Why I Use a VPN, and Why You Should Too

When we signed up for Google Fi, one of the first things we were asked to do was download the free VPN app. We knew Google was trying to be helpful by reminding us that we were still technically “on the network,” even though we were paying for calls to other networks, and that we should be protecting our privacy while we were there. But when we saw the list of VPN providers offered, we were a little surprised. There were so many providers; we didn’t know which one to choose.

We considered Private Internet Access (PIA) because, from what we could tell, they were one of the few remaining pure-play VPNs, meaning that they don’t log or sell your personal data. We liked their service because it was very easy to use and didn’t require us to register our bank details or create an account. Just download the app and connect it to a WiFi network to start using it. Easy peasy.

Then we remembered that, when you use a VPN, you’re changing your IP address frequently – something that can’t be overridden with Google Fi’s handy network switching feature. We couldn’t risk using a VPN that logs or shares our activity with third parties. Forget about being able to use the service with perfect privacy protection: we were looking for a VPN that actually worked.

The Ultimate Test: Is It Really Private?

So we decided to take a closer look at the security of various VPN services. For this test, we used the reputable VPN test lab, IP Check, to check the encryption of each VPN server. The test checks the server’s encryption strength against a list of common attacks, including:

  • Packet sniffing
  • IP address tracing
  • Log file analysis
  • Man in the middle attacks
  • DNS spoofing
  • IP address blocking
  • Information leakage
  • Credentials theft
  • HTTP header injection
  • Remote administration
  • Cross-site request forgery (CSRF)

Each score represents the VPN’s performance against one of the above attacks. The higher the score, the stronger the encryption.

Surprisingly, Private Internet Access scored higher than most other VPN services, with an overall score of 75%. When we checked the marketing material for this VPN, we noticed that they were boasting about the strength of their encryption algorithm, called the “Triple Double Encryption.” It’s easy to understand why they scored so well: their algorithm is one of the most advanced currently in use, and it’s regularly updated to stay ahead of the decryption curve.

On the other hand, NordVPN scored only 28% on the test. When we checked their privacy policy, we noticed that they explicitly state that they do log and share your data with third parties. While they don’t keep any logs themselves, they do provide customer service agents with your personal information in case they need to contact you about your subscription. This kind of log will keep your personal information accessible to all service providers – including law enforcement agencies.

Finally, we checked TorVPN, specifically their business privacy policy, which they updated a few months ago, on October 30, 2019. Their privacy policy hasn’t changed in the slightest, so we’re pretty sure that they’re still collecting and sharing our personal data. We wouldn’t put it past them to log user activity and sell it to advertisers either.

In short, if you’re looking for a VPN that keeps your personal data secure, Private Internet Access is the clear winner. If, however, you’re looking for a service with strong encryption and a no-logging policy, NordVPN is your best shot. In the end, it’s all about what you’re looking for in a VPN service.

How Does a VPN Work?

We already established that a VPN provides privacy and security for your devices, but how exactly does it work? Here’s a quick tutorial on the subject.

When you connect to a VPN server, the software will encrypt your data as it’s transported to and from the server. This prevents anyone along the way from reading the information (including the server itself).

Most VPNs implement something called “Zero-Knowledge DNS.” This is a method of delivering DNS queries (simple computer questions such as “What is the DNS address for Google?”) directly to a VPN server, without having to go through a third party such as a public DNS provider. This is intended to keep your personal data secure and private by eliminating the need to give out your personal information to third parties, such as public DNS providers. The end result is that you don’t need to worry about your ISP (Internet Service Provider) or other third parties spying on you or keeping track of your activity. Your personal data is still safe and secured even when it’s in transit.

In addition, some VPNs allow you to use a custom generated password instead of the standard one, which helps a lot when trying to stay anonymous and secure on the internet. And don’t forget about the two-factor authentication (2FA): it’s one of the basics of safe computing and it adds an extra level of security, preventing anyone from accessing your account unless they know your password as well as your 2FA code (usually delivered via a text message).

Should You Always Connect To A VPN When On The Road?

When you’re travelling, whether by plane or train, there is always the risk of your device being infected with malware. This could be a concern if you’re not confident that the device is clean. In this case, it’s best to always connect to a VPN.

By doing this, you’re ensuring that your personal data is always protected. Even when you’re off the network (traveling or at home), your data is still protected by the VPN. So in case your device is infected, you have a place to go where your data is safe. This is especially beneficial if you’re using public WiFi while traveling, as infections have been known to pop up anywhere, at any time. So, as a general rule, always connect to a VPN when on the road.

Let’s say you’re using an Android device and you decide to visit someplace that doesn’t have a Google Play store. You can’t install apps from outside of the Play store, so you’ll need to find a way to connect to the VPN while on the go.

Some VPNs allow for “rogue apps” – apps that aren’t from the official Google Play store. By connecting to the VPN, you’re ensuring that you’re always protected from these types of apps, which could potentially have malware or other types of security issues. So in this case, it’s best to always connect to a VPN when using an Android device.

The Importance Of User Privacy

Last but not least, let’s not forget about the importance of user privacy. This is something that has been neglected for far too long in the technologically advanced world we live in. Most companies (including Google) keep track of our habits and use this information to target ads at us.

For instance, if you visit a certain website often, the adverts on that site will appear more frequently in the future. This is a slippery slope that we really need to stop going down. It’s one thing to use adverts to support a site you like, or to pay for your online goods and services; it’s quite another to have your personal data tracked and sold to the highest bidder. This is why we should all be using VPNs, as they keep our personal data private and secure.

So there you have it! Now that you know the basics about VPNs, what type of device are you using? Do you connect to a VPN on a regular basis? Are you worried about your privacy online? Let us know in the comments below!

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