Security is the main reason why people want a VPN, so if their VPN software provider isn’t secure, it’s defeating the whole purpose. But how do you know if a VPN provider is secure? It’s not as easy as looking at some reviews, although that definitely helps narrow your options down. Instead, you have to do a little research to find the answers to the following questions. The companies’ answers should help you make your final decision.
Does the VPN Provider Have Strong Security Protocols?
At a minimum, a VPN provider should encrypt all data that flows through its servers, but some encryption protocols are stronger than others. As such, check the protocol that your VPN provider is using to shuttle your data to the server. OpenVPN is generally considered a top choice, but there are others that have both solid encryptions and are open source so that there are no backdoors for bad actors to exploit. Other protocols that are acceptable include SSTP, L2TP, and IKEv2, but if a VPN provider only uses PPTP, move on to another option.
You can usually locate a VPN provider’s security practices on their website, but you might have to dig a bit for the details. Look for a “Technical Details” or “Features” page or heading to get an overview of their security practices. If the protocols aren’t listed there, check the “Help,” “Support,” or “FAQ” sections for the information. A VPN provider that makes its security protocols too hard to find is probably trying to hide something. Take it for the red flag that it is.
Does the VPN Provider Record Your Data?
You probably aren’t going to find a VPN provider that promises not to record any of your data. Most providers keep logs of session times, connection dates, and connection times. Some will even keep track of IP addresses. The session times and connection data aren’t too invasive, but steer clear of VPNs that track IP addresses. That is a little too much for most people who are using VPNs to protect themselves.
No matter what, do not select a VPN that keeps an activity log of the sites you’ve visited, the files you’ve downloaded, and the software you’ve used, among other actions. VPN providers do not need this data for anything except marketing, which is something you probably don’t want. Free and low-cost VPN providers often subsidize their cheap services by selling your data to marketers. Be willing to spend a little more for additional privacy and security.
Does the VPN Provider Use Private DNS Servers?
A DNS server is essentially a giant digital phone book that takes your encrypted requests and sends you to the site you’re looking for. Secure VPNs use their own private DNS servers so that no one can detect what requests you’re making (i.e. the sites you’re visiting). If they don’t have private DNS servers, they will just send your requests to your default DNS server, which is usually the one owned by your ISP. This completely defeats the purpose of having a VPN.
Making the decision to use a VPN is a great choice because it will keep you safer and more private while you surf the Internet. But, if you aren’t careful, you might just be paying for a VPN that doesn’t really keep your data secure. Using these tips will ensure you make a secure choice for your VPN provider.
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