Should You Use a VPN?
What is a VPN?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. The purpose of a VPN is to extend a private network across a public network like the internet, and to allow it’s users to share network resources as if they were physically connected to the same private network. VPN connections are encrypted and any applications running on one can benefit from the security and functionality that such a connection provides.
For an example, a certain website or service like Netflix or Youtube is blocked or banned in your country. Connecting to a VPN server in a place where it is not blocked can allow such websites and services to be accessed by using the internet connection shared by the VPN server. This works because your connection to the VPN is encrypted and your internet provider or government can only see that you are using a encrypted connection, but not what it is for.
That is just one of the many reasons you may want to use a VPN, though. Because of the security and privacy benefits, users can circumvent censorship and protect their personal identity; useful in places where citizens are unable to speak their mind without legal or violent repercussions.
Not all VPNs are equal, though!
As with all security measures, VPNs also have weaknesses, and that is the entities operating them and the servers themselves. An optimal VPN provider would be one that can be trusted to have their customers’ best interests and privacy in mind. They would store no logs that could be used to identify users and their data. And they couldn’t be forced to allow data monitoring by unscrupulous governments and entities.
In practice, finding such a provider can be difficult. If this isn’t your first foray into the world of privacy, you’ve already heard the terms 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes. In short, they represent international surveillance alliances representing various countries around the world. These alliances serve to collect and share mass surveillance data. In other words, they serve to spy on you, record your data, and share your activities. More information about these alliances can be found here. If you’re concerned about privacy from your government, it would be wise to find a provider not in one of these countries.
Also, beware of Free VPN services. You’ve likely heard the phrase, “Nothing in life is free.” That is especially true here. These companies have to make money somehow, or they can’t pay their bills and quickly go out of business. When the service is free, this usually means that you are the product. They are likely collecting data on your habits while connected to their services and selling it to third parties. And if they are collecting your data, they definitely store logs of everything you do and will hand it over if forced to do so. Using one of these free services is, at the very least, not protecting your privacy, and at the most can set you up for actual harm.
Who Can I Trust?
I didn’t write this post to make recommendations, because I’m not an expert on the subject. Though, I do use a VPN for certain activities and have been successful so far. In my research, I’ve found the links below to contain some valuable information while choosing a VPN provider.
Do You Use a VPN?
Leave us a reply and share your experiences. I’d love to hear what you have learned, what providers you would recommend, and why. Thanks for reading!