In online dating, a certain level of anonymity is crucial - it’s important that you be able to control which parts of your personal information the other users have access to, and that you and only you choose which connections you pursue. Using a virtual private network, or VPN, allows you to be able to specify exactly to whom and to what degree your personal information is available. A VPN also creates a workaround for any mandated internet content restrictions that may block your access to certain sites, dating sites included. In this article, we tackle the challenge of finding the best VPN to use when you’re trying to find the best partner for you.
Why Use A VPN?
The two major reasons for using a VPN when using dating sites are to keep your personal information personal and to circumvent geographically-based content restrictions.
Safeguarding Private Information
Dating sites require you to input information that you wouldn’t share with just anyone. This information can potentially expose your identity, location and contact details to someone you may not wish to connect with. Your personal details can direct users with ulterior motives to your other social media accounts, such as your Instagram or your Facebook profile, leaving your entire identity and social connections exposed.
The level of security of the information you enter into a dating site is at the mercy of the security standards of the site. A shining example of this exact issue is illuminated in the 2015 hacking of Ashley Madison, a dating website designed to facilitate extramarital affairs. In July of 2015, a group of hackers copied personal user data and threatened to release the users’ names and personal information unless Ashley Madison shut the site down. The site did not comply and as a result, in August 2015, over 60 GB of confirmed and valid real names, addresses, search history and financial transactions were leaked to a Dark Web site accessible through the Tor network. This information was only available because Ashley Madison, much like many other dating sites of its kind, has a policy of keeping the personal information of its users and not taking the proper security precautions to protect their databases.
Accessing a site through a VPN puts your information into stealth mode, hiding your IP address and location and encrypting all your personal data. It also keeps the dating site from using your information for marketing, so you’ll see less pop-ups advertising related media when you’re on your other social media accounts.
Accessing Blocked Sites
Countries may block dating sites for various religious and financial reasons. China and India block many Western sites to maintain surveillance over their citizens’ activities. This is also an attempt to keep them from spending their money - as many sites require payment for certain premium services - outside their own country. Many devout Islamic countries geo-restrict sites because they are considered to be “immoral”. Companies and schools have also been known to block certain social media sites in order to minimize employee and student distraction. Masking your IP and setting your location to an approved country via a VPN restores access.
Considerations: Choosing the Right VPN
The following features are the mark of a great VPN service:
- Zero traffic logging - The servers provided don’t store a log of your online activities.
- Stellar data encryption - Encryption protocols come in different standards, the highest available standard being 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standards). Aim for that.
- No bandwidth limitations - The greater the available bandwidth, the faster your page load times.
- Compatibility - service should be compatible with several devices (ie: laptop, phone and/or tablet) and across operating systems (ie: iOS, Android, etc.)
- Plentiful server options - there should be a vast array of servers available in a vast array of countries so that you can connect from anywhere, at any time, to any place.
There are several free VPN services on the market, but they’re free for a reason. The way that free VPNs make money is at best, using ads in their product to generate revenue. Ads will always have bandwidth priority over your browsing session, slowing page load times and making previously unreachable sites cumbersome to use. At worst, they track and sell your personal data. When you route your encrypted data through the VPN servers, your usage can’t be tracked by your ISP (Internet Service Provider), but your VPN can. They then can sell your information to marketers for profit. A paid service is ultimately your best and safest choice, and the good news is that even though they’re not free, they’re all relatively inexpensive.
Some great options include:
Has servers in 90+ countries, highest available standards of encryption. Rated highest for speed, 24/7 customer support and compatibility - you can use it on any device, on every major operating system. Offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Servers currently in 40+ countries. Rated very highly for speed and also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. Offers Live Chat Support and connects to up to 5 devices simultaneously.
Servers in 60+ countries. Comes highly recommended from several well-known, reputable tech publications. No traffic logging, highly compatible and allows 5 simultaneous connections to a wide array of devices. Comes with a 7-day money-back guarantee.
Servers in 70+ countries. Rated highly by several reputable publications. Located in Switzerland but US owned. Operates without any third parties, no download restrictions, and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. Offers 24/7 Live Chat Support and allows you to connect to up to 5 devices.
In closing, I present to you a delightful platitude of my own design, for your cringing pleasure: Love is all about taking chances, but when it comes to cybersecurity...better not.