VPNs and Privacy: The First and Foremost Task
Until they started being used to bypass blocks and restrictions, VPNs have been all about privacy. Nowadays, privacy is taking more of a back seat to speed and the ability to tap into a wide number of geographically-dispersed servers, but it’s still a core feature we can’t forget.
Indeed, there are some VPN providers who take privacy and security to the utmost extreme, placing their main servers in fortress-like settings impregnable to unwanted physical access! That’s cool and all, but in the end it’s the connections that really matter. So what makes a VPN service secure?
Opaque and Uncrackable
The least a VPN could do is to encrypt your connection with industry-level encryption methods — and by “industry-level”, we mean the type of connection used by high-level commercial entities like banks. Anything less can be susceptible to the myriad of cyber threats floating around nowadays.
A no-logging policy is also very important — a VPN can only be as private as the tabs it keeps on its customers. Even if such logs were stored in a secure place, it takes just a piece of paper (a subpoena from the government!) to get them to release such logs. In our reviews, we look not just at the privacy statements and log policies of services, but also at their reputation as non-logging VPNs. Sadly, a few services lie about their logging practices, and we point these out where we encounter them. We also put plus points for VPN companies headquartered in places far away from the prying 14 Eyes and other anti-privacy legislation!
Of course, your VPN protection needs to be thorough. Think of VPNs as a massive hose that channels water (your connection) from one place to another. This connection is opaque, meaning when you encounter the hose, you’re not supposed to be able to see the water sloshing around inside, and neither should you see where either ends are. It’s possible, however, that the hose has leaks either (or both) from the source and the destination, and this can be compromising. Such leaks can reveal to an unwelcome onlooker your IP address and the name of the server you’re trying to access, even if they can’t see what’s going on between. Unfortunately, some VPNs cannot protect adequately from these leaks, and we point them out when present in our reviews.
While you're at it, we have a complete guide on catching and fixing VPN leaks right here! You can run the tests yourself to make sure your VPN is worth what you're paying for it.
What does your payment say about you?
There’s also the matter of VPNs keeping your personal information upon signup. While most VPNs accept credit card and PayPal payments upon subscription, these payment methods can reveal some personally identifiable information about you. For complete privacy, you might want to check out VPN companies that accept other payment means like Bitcoin.
If you are using a VPN service that has all of these privacy features (and more) then you’re on a roll! Now all you need to do is to improve your browsing habits, to be truly invisible and invincible online.