Can VPN Providers Really Protect Your Privacy?
It’s not enough to just find what you’re looking for online anymore. Sure, you can search for information by Googling or asking Alexa and Siri. But what about the protection and safekeeping of your online searches, otherwise known as your online privacy? Advertisers, data companies, and even hackers use third-party scripts and other sophisticated tracking abilities to monitor your online behavior. Whether it’s researching your next vacation, comparison shopping, or visiting your favorite porn site, you leave digital footprints that can’t be erased easily.
Many have turned to VPN, or a virtual private network, to encrypt internet traffic by building a secure connection between your computer and server. That vacation to Fiji you’re researching —all of that browsing data goes through a “tunnel” as some have described it. That tunnel makes it as though your VPN is researching flight options to Fiji and not you. In theory – this means your ISP, or Internet Service Provider, advertisers, data companies, and even hackers can’t see what you’re doing online.
But are VPNs the end-all-be-all for online privacy?
Apparently not all data traveling your through VPN tunnel gets encrypted and a common misconception is that it will be protected against malware. A recent study analyzing the privacy and security risks of Android VPN permission-enabled apps, found that over 38% of the 4-star rating VPN providers contained some malware presence and only 18% of the VPN apps implement tunneling protocols without encryption, despite promising online anonymity and security to their users.
Major cracks in the tunnel for VPNs?
“In fact, approximately 84% and 66% of the analyzed VPN apps do not tunnel IPv6 and DNS traffic through the tunnel interface respectively due to lack of IPv6 support, misconfiguration, or developer-induced errors.”
Online trackers build a digital profile rich with your browsing history and shopping habits. The result: Selling your profile to the highest bidder or worse, stealing your personal information.
Since your VPN logs your browsing data, your remote server can still give your personal information and browsing history up to the highest bidder. In a lot of ways, you’ve created artificial trust with your VPN. Pro tip: If you’re going to go with a VPN provider, learn more about how they log user data.
And if you’re still on the market for a VPN, take a look at these 7 reasons why VPN isn’t good enough in protecting your online privacy, and tips that Jonas DeMuro gives when choosing a VPN.