VPN is a wonderful tool. A banal request in Google will tell you about the mass of its capabilities – traffic encryption, access to blocked content and the ability to maintain privacy by hiding your IP address.
However, there are few articles on the web about what a VPN cannot do. Of course, it does not have any fundamental shortcomings, but when it comes to privacy and security on the Internet, an exhaustive understanding is needed.
Let’s face it, the last thing you want to do is pay for a VPN service, download and install it on your device, and find that it doesn’t work the way you expected.
Well, we have put some small articles here to tell you in detail what a VPN can’t do.
Some people believe that a VPN does just that. In any case, considering how a VPN works and what malware is, it becomes obvious that this is simply impossible. And that’s why:
- Malware is virus software that is used by cyber criminals to infect various devices. Ultimately, it is designed to interact with the software, hardware components, or files (outdated applications, processor, or important documents) on your device, not your Internet connection.
- A VPN encrypts your network connection and hides your IP address. In general, when a VPN client connects to a VPN server, all traffic passing through them will be encrypted (so no one can intercept it).
See what’s the problem?
A VPN is simply not designed to keep your device secure.
What you need is antivirus software. It scans the device for anything that could be dangerous, scans all running programs and all program code that interacts with the device’s processor for anything that looks like a virus. If something similar is found, then it is isolated or removed.
What about VPN services with malware protection?
Some services claim to be able to provide this. CASVPN, for example, says on their website that they can provide protection against malware. They even claim that they can protect your device from viruses.
At first glance, this may seem unreliable. And some of these services are really not trustworthy. CASVPN is also one of them. They do not give an understanding of how exactly they implement such functionality, but simply declare that it is.
In any case, the reality is slightly different. Considering user reviews about VPN services that provide “malware protection", it consists in compiling a blacklist of malicious sites, which is initially built into the firewall, and blocks access to them. Some advanced services can even block virus scripts and extensions on websites.
Here are the services that officially include such functionality:
Of course, each service works differently, but the main way to protect against malware is to block hidden sources of viruses.
Sounds good enough, but a VPN with this kind of malware protection won’t save you from it. Of course, it can prevent malware infection while online, but if your device is already infected, then it will not be able to help you.
“Anonymity on the web”, “Become anonymous on the web”, “Browse websites anonymously”. You can see such statements about VPNs on the advertising pages of many VPN services.
Well, we are sorry to disappoint you, but such statements are not true.
Sure, a VPN can give you privacy, but complete anonymity? This is quite a big exaggeration. When you use a tool like this, you don’t become completely anonymous as if by magic. And that’s why:
Your ISP still knows who you are
Your ISP sees that you are using a VPN. He also knows your real IP (he assigned it to you) and he still has your personal and payment information as long as you remain his client.
The government can intercept VPN traffic
We are referring to extraordinary situations, such as Kazakhstan, where government authorities intercept and decrypt user traffic, or China, where only certain state-approved VPN services (also known as VPN services that transmit user data to government authorities) are legal.
Social media doesn’t help
Of course, a VPN will encrypt the traffic you send and receive from social networks. It will also prevent them from associating network usage with your real IP address.
In any case, a VPN will not encrypt your photos and other information that you post on social networks. People will still see it unless you make your profile private.
Everyone knows that websites store IP addresses. And a VPN is a great way to hide that kind of information. But beyond that, websites use browser authentication to obtain even more valuable data:
- What browser are you using and its version
- Your operating system and version
- Screen resolution
- Time zone, installed language and activated plugins of your device
All this data sounds pretty impersonal, but according to EFF, the chance that another person’s browser information will match is extremely small. In fact, only one in 286,777 browsers will have the same ID.
And a VPN cannot hide this information.
VPN does not make online payments anonymous
True, a VPN protects your traffic when you make online payments, but it doesn’t keep your purchases private.
Let’s say you’re using a VPN to buy something on Amazon with your bank card. But it won’t prevent Amazon from linking your bank card to your user profile. This will only allow you to be sure that the data of your bank card that you exchange between the device and the VPN server is encrypted.
And the details of your purchases through a bank card are not private. This data ends up in the hands of marketers, hedge funds, and media/tech giants.
Mobile operators can track your location
Even using a VPN that hides your location by masking your IP address will not prevent mobile operators from identifying it.
Like your ISP, they still know your real IP, and they may use additional surveillance methods (like monitoring cell signal).
The only anonymity you can expect with a VPN is the anonymity of the data you exchange between the VPN client on your device and the VPN server, as it is encrypted. This is end-to-end encryption, after which no one can intercept it. Assuming you are using a VPN with zero logs. It is also useful when using cryptocurrency payments, ad blockers and DLP leak prevention technology.
Some other things that increase your privacy when using a VPN include:
- Using the Virtual Machine to hide information about your device
- Using privacy extensions such as uMatrix, uBlock Origin, NoScript, and/or Disconnect.
- Running a VPN along with an incognito tab
- Using the TOR Browser to make your ID the same as all other TOR users
- Mandatory use of antivirus
Here are some more useful tips if you want to achieve a certain level of anonymity.
Some will say that if you want to achieve complete online anonymity, it’s best not to be online at all these days. But even this does not give a complete guarantee that no one will upload your personal information to the network (for example, create a fake page with your name on social networks).
Since cookies are small text files that are stored on your device, by and large, VPN cannot do anything with them.
Of course, a VPN acts as an intermediary between you and the network, as it intercepts your requests, encrypts them, and redirects them to its server, and then sends the requested data back to you.
But what a VPN doesn’t do is intercept and store cookies on its servers instead of your device. He is not made for this.
In fact, sometimes cookies can interfere with your VPN because they allow websites to see your real location despite the fact that you are using different IP addresses.
To maintain privacy, the best thing you can do is clear your cookies before and after your VPN session, or use your browser in incognito mode when using a VPN.
Or just use a secure browser. Brave, for example, will block cookies from third parties as standard.
A VPN can help you bypass government censorship on the web. It will allow you to access blocked sites and hide your traffic.
Therefore, many people think that a VPN is a good solution in case of an Internet outage. Such shutdowns happen often enough in authoritarian countries to quell any possible opposition.
And that’s why this is not entirely true – for the VPN to work, you need an Internet connection. When you connect to a VPN server, you are not bypassing your ISP. On the contrary, through it you connect to the VPN server. Therefore, regardless of the situation, you need your provider first.
To put this more clearly, just think of a VPN as a machine. And using a VPN while the Internet is out will be the same as trying to drive a car without wheels.
For some reason, a lot of people think that using a VPN automatically increases network speed.
Well, that’s simply not true.
A VPN can only hide your IP address and encrypt your traffic. When it forwards your connection through its server, it doesn’t do anything fancy or fancy to speed up your connection.
In fact, a VPN can only slow down the speed. If you are using a server that is too far away (on another continent), the VPN protocol is very resource intensive (like OpenVPN ), and instead of using a wired connection, you are using a WiFi connection, you will surely experience a drop in speed.
And if your ISP has a slow speed, there’s nothing a VPN can do to improve that. The only way to correct the situation is to change the tariff plan or change the provider.
However, there are two exceptions:
When your ISP limits your bandwidth
This occurs when your ISP intentionally limits your connection’s bandwidth to prevent network congestion. This is significantly cheaper than buying new servers with more bandwidth, or in this way it “encourages” people to choose a more expensive plan.
So, a VPN encrypts your traffic, making it very difficult for your ISP to spy on you. Also, the provider will only see the IP address of the VPN server you are using. It will not be able to see the addresses of the sites you visit.
When your ISP is bad at routing your traffic
Maybe your ISP has a bad infrastructure or bad intermediaries and they are redirecting your traffic through their project management roadmap. This is the reason why your data can be routed through different countries, losing speed along the way.
So, if you are using a VPN, there is a chance (very small, but keep this in mind) that your traffic will take a more optimal path and the speed will be higher.
Bypass working firewalls
Usually, VPNs can bypass company firewalls. It can provide you with a new IP address that is not bound by firewall restrictions and will encrypt your traffic to prevent administrators from snooping on you.
But (and this is a big BUT), your work environment may not include the use of a VPN if the company employs experienced IT professionals and if appropriate measures are taken. How exactly:
- For starters, if they monitor all connections completely, then they can tell if you are using a VPN client. They will see your connection to the IP address without the DNS extension. It’s easy enough to figure out that this is a VPN server – especially if you’re using port 443.
- If you have remote administration software installed on your device, then the IT team can connect to your computer and look at your screen without your knowledge, catch you in a hot moment when you visit blocked websites.
- If they issue to employees regular devices with pre-installed protection against the installation of third-party programs or extensions (such as a VPN client or other extensions).
In situations like this, a VPN won’t help you bypass the firewall.
Can you use a VPN for online banking or torrent downloads?
The short answer is yes, without a doubt. A lot of people use VPNs for just that.
But here’s why you might have heard some people say that a VPN isn’t good for this:
Sometimes VPN traffic, as such, can be blocked by banks. For example, Bank of America does not allow VPN traffic. And some other banks may block your traffic as suspicious because you are connecting with a hidden IP address.
This does not mean that a VPN is not suitable for online banking. It is necessary because it encrypts your traffic. And most banks don’t have this problem.
If it happens that your bank does not allow you to use a VPN, then talk to the bank managers about it. If they don’t do anything, then try another bank. It is troublesome, but as safe as possible. In addition, your bank may revise its policy regarding this, realizing that it is losing its client.
Some VPN clients do not allow P2P traffic on their servers. Maybe they don’t want to deal with DMCA notices and threatening letters from lawyers, or maybe torrent downloads are illegal in the country where their servers are located.
But many VPN clients provide separate P2P servers, so they are great for torrent downloads. And they don’t keep logs to make sure they don’t mind such laws.
Is it worth it to keep using a VPN, knowing what it doesn’t do?
Of course yes.
Anything a VPN doesn’t do is considered a flaw based on misinformation or in light of specific scenarios (like blocking the internet or specific corporate policies). Take them out of the equation and you get a very decent service.
In a nutshell, a VPN will prevent bandwidth throttling, prevent potential DDoS attacks, encrypt your data (even on insecure websites), bypass geo-restrictions and firewalls, make torrenting more secure, and hide your digital footprint (hiding your IP address).
Use it with other Security Solutions (antivirus, script blockers, password managers) and you will get an excellent level of security for your data on the Internet.
A VPN is a wonderful tool, but many people have high expectations for it. Despite the huge number of advantages that it has, there are some things a VPN cannot do. He’s just not made for it.
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Sourced from TechNadu .