area network and then to the internet service provider and then to the VPN provider itself, it stays encrypted.
What we just described above is called tunneling.
The online user traffic is only decrypted when it arrives at the VPN servers.
After that, the same user traffic is sent out into the open world of the internet.
Of course, we’re assuming that the user is connected to a public place internet.
Most of the times, this translates to a Wifi network, most probably a compromised one, at a coffee shop.
There is no guarantee if someone isn’t trying to spy on your activities online by tracking your internet traffic.
So if you don’t want that to happen and want to hide your online traffic and activities from entities such as government agencies and especially your ISP then a VPN is your best friend.
With a VPN service, no one will ever be able to monitor your browsing history.
The websites you visit will be hidden from everybody else.
Now was that simple or what?
But even then, some people really have no idea what a VPN does and what it doesn’t.
Here are the top misconceptions about VPN services.
VPN Services Protect Users From Ad Tracking
Let us tell you what VPN services will do.
They will mask your real IP address.
And then, relatively speaking, turn you into an invisible user in the eyes of your ISP.
What a VPN service will not do is block all the other, probably millions, of ad trackers that are present in the wild world of the internet.
And you do know how ad trackers work right?
If you don’t then it’s not a problem.
Just read on.
Ad trackers don’t track you via IP address.
They identify you by using those annoying things called cookies.
If you bought a VPN service because you were sick of ad tracking then sorry, a VPN won’t help you much in that regard.
Prepared to be disappointed.
In fact, there are VPN services out there in the market that actually serve you with their own ads.
Sometimes, VPN services also sell user browsing data to third-parties just like ISPs want to.
Remember Hola Better Internet?
Perhaps the biggest and most well-known example of a fake VPN service is Hola Better Internet.
Because its own users caught it when it tried to inject its own online advertisements.
To block ad trackers, you need to use an internet browser that has privacy-focused extensions.
Now, these extensions will work overtime to protect you from ad-trackers.
Ad trackers will not be able to follow you everywhere you go.
Most of all, they won’t slow down your internet connection or your web browsing experience which most bad VPN services do.
VPN Services Don’t Affect User Experience. It’s Just Like Normal Internet Connection.
Remember that a VPN gives you security.
But it gives you security at the cost of internet speed.
VPNs by their nature will always decrease the speed of your internet connection.
Even if it is a little.
You can’t get around that because a VPN must follow the same security protocols and encryption methods whenever you connect to the internet.
So how much does a VPN service slow your internet down?
It depends on the user.
If you’re the type of user who likes to view a lot of videos then you will feel the difference.
General web browsing will seem just fine.
The speed of a VPN service provider does matter but there are other bottlenecks as well.
In short, if you have a VPN service turned on then stay away from large sized downloads and streaming videos.
Uploads will slow down too so better keep those to a minimum too.
Add to that the fact that there are a lot of streaming websites now that actively block VPNs from even operating.
Some websites do the same too.
Because they don’t like the fact that you’re trying to bypass geolocation restrictions.
Netflix is the obvious streaming website example that comes to mind and who know maybe blocking VPNs will lead to its downfall.
Hulu tried to do the same but didn’t follow up as hard as Netflix did.
Of course, this is a region-specific problem and a lot depends on where you are located on the map.
When You Use A VPN Service, You Are Automatically Private And Secured.
The only reason people sign up for VPN services is because they want security.
IF you don’t know how to set the VPN up properly or even if your VPN service providers messes up on its end, then you won’t get that security.
Needless to say, besides you, your VPN service provider can actually see all of your internet traffic.
Potentially, it can even log all your online activities.
It can even alter your internet traffic.
High-Tech Bridge recently published a report that said that a lot of VPN service used either one or all of the outdated encryption methods.
These outdated encryption methods include PPTP which stands for Point-To-Point Tunneling Protocol.
Of course, the study assumed that these old encryption methods actually encrypt data.
We can’t say for sure they do.
Since there is no regulator in the VPN industry, some VPN services take advantage of this fact and market anything and everything they want.
That is, until someone calls them out.
But you don’t have to take our word for it.
A while back security researchers also discovered that about 18 percent of the VPN apps available for Android didn’t do one simple thing.
Encrypt internet traffic.
Moreover, over 84 percent of the VPN apps for Android leaked user data.
Again, we’re just talking about the Android platform here.
VPN services can also leak your IP address if you don’t know how to set them up properly.
A leaked IP address is bad.
Because it can potentially link to your data all the way back to you.
And basically, kills your privacy.
Whenever you set up a VPN service, always test the VPN service and ensure the fact that it doesn’t leak your IP address.
Some hackers use old and forgotten web exploits to make VPN apps leak IP addresses.
However, some VPN apps are plainly not good enough and have security flaws especially when users can set those apps up correctly.
Logs Are A Problem Too
If we’re talking about privacy, let’s not forget logs.
Logs are very important.
Because it’s basically a record of your traffic.
We’ll tell you right now that some VPN service providers do keep logs.
And that, as you can probably tell, defeats the whole point of purchasing a VPN service since there is no privacy there.
That’ll also help you differentiate between VPN services that log all user traffic and the ones that only keep access logs.
Some VPN services just mention the fact that they keep as much information as law enforcement agencies require them too.
Beware of that too since it is generally more of a cop out than anything else.
Law enforcement agencies could want a wide variety of things.
So a VPN service complies with them all, then there is no use of a VPN for users.
If you want genuine privacy along with anonymity, then think about using Tor.
Some people think that Tor is actually better than a VPN service but of course, that isn’t true.
But Tor does make it harder for government organizations and advertising companies to track any internet traffic data back to the user, that is, you.
There Is A Single Best VPN Service
The world would be a great place if someone could just compile a big bad list of best VPN service available online.
There is a slight problem though.
You can’t really pick a single VPN service that is reliable and trustworthy.
It’s almost impossible.
Not totally impossible though.
At a basic level, users want to sign up for a VPN service for a variety of reasons.
It is the “why” that matters when it comes to searching for reliable VPN services.
Some VPN services are better at security while others offer more choice in unlocking region-blocked content online.
A few VPN services also focus entirely on privacy.
As far as the United States of America is concerned, there are a lot of VPN services here that aren’t really VPN services in the strict sense of the word.
Because of all the factors we just mentioned.
As mentioned before, the VPN industry isn’t regulated.
That may come as a surprise to some since most of the services we use today are definitely regulated.
And since there is no regulation, there are no security audits either.
VPN services are free to say whatever they want to say about their product and other sensitive topics like security and privacy.
No one can hold these VPN services accountable.
Except for users who regularly unearth bad practices in the industry.
That’s the only public liability present here.
You Are Responsible First
All of this means that you have to do your research before purchasing VPN services.
A quick Google search is okay but shouldn’t be relied upon.
Proper security requires a lot of homework.
And there are enough guides on the internet on this topic so make yourself useful.
Generally, though you’ll want to,
- Search every VPN service provider you’re interested in for their logging policy
- Visit forums to see if users are commenting on that VPN service
- Test the VPN service after you have set it up correctly
There is a decent chance that you won’t be able to find anything about a VPN service provider.
If that is the case then always remember “if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is”.
Popular VPN services are fine though because people know them and can hold them accountable.
VPN services are getting a lot of media attention lately.
But that doesn’t change the fact that they are complicated.
For nerds only, some might say.
You’ll need to spend a bit of effort in finding the right VPN service.
And if you think about it, “researching a product” is true for any $50 to $100 a year service, not just VPN services.
Our research shows that IPVanish is the best VPN service in the market today. Read our review for it here.
Because it is reputable and has been for the past many years.
You can go to the official IPVanish website right now and sign up for a package of your choice. To do that click here.
In the end, always do the required work related to research before you sign up for a VPN service.
After that, make sure that VPN service is properly set up and working.