VPNs have become incredibly popular over the past few years, and it’s not hard to see why. With an ever-growing number of tech-savvy hackers and numerous companies looking to gather data about us, our online presence is becoming more and more vulnerable. As a result, many are turning to VPNs. Naturally, this is where many questions and dilemmas about this technology arise. For example, is using a VPN safe? Are VPNs legal or illegal? Keep on reading as we’ll dive deeper into these topics.
Before we jump into answering common questions regarding the safety of VPN applications, let’s tell you what to expect. First of all, we’ll introduce you to the way VPNs work. By understanding the technology that powers them, you’ll be able to make a conclusion regarding the safety of VPNs. And of course, we’ll answer a bunch of frequently asked questions, and even recommend some VPNs that we’ve reviewed so far.
What Are The Most Secure VPNs in 2019?
We understand that some of you need a list of the most secure VPNs right now. So, before we jump deeper into understanding the VPN technology and everything that it brings, let’s give you some on-point recommendations. Here are the 5 most secure VPNs in 2019.
The first option on our list, ExpressVPN, is a high-quality service that aims to cater to your individual needs. With dedicated, quality desktop apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, plus mobile apps for iOS, Android and even BlackBerry, the service is user-friendly and comes with plenty of easy-to-follow tutorials.
The performance levels are strong, and you’ll get to use ExpressVPN on up to five devices at the same time. Also, this is a VPN provider with great customer support that will feel very comfortable for inexperienced users. Find out more in our ExpressVPN review.
This is undoubtedly one of the best VPN providers available today, with numerous servers across the world, including certain unique and especially secure servers that will truly ensure your anonymity online.
NordVPN can simultaneously support up to six of your devices and has an automatic kill switch for extra protection. It also blocks ads and other Web threats, and has decent performance speeds, particularly with ‘shorter’ connections. It may not be the cheapest provider, but it is certainly worth the expense for users who take their privacy seriously. Read our NordVPN review for more info.
A VPN provider that caters more to experienced users than it does to newcomers, IPVanish has notable features and very fast performance.
With hundreds of servers worldwide and unlimited data usage, this is a powerful provider that is all about performance quality. The user interface can be a bit tricky to navigate, but what it lacks in aesthetics it more than makes up for with special extras such as a no-log policy and allows torrenting. If you need additional information, here’s our IPVanish review.
This VPN provider values performance above all else and has one of the fastest performance speeds available. This is further enhanced by the number of servers they have across the world and the user-friendly interface that translates well across both desktop and mobile platforms.
For more serious users, there are add-on features available for purchase, such as a NAT Firewall and a dedicated IP. The service also disconnects your user and payment identities, allowing you to maintain your anonymity better. Make sure to learn more by reading our review of PureVPN.
With over 700 servers across multiple worldwide locations, VyprVPN provides users with a fast and secure service that is designed to be intuitive. There are some really great features, such as auto-connect and a kill switch for added security, which allow users to feel comfortable with their service regardless of their previous experience with VPNs.
VyprVPN offers both a basic plan, which allows up to three devices to be connected and a premium plan, which allows up to five simultaneous connections. Finally, here’s our VyprVPN review where you can learn more details.
How Do VPNs Keep You Protected Online?
You might know that VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, but many Internet users are still unclear on what exactly this means. So, first, let’s talk about the way VPNs keeps you safe online.
Generally, when we connect to the Internet, we ‘ask’ our ISP (Internet Service Provider) to take us to a certain page, and they connect us to that page. Therefore, they also know that we have visited this page, and should anyone ask – such as the government, any law enforcement agencies, or even advertising firms – your ISP would be able to provide them with this data. For those concerned about their privacy, this can be an issue.
A VPN acts as a middleman that protects your privacy in this regard. When you use a VPN, instead of directly ‘asking’ your ISP, you are first asking the VPN in an encrypted request. This request is then decrypted and sent on, connecting you to the website. Because you did not directly request to go there, the website does not know who you are. Your ISP is also kept in the dark due to the encryption used with the VPN. If there’s anyone interested in finding out who accessed certain content online, the VPN would be their only possible source. However, reliable VPN providers are designed specifically to not keep logs of where they are delivering data to, meaning the VPN provider does not know who accessed specific content and is literally unable to reveal any information about you.
As you can guess, we brought you a simplified explanation of what happens in the background when you use a VPN. For a more detailed explanation, we have our dedicated article on how VPNs work – so make sure to check it out.
Is it Legal to Use a VPN?
In general, it could be said that VPNs are 100% legal – in the majority of countries. However, there are always some exceptions. Countries with authoritarian regimes often rely on controlling the flow of information, and this is where VPNs are illegal. We’re talking about countries such as China, Turkey, Iraq, Russia, and several other. Also, it is important to be aware that some countries have laws in place that force VPN providers to turn over their data on users if asked to – this is where it becomes especially important to select a provider that does not store any data on user activity.
Furthermore, using the best VPN available right now is perfectly legal in most countries, but illegal activities undertaken whilst using a VPN are still – naturally – illegal. Because of this, most reputable VPN providers forbid the use of their service for certain activities such as child pornography, fraud, as well as theft, hacking, and spreading viruses.
Can My Internet Service Provider See My VPN?
Although your own ISP now cannot see your activity, the question still remains with regards to the ISP that delivers the Internet to your VPN provider. Without additional features in place to protect you, your online activity would be entirely visible to this ISP. However, quality VPN providers will implement one or more of the following features to keep their customers’ privacy well-protected.
Firstly, by allowing you to anonymously purchase your VPN subscription, and accepting payment methods such as Bitcoin and PayPal, VPN services can avoid being in possession of your name and identity. Secondly, by ensuring that their service does not keep any logs of user activity or data, providers can safeguard customers even when their ISPs attempt to monitor activity.
Finally, certain VPNs also assign the same IP address to multiple users, meaning any activity on that IP address cannot be traced down to any individual user. If you select a provider that implements these safeguards, your activity, and other data will be protected from all ISPs and websites – and you won’t be tracked while using a VPN application.
Can You Be Tracked if You Use a VPN?
First, you should know that VPNs hide your IP address as soon as you connect to a remote server. This means that your ‘real’ IP (the one provided by your Internet Provider) gets replaced by a virtual IP address that belongs to a country where the secure server is located. If anyone tried to read your IP to pinpoint your location, they will only see the information served by your VPN.
Then, there’s encryption. VPNs have all kinds of VPN protocols that ‘scramble’ your Web data so that it becomes unreadable to anyone but you. In theory, even if someone gets to your data, they won’t be able to open the files to decrypt them – which is a process that could take many years and plenty of effort to be done.
So, the answer to the question of whether you can be tracked while using a VPN is – NO. However, there are other ways that someone can still track you, by implanting malware on your system, for example. This is why it’s often recommended to use a reliable anti-virus as well.
Can a VPN be Hacked?
Prolific hackers will tell you that pretty much any technology can be hacked – and this is true, in theory. However, this all comes down to how much effort is required to hack something. This is why VPNs are often recommended as a way to protect yourself against malware and hacking – as they come with incredibly secure technologies.
We have a comprehensive article that answers the question of whether VPNs can be hacked – by inspecting different hacking methods and their ability to dive into your private data. As you’ll see for yourself, you should be safe and protected from hacking in 99.99% of the cases.
Are VPNs Safe for Online Banking?
Banking apps and website already come with a high level of security built-in. However, they can never match the security that you get by using a VPN application, and here’s why.
By encrypting your Web connection and preventing any data leaks, VPNs can create a safe environment for transmitting any confidential information. Also, today’s VPNs often come with a high level of encryption (256-bit AES), which is something that banking apps and services don’t offer. This means that you should be able to safely access your bank’s apps and website from any location, even while using public Wi-Fi networks.
It’s also important to be mentioned that VPNs are a great solution for frequent travelers. Banking websites are often locked to certain regions, preventing access from foreign countries. So, in case you’re somewhere abroad, you can get your country’s IP by using a VPN and easily access any website.
How to Use a VPN Safely?
Every VPN comes designed to secure your private data, the easy way. All it takes to become anonymous online is to connect to a secure server. However, we do have some advice for you on how to use a VPN safely.
- Jurisdiction: Before buying a VPN, make sure to know where it comes from. Ideally, you want a VPN from a country that understands the importance of protecting the privacy and personal information. In other words, you don’t want a VPN that comes from a 14-Eyes Alliance country.
- VPN Protocol & Encryption: VPNs come with all kinds of VPN protocols and different levels of encryption. Right now, we recommend using a VPN that supports the OpenVPN protocol, complemented by AES-256 encryption. This combination should keep you 100% safe online.
- Kill-Switch: A kill-switch is a VPN feature that shuts down your Web connection if you lose a secure connection to a server. This means that if a secure connection drops, your private information won’t leak online.
- Fine-Tuning & Customization: And finally, don’t be afraid to dig into your VPN’s settings. For the best possible protection, choose to run your VPN on system startup. Some VPN’s even come with split-tunneling, allowing you to selectively use a VPN connection for some applications.
Are Free VPNs Safe to Use?
And finally, let’s not forget about VPNs that offer their services free of charge. We’ll immediately get to the point here – and we’ll tell you that you need to avoid free VPNs at all costs.
Free VPNs don’t bring the same level of security as premium options do. They come with bandwidth limitations and data caps, and they can’t be used to unblock websites. And what’s even more worrying, many of those VPNs collect your private data and track you via advertisement trackers. Of course, there are numerous additional reasons why free VPNs aren’t safe.
So, is using a VPN safe? You can bet it is! So, in the end, make sure to share this article online in case you found it to be helpful. And also, make sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook as well. Thanks!