Most Virtual Private Network (VPN) service providers take online security and privacy very seriously. It is a must since their service itself is focused on providing online security in the least. That is why most of these VPN service providers have a strict security policy. This security policy includes not keeping logs of user activities, IP addresses, and other important information of its users.
That is why a recent survey looked into these VPNs and their policies regarding online security and how well they keep up with it. The study involved over 100 VPNs that are rather common names among users. From the study, it was discovered that over 26 out of these 100 VPN services are keeping and collecting information from their users. Some of the information that they are keeping includes IP address, real-location, bandwidth data, and even connection timestamps.
The threats to online privacy continue to increase over the years. And with Google’s and Facebook’s power to get your information and track your activities, it is really hard to be anonymous on the Web today.
That is why the demand for VPNs is getting bigger and bigger each year and it is expected to rise further in 2019. The demand cost will approximately reach over $70 million.
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Agencies Tracking Your Moves
Among the more common names of VPNs that have been known to keep logs of your activities include BufferedVPN, HolaVPN, HotspotShield, AnonVPN, AceVPN, and VPNGate. However, their security policies state otherwise.
According to their security policy, they monitor user activity but they are not keeping any logs with it. Thus, they don’t have any record of their user activities.
However, this was proven to be false with one HongKong based provider. This is after Ryan Lin, a 24-year-old who was arrested by FBI agents after his logs were disclosed by a Hongkong based VPN Provider.
Ryan Lin may not be a good guy, however, the fact that VPN service providers can give out information to agencies or organizations (no matter what the reason is) is quite worrisome. It is clearly a contradiction to their security policy.
What are security policies for if they are not true?
The above-mentioned VPN providers are still standing on their security policies of not keeping any logs, based on the investigation of a report by VPNOverview. They keep logs of their users’ activity and personal information (phone number, email address etc.) They also keep IP addresses, bandwidth data, and timestamps.
Sadly, a HongKong based provider is not the only one doing it. Other well-known VPNs like Hotspot Shield and HolaVPN are allegedly collecting data from their users.
What we can learn from this is that not all VPNs are the same. Not all of them are true to their words or even security policies. So before you pick a VPN it is good to take time in deciding and study their features and security policies. It is also important to check if the VPN has had any bad records of either selling user information or even keeping it to themselves as user logs. And how would you find that out while selecting a VPN? Well, this article will certainly be helpful at the decisive moment.
Things to Check Before Purchasing a VPN
With many VPNs in the market today, it is hard to pick the right one that will provide the online security we are looking for. To help you decide, here are some of the things you should check before purchasing it.
Their Security Policy
All VPNs have security policies. Make sure to review them before subscribing to their services. Ensure that they are not keeping logs, data or whatsoever that’s personally yours. You can double check it in a number of ways. One way is to search for news reports about them breaking their own security policy.
Outsource to Third-Party Providers
There are millions of customers looking for VPNs. That is why most VPN service providers serve hundreds or even thousands of customers. In order to cater to this large number of clients, they sometimes need the help of third-party data centers. Check if the VPN service provider is partnering with a trusted data center that has good security history and background. Some VPNs do not even outsource their servers; they have their own, which is the best you could look for. Such top VPNs are NordVPN, ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access (PIA), IPVanish and VyprVPN.
The scope of some VPN service providers is large. Some of them are not only limited to one country but are serving many locations around the globe. Some even tend to provide virtual locations or create fake ones. This could however be harmful for the users as this could lead to DNS Leaks. Big names in the industry make sure that this issue is handled with care with strong servers.
Peer to Peer Sharing
It is also good to know if the VPN service provider is allowing a peer to peer sharing or web traffic from file sharing sites like BitTorrent. Most VPNs allow this. NordVPN, for example, allows web traffic on file sharing sites.
The most common payment method VPNs use is PayPal. Some of them also accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. So if you want full anonymity on your transaction, they recommend using cryptocurrency.
Depending on your choice of payment, it is still good to know if the VPN service provider is not keeping your sensitive financial information by following the right and commonly used payment methods.
Hope these tips will help you find the right VPN. Just keep in mind that a VPN can give you the online security you need. It is also advisable to delete cookies every time you are done surfing the Internet to protect your data yourself too.