I’ve decided to do a blog about VPNs simply because everyone from techies to non techies and their grandmother are telling me that VPNs are a must. Some go even as far as saying that if I don’t want to pay for one, just use a free one. NO don’t do that. Why? Here’s why.
Normally to reach a website a user connects to their ISP (Internet Service Provider) which then allows you to reach the internet and helps you reach where you want to go.
When using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) you are once again going through your ISP to reach the internet, however before going to your intended destination you go to your VPN to use one of their IP Addressed aka hiding your real IP before being directed to and reaching your destination.
So what’s bad about this? Looks fantastic, I get to go to websites anonymously without anyone knowing who I am. The problem is whether your VPN has any malicious intent. Using a VPN means anything you do goes through your VPN before reaching your intended destination meaning if someone managing the VPN wanted to they can potential grab a lot of information from your web-surfing.
So does this mean VPNs are bad? Should you just never use VPNs? No, not necessarily. Even the more questionable VPNs do mask your IP address, they do as they advertise. You only need to do research before choosing to use one (YAY).
Between googling reviews and the price tag, it is usually fairly simple to guess if intentions are legitimate. For example: a free VPN probably means they’re logging some sort of information down. A monthly/yearly fee VPN usually means safe. But you might say that’s just assumptions and guess work. You’re not wrong.
One fairly simple and reputable way is a website called https://thatoneprivacysite.net/. That One Privacy Guy manages a free spreadsheet that lists the details of a large quantity of free and paid VPNs and lists what the VPN would log if you were to use it.
So at the end of the day, VPNs have their uses and can protect your from outside threats but as the old saying goes, the threats may be closer to home than you think.