Understandably, using the best Windows VPNs or any other device VPN services will make you feel as though nothing can stop you – you can surf the internet without a care in the world because no one will get a hold of you.
- However, there are still some risks involved with using VPNs.
- Yes, as strange as this statement may sound, using VPNs comes with a few risks of its own.
- What exactly are these risks, you may ask?
- We will answer the questions in this article, so stick around for more information on that.
1. What about the positive traits of VPNs?
Much of what you hear and know about VPNs relates to the great things they can do for you. They boost your online security, improve your online privacy, and encrypt your data, and so on. That does not mean they are entirely great at what they are intended to do, and this leads to the question of the dangers you might face when you use a virtual private network.
2. The basics of VPN
The Virtual Private Network is among the leading steps to ensure digital privacy, which is hard to come by in the internet space. They also serve to surpass internet fast lanes, since they are not under the jurisdiction of net neutrality laws, and this is due to certain features they hold.
a. Victual IP addresses and encryption
These are what make the VPN strong enough to protect your security. While encryption does this through masking your data in unbreakable code that prevents third parties from seeing what you are doing, the virtual IP address will make you invisible in a sense – since nobody can tell your physical location or your identity.
b. Logging policy
This is a significant selling point for numerous VPNs, which means they do not keep your activity records on what you are doing as you use their service.
Every time you log into the server, you agree to send your traffic through them. The service, on the other hand, will need to decrypt the information (this is necessary for the service to work), the provider can easily keep your logs or the information about downloads. If you want to maintain your privacy, you will need to ensure the service has a zero-log policy.
c. Paid vs. Free VPN
Choosing the wrong VPN is a bad idea for your security. It becomes even worse when you are using a free VPN, as they can be even riskier than not using a VPN.
If the provider is not charging you a fee for maintaining the service, then it has to be getting the money from other sources. The most common way is selling user information, even though it promised you that it would keep it safe. You are better off sticking to reliable paid sources to guard your data – especially since VPNs these days are far cheaper than what they once were.
d. Limitations of VPNs
VPNs are great at what they do, but you cannot expect them to do all things. For instance, if you are using a Windows computer, it is still essential to keep a virus protection mechanism and firewalls, as they will take care of aspects that the VPN cannot handle.
The reason behind this is due to:
- A VPN will not automatically protect all devices – if you are using VPN software to protect your phone or PC, whether Mac or Windows, the VPN will only protect that specific device. To maintain the security of data, you will need to install a VPN app on all the tools that use the internet. If this does not sound interesting to you, then you will need to use a VPN router.
- Problems of speed – using a VPN will slow down your speeds between 10 and 25%, depending on the specific service you use. The reason behind this is the process of encryption overheads, and this can lead to the use of VPN quite frustrating if you are doing online gaming or streaming HD movies frequently.
3. The dangers of using VPNs
Keeping in mind how VPNs work, you should look to whether issues will occur as you use it. The questions to answer in this case include:
a. Can you trust a VPN?
When you think about it, you really cannot do so. There are very few VPN companies that will allow external companies to do a security audit on them, which also means you cannot thoroughly verify whether a provider will follow through with what they promised you.
Even if the VPN provider tells you that you can trust them, and also if they claim to have zero-logging policies, you cannot always be sure.
b. IP issues with logging
This is the core of every VPN service out there, with most providers claiming they have a zero-logging policy. While this promise sounds enticing and attractive, you also need to remember that nothing is stopping them from storing your data. That, unfortunately, means that the zero-logging policy is useless, especially in a disreputable VPN provider.
c. Restrictions on traffic
Though this is not as risky compared to dealing with an unscrupulous VPN provider or logging issues, there are instances of VPNs being caught blocking user traffic or actively throttling the progress of transportation.
This is mainly in the form of firewalls that stop any torrent downloads or network access, and this slows down the entire service. The VPN service can also inhibit internet connection if the user is streaming or downloading too much.
You may not think much more about it, but the location that a VPN is registered in will play a significant role in its security. If the VPN is located in a country that has an authoritarian government, for instance, they will still be coerced to give out user information – even if they advertise a zero-logging policy.
4. Final thoughts
The VPNs are mostly safe for use, and they will give you plenty of useful features for your privacy and security. However, it would help if you were careful when choosing a VPN; many of the ‘free’ ones are quite sketchy and can risk your privacy without your knowledge.