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Do VPNs Breach Privacy – Reality or Myth?

Do VPNs Breach Privacy – Reality or Myth?
Mar 16, 2022
Punch line: VPNs are meant to protect data – but the million-dollar question is can we trust them?
Eda Guzelyol
Personal Information
Do VPNs Breach Privacy – Reality or Myth? - FastVPN
Punch line: VPNs are meant to protect data – but the million-dollar question is can we trust them?
Every time you use the internet or simply browse your social media feed, you trail behind detectable digital traces. The traces could be the personal credentials or all of your online activities.
Data companies sell these, mostly anonymous, footprints to extend their sales as well as bring more convenience to the customer.
Nevertheless, there is a flip side of this data acquisition story too; hackers also try to waylay the data packets to steal identity or threaten your privacy.
According to the recent report of the Cybersecurity Center at the University of Minnesota, “identity theft cases have been increasing by 17% annually”.
Most of the security-conscious users switch to some sure-fire methods like subscribing to a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service. VPNs encrypt and anonymize your data by masking the IP addresses.
A massive data breach incurred by LimeVPN threw the spanner into this so-called security zone.
More than 70,000 users’ data was compromised. In the worst-case scenario, some dishonest VPN services deliberately sell sensitive and unfiltered user information to commercial enterprises.
It means that subscribing to a VPN is not without its hazards, there are indeed some associated risks.
Nonetheless, internet users cannot take a free ride without any protective cover. This conundrum is just like perching between the devil and the deep blue sea.
So, are VPNs safe or themselves a danger? Let’s elaborate!
We are figuring out this riddle after analyzing several patterns. At the end of the blog, you will be all set to determine the answer yourself.

How do VPNs maintain your privacy?


The main privacy tool of VPNs like Fast VPN is encryption. They make your personal information anonymous and private for snoopers. VPN protocols regulate the quantum of encryption and flow of information through an encrypted virtual tunnel.
This all work is done behind the curtains, there are very few VPNs that allow users to sneak into its working mechanism. OpenVPN is an exception in this regard. This open-source software allows everyone to check if the code is working in the right direction.

No-logs Policy

VPNs also secure customer privacy by extending no-logs privacy. This effective way guarantees that the VPN provider is not storing your personal information. Having said that, some logs are inevitable, they could be restricted to minimal levels like the number of users availing the service.
Experts believe that the logging policy is itself invasive. It readily collects the DNS requests, URLs, browsing history, and metadata.

Anonymous Payments

VPN secures the payment regimen by tricking the system. It assigns a single IP address to multiple users that are originating from different remote locations. This virtual meandering makes it next to impossible to detect the traces. Without a VPN, it is extremely difficult to execute anonymous payments.
The users either have to resort to virtual currency options like Bitcoin or platforms which require minimum information like PayPal or Mullvad.

Do VPNs share your data?

Quick Answer: Generally they can, but you can still prevent them from sharing by sticking to the following prevention.

Subscribe to a No-log Service

If you want to remain super secure then always go for the VPN services offering no-logs like Fast VPN . This is the best bet for preventing the service from sharing your data with their parties. This caution does wonder during criminal investigations too.
The digital footprints are always protected from authorities as the VPN company cannot share information that does not exist.

Paid Service

As a general rule, paid services are always better than free ones. There are no free lunches in the virtual world. Free VPNs have their very own ways of generating revenue. Usually, they use advertisements that in turn sneakily pick up their required information.
Free VPNs, more than often, kill the very purpose of subscribing to a VPN service. These are not what promise you a secure vibe.

Can VPNs be hacked?

Yes, they can and are. Alone in 2021, there were thousands of malware attacks on the VPN services, hundreds of them went north. To quote, of late cybercriminals have managed to penetrate the entry points of Pulse Secure VPN and executed a streak of malicious codes. The macabre facts only came into the limelight after a detailed forensic investigation.
Another no-logs VPN service named LimeVPN was also mauled by the hackers. The black hat pack stole the sensitive information of around 70,000 users and sold the data brazenly on RaidForums.
In the same vein, a bunch of reputable android apps like Chat VPN, Super VPN, and Gecko VPN has severely been compromised, exposing the raw data of over 20 million users.  It is worth mentioning that Super VPN has suffered two back-to-back cyberattacks; unfortunately, both remained successful.

Are VPNs legal?

Barring some exceptional rogue states, VPN services are legal throughout the world. Governments, enterprises, and individuals use VPNs to secure their connections as well as day-to-day digital activities.
VPN itself is legal, but illegal activities carried out by taking leverage of VPN are not allowed. For example, if one uses VPN for torrenting to conceal copyright infringements, she will have to go through criminal proceedings in case she gets caught.
Moreover, for streaming, the rules of the game are changed. Netflix explicitly declares not allowing any use of VPN or proxy. Although, doing so does not make a criminal case against you. In the worst case, you will either have to simply disable the software or your account might be suspended.
Of late, there are around six countries that either tightly regulate or outrightly ban the usage of VPN. These countries are Iran, The UAE, China, Russia, North Korea, and Turkey.

The risks of availing of free VPN services

Besotted by a myriad of issues like slowdowns, streaming problems, and on-the-way kill; the major risk associated with free VPN services is a security breach. Research recently pointed out that 70% of the free VPN services gave at least a single third-party tracking library.
Free VPN services extend their own set of compulsions like lack of revenues which are vital for running virtual servers worldwide. They in turn succumb to advertising companies, as well as to their undue demands. Some of the advertising agencies are bold enough to pick the required information without advancing formal permission. The only collateral damage here is the customer whose information is sold on the dark web without consent.
A better idea is to enjoy the free ride from a paid service. Many VPNs offer free risk trials. Although you need to pay a fee upfront, the same can be refunded within the given time.

Who owns VPN services?

After going through the encryption protocols, privacy, and logging factors, there is an intriguing element left. Who owns the parent company providing you with VPN service?
This area is marred with controversies. A VPN research states that there is the hegemony of around 24 companies that operate 104 VPN services available in the market. If the ownership changes, this is again a sham exercise at best. The ownership of the VPN just rotates around some familiar handlers. The example of IPVanish is relevant here. VPN services put their defense that acquiring or selling shares is not a crime, but the lack of transparency is a real issue at hand. It also portends some vested interests of the selected chair leaders.

Global jurisdiction of VPN services

Another potential security problem with the VPN is the lack of global jurisdiction. The jurisdiction varies from nation to nation. Some states have strict laws like Russia, China, or even the US. There are some territories where the VPN companies have to hand over the solicited data under specific investigations. Noncompliance results in punitive actions against data companies.
The situation gets a bit too complicated when the real owner of the VPN company exists in some other territory. US-based PureVPN is operated by a Pakistan-based security firm Gaditek. Pakistan is a country that does not possess a good track record against cybercrime laws. Civil society organizations often air their concerns about government-level meddling.
Moreover, the 2013 Edward Snowden leaks revealed the dirty nexus of information-sharing intelligence networks such as Five Eyes Alliance (The UK, The US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia). Following its footsteps more and more alliances are being formed like Nine Eyes and Fourteen Eyes Alliances. These ever-growing alliances are posing existential threats to VPN companies.
The only caution that can be taken is to pick a VPN that is out of these alliances’ ambit. Nonetheless, the identification is an uphill task on its own. Some of the privacy havens are Panama, Malaysia, The Cayman Islands, Seychelles, and the British Virgin Islands.

Can you trust your VPN Service Provider?

You should but with a pinch of caution. The history of VPN is laden with vulnerabilities and malicious plays. VPN services can be dishonest sometimes. A recent example is Kape Technologies which changed its name to Crossrider after being infected with malware. In 2021, the same company snatched the coveted top-ranked award, cunningly shedding its shadowy past.

What is the prospect?

The confusion is in the air. Sometimes, it may seem like a clarion call of doom and gloom, but there is still a silver lining. Some big names of the VPN world are responding vehemently to vulnerabilities. They are valiantly defending their cause and reputation.
Service providers like ProtonVPN, Nord, or Express are investing in out-of-box solutions to offer more reliable, convenient, and secure services. Some of the recent ostensible reforms are shedding their less secure protocols, frequent security audits, security compliance, transparency over policies, and positively overhauling the overall infrastructure.
Another forward leap is moving on to open-sourced apps. ProtonVPN, AirVPN, and Mullvad have recently jumped onto the bandwagon. The open-source system allows general users to analyze the code. They can check the proceedings in real-time. Moreover, some VPN services are incrementally upgrading their infrastructure like ExpressVPN which does not offer any open-source app but releases its encryption protocol operating under an open-source license.

Some steps to Beef up your VPN security

It takes two to tango, the user should not place all its eggs into the VPN bucket. Some individual steps can beef up the VPN security magically.
  • Use a Tor browser along with the VPN service. Tor browser is believed to be a bit too slow, but it improves the anonymity score manifold.
  • Changing passwords frequently is a nice precaution. Adopt it as a habit.
  • Remember to clear up your digital footprints regularly. When you are using smartphones, make sure to turn off the location services as well as the app’s permissions.
  • Cookies have the potential of gathering private information, you should never grant the permission offhand.
  • Subscribe to paid VPN services and keep taking the feedback from the provider. Don’t work in a bubble. Isolation is fatal.
  • Keep your all senses intact while browsing the internet, especially when using sensitive services like banking. In case of sensing any anomaly, do reach out to the kill switch in the first place.
  • Select the virtual servers which are based in liberal and progressive countries rather than rogue regimes. Avoid Middle Eastern, Chinese, and Russian terrains.

Final Words

After all the long details, we again came into square one. Let’s repeat the question; do VPNs breach privacy – Myth or reality?
It’s a reality, but it can readily be converted into a myth by a mix of proactive approach and prudent analysis. You will have to select the VPN service after due consideration as well as after keeping all the above-mentioned points in mind. Then, you can declare your connection somewhat secure.
Our Fast VPN is top notch because we offer encryption, security and functionality. We also have a myraid of possibilities for our valued customers. Subscribe today and get the security you deserve.
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