Since the United States National Security Agency (NSA) spying scandal broke out at the hands of former analyst Edward Snowden, many people have learned about tools and strategies to keep their data safe on the Internet. In this scenario, the popularity of VPNs, virtual private networks, has skyrocketed and practically everyone knows a little about this technology.
Basically, VPNs work by connecting a computer to an intermediary server, which will be responsible for encrypting and bridging the gap between the user and the Internet. In this way, it is possible to surf safely, circumvent some geographical restrictions imposed by services such as Spotify, Hulu and Pandora and even remain anonymous.
The problem is that this feeling of security has caused several myths to arise around VPNs, which eventually undermines the benefits of the service and confuses those who are looking for a quality provider.
In today’s article, we’ll discuss the top five myths surrounding VPNs and why you shouldn’t believe them.
1. VPNs are only used by those who do something illegal online
Perhaps this is the most common myth about VPNs since the technology was invented decades ago. Since the service “unblocks” specific services, which generally restrict access based on the user’s geolocation, many associate it with illegal acts and which can lead to legal problems.
It is true, these networks can help in this type of activity, but their main purpose is not and never was this. In reality, the main purpose of VPNs is to keep users safe online by establishing an encrypted communication channel through which their data can travel without being “kidnapped” by cybercriminals.
The purpose of VPNs is not to hide the traces left by online users, nor to protect cybercriminals. In fact, the purpose of these networks is to encrypt and protect the data that travels over the internet (Image: Reproduction / Shutterstock)
So even if you’re not interested in browsing the depths of the “deep web”, using a VPN will help you keep your data safe and out of trouble – especially when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi.
2. VPNs reduce connection speed
Since VPNs forward their requests to an intermediary server, which is usually far from your location, responsible for intermediating your internet connection, many people think that this drastically reduces the connection speed. Well, that is not entirely true.
This is a myth that probably arose from the confusion between the terms Proxy and VPN, mistakenly associated with each other. Well, what there are, in fact, are public and free proxy’s servers, which are widely used and, therefore, have to limit the speed of access by Internet users to get the job done. Therefore, as Proxy and VPN are confused, many people believe that this is an evil that also plagues VPNs.
After all, what is the difference between Proxy and VPN?
Truth be told, what really limits the speed of a VPN is the speed of the user’s connection to the internet. The fact that the server is far from where the user is located also influences, but not to the point of compromising the web browsing experience.
Speed comparison of our computer connected directly to the internet (left) and connected to a VPN server in Houston, United States (right). Realize that there was practically no change in speed (Image: Screenshot / Sergio Oliveira)
So be careful not to choose a cat over a share. Choose a virtual private network that offers several server options for you to connect to and make sure you are not hiring a proxy server for vpn torrent client.
3. Paid VPNs are wasteful, free ones are sufficient
Let us always remember that saying that there is no free lunch. Well, it also applies to technology and, when using free VPN services, you will probably be giving up something to “pay” for this gratuity.
In addition, free VPNs often come with a number of limitations that can frustrate web browsing. In this case, speed limits and monthly data traffic are common, which are not at all generous.
To make the scenario even worse, several of these services collect user browsing information, email addresses and other personal data. And before you find it all absurd, remember this: they have to pay the bills somehow, right?
4. All VPNs are the same
This is a myth that also leads many people to choose inappropriate providers and to put their information at risk. It is important to note that each provider offers a specific type of server, with a specific level of encryption. This means that this level of encryption may vary depending on the service contracted. Some offer soft encryption, which is usually associated with low monthly fees; others offer high-end encryption, which also directly affects the amount paid monthly. In this sense, the ideal is to choose a provider that offers its services via OpenVPN; in contrast, avoid PPTP at all costs.
VPN providers offer several levels of data encryption; therefore, the more expensive the hiring, it is assumed that the more secure the encryption will be (Image: Adaptation / Reproduction)
Another aspect to be cautious about is privacy. Before hiring a VPN service, make sure that it does not keep any logs. If the options that are within your budget still include these records, note what kind of information is saved and avoid anyone who stores personal data and what you do online.
5. With a VPN, you can do whatever you want online
Make no mistake: although your data is encrypted and protected from prying eyes from cybercriminals, that doesn’t mean you can do what you want online. Taking risks on obscure websites can put your data at risk and expose your computer to malware, key loggers and ransomware. It is important to note that VPNs are not antivirus, nor do they prevent the risks to which a sloppy user may be exposed online.
So stay alert! Do not abandon good security habits, avoid suspicious emails and always use firewalls, antivirus and antimalware to keep yourself out of trouble.
Always remember that your personal information is the most valuable currency for hackers and malicious people. So knowing how VPNs work and choosing a good provider can help to mitigate your online security concerns.
What’s up? Did you like the myths we discussed here? Are there any other myths that you believe to be false? Share with us and with readers in the comments box below.