The term VPN is not new to most internet users. While VPN technology has certainly made online spaces better for businesses and individuals alike, parts of it are often misunderstood. This is partly because of the misrepresentation of what VPN technology actually does.
While VPNs are being used by a large number of internet users, there are still several myths surrounding them. Let’s cover some common myths about VPNs and find the realities behind them.
Myths About Online Anonymity, Privacy, And VPNs
You Can Be Anonymous On The Internet
Online anonymity – total online anonymity – is something which is not practically achievable. Whether you use VPN or Tor or any other technology, you always have some bit of information which can reveal your identity. Even Bitcoin is not actually anonymous and is now referred to as pseudonymous.
This fact is why dark web and torrent sites are often taken down, their anonymity gets compromised with small errors.
The truth about online anonymity is that it does not truly exist. Online privacy, however, is a very real and tangible goal which is achievable with the right kind of VPN. Of course, the user needs to know how to use the VPN to remain private.
Anonymity Is The Same As Privacy
Anonymity refers to the state of your identity being unknown. Privacy refers to your activities being unknown to third parties. The two have similar overlapping domains, however, they are not the same.
Online anonymity is practically impossible because of the process involved in establishing internet connections. One or more factors will always point to your identifiable details. On the other hand, privacy can be achieved by simply concealing your activities. This is practically achieved using a VPN, Tor, proxy servers, etc..
VPN With “No Logs” Policies Are Truly Anonymous
The “no log” policy is one of the latest buzzwords in the VPN industry. However, it does not exactly mean what it sounds like. Even the most privacy-centric VPN will have to keep some degree of logs. This is required for a number of reasons including tracking usage, billing, login/logout records, and app error logs.
Keep in mind that this does not mean that your online privacy is being breached when using such VPNs. VPN logging is only a problem when it records all of your online activity.
VPN With Cloud-Based Or Hosted Services Can Provide Anonymity
We’ve already established that online anonymity is practically impossible while privacy is more feasible with a VPN. But even that privacy may not be achieved. It all depends on the manner in which your VPN service provider offers its services.
If its servers are hosted by a third party or based on cloud services, there will always be private data available to others. The third-party hosting the servers can easily monitor server traffic. In doing so, they can see what you are doing and so, your online activity will no longer be private. There are too many loops in the security chain to ensure comprehensive privacy.
Grey Area Data Selling Doesn’t Affect Me
Online firms collect and sell data at huge volumes every day. If you are on Facebook or using Google right now, you can bet some marketer somewhere is bidding for your data. This is a well-known fact but this can be avoided by using a reliable VPN that offers good privacy-centric policies. However, if your VPN itself is selling your data, then you have just gone from the frying pan to the fire.
Further, very few people actually read privacy policies in full so, they are likely to miss out on critical aspects of the user agreement. Sure, companies might only share your data with "selected" business partners, but that list is going to pretty big.
All VPNs Are The Same
This one is simply wrong. It's like saying a Dodge Caravan and a Lexus LFA the same because they are vehicles. No, all VPN services are not the same.
The broadest distinction which can be made in this area is between paid and free VPNs. Further, they can be distinguished by the protocols they use, the number of servers they offer, the type of encryption they provide etc. These things contribute immensely to making your VPN secure and worth the money you spend on it.
Tor Works Just As Well As A VPN
A lot of people may not know this, but Tor began as a US government-funded project. Much later it developed into Tor as we know it.
While it has its uses, Tor is not the same as a VPN. Tor is a step below VPN in terms of privacy. Plus the US government funded Tor-breaking research at Carnegie Mellon. Understandably a sizeable number of people have called Tor’s privacy into question.
The biggest difference is that a VPN will create an encrypted tunnel for your data before routing it through remote servers. In contrast, Tor will only bounce your connect off remote servers.
Online privacy is everyone’s right just like real life privacy. However, you need to know how to get it and keep it. If you think VPNs are completely fool-proof, you’re wrong.
If you want to protect your house, you may install barriers and heavy locks but if you forget to simply lock up when you leave, there’s no point in having all those security preparations. Similarly, if you use a VPN and Tor but make simple human errors, your anonymity will be compromised.
Be sure to choose the right VPN and use it in the right way to ensure protection.