The Biggest Misconceptions About VPNs

“You Won’t Even Notice a Difference Using a VPN”

Security comes at the cost of speed, and using a VPN will almost always slow down your internet connection a little bit. Between the security protocols and the encryption, there’s no way around this.

How much this matters depends on what you do on the internet, the speed of your VPN provider, and where you’re tunneling into. If you’re tunneling into a VPN outside of your country, that will add latency no matter what, so expect a slower connection. If you stay within your country, this won’t have the same effect, but it will still be a bit slower than usual. For general browsing this won’t make a huge difference, but you’ll notice slowdown for large file downloads or uploads and video streaming.

Some services and web sites block VPNs altogether because they don’t want you to circumvent region restrictions. Netflix is the most notorious for this, but Hulu tried as well. This might have a different effect depending on where in the world you’re located.

“Using a VPN Makes You Automatically Secure and Private”

The entire purpose of a VPN is security, but if you set it up wrong (or a provider sets it up wrong), then you might lose that security. Likewise, your VPN provider can see all your traffic, which means it can potentially log everything you do or even modify that traffic.

Research published by High-Tech Bridge found that many VPNs used one of several different outdated encryption methods, including the very outdated Point-To-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP). That’s assuming they’re encrypting data at all, VPNs can do whatever they want until someone calls out their BS. Don’t believe me? Earlier this year, security researchers found that 18 percent of VPN apps on Android don’t do the one basic thing VPNs are made to do: encrypt traffic. 84 percent also leaked user data. That’s just on Android.

If a VPN isn’t set up properly, it could also leak your IP address, which links all your data back to you and is problematic if you’re using a VPN for privacy. After you set up a VPN, test it to make sure it’s not leaking your IP address. Leaking can happen due to an old web exploit, or because of a basic security flaw when it’s improperly set up.

Logs are also a crucial issue when it comes to privacy. Some VPN providers keep a log of all your traffic, which defeats the purpose of using a VPN for privacy purposes. If you search for a VPN provider and “logging” in a Google query, you should pull up their privacy policy. There, you’ll find if they keep logs of all your traffic, your access logs, or “whatever law enforcement requires,” which is a bit of a cop out because that could encompass a wide range of things. For true privacy and anonymity, Tor is a better bet than a VPN, because it makes it much harder to trace any data back to you.

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