top of page

Do You Trust Your VPN? Are You Sure?

Обновлено: 17 июл. 2019 г.


Virtual private networks are now a must-have privacy tool. But good luck figuring out which ones will actually make you safer.



    The advice is everywhere, from Consumer Reports to the New York Times to the Federal Trade Commission: If you care to keep your web browsing private and secure, you should consider a virtual private network, or VPN.


    A VPN encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through remote servers, protecting your data (like your browsing history, downloads, and chat messages) and masking your location. Long popular with hackers and software pirates, VPNs are poised to go mainstream—like ad blockers before them—as the average internet user becomes more sophisticated about online privacy. Reliable data on their use is hard to come by, but two VPNs recently cracked the top 30 of Apple’s App Store, surging ahead of mainstays such as Lyft, PayPal, and Yelp. One industry analysis estimates that VPN usage worldwide quadrupled between 2016 and 2018, while a forecast by Global Market Insights predicts the U.S. VPN market will be worth more than $54 billion by 2024.


    When I set out to find the right VPN, however, I ran into an awkward problem: figuring out which of the scores of VPN providers to trust.

The search for a VPN I could rely on led me on a convoluted journey through accusations and counteraccusations, companies with shadowy leadership and those with conflicts of interest, and VPN ratings sites that might be even shadier than the companies they’re reviewing. Many VPNs appear to be outright scams. Others make internet browsing sluggish. Free versions bombard you with ads. It’s a world so thicketed that the leading firms and experts can’t agree on the basic criteria for what counts as “reputable,” let alone which companies best meet that description.


    VPNs work by rerouting your internet connection through remote servers that disguise your location and make you harder for websites to identify. They also hide your browsing activity from your own ISP, which would otherwise have access to pretty much everything you do online—as could, say, a law enforcement agency that subpoenaed your activity (or, if you’re really paranoid, an intelligence agency that somehow hoovered it up).

Though they’re careful about how they advertise it, many VPNs can also be used to sneak around your country’s laws or copyright restrictions by patching you through servers in a different country. In fact, access to entertainment content is the top reason for VPN use around the world, according to a 2018 report from GlobalWebIndex. Other top reasons include access to social networks and news sites in countries where they’re blocked (VPNs are especially popular in China, despite officially being banned there) and maintaining privacy while browsing.


    In case you needed more incentive to consider using a VPN, Congress in 2017 nixed a rule that was supposed to prohibit ISPs from tracking and selling information about your online activity without your consent. Basically, your wireless provider and home internet provider are now free, legally speaking, to mine your online habits for profit.



6 просмотров0 комментариев

Kommentare


bottom of page