Digital privacy and protection are some of the biggest concerns for most people when they are online. Everyone has heard of those internet horror stories where hackers retrieve important details and steal an individual’s identity or max out their credit cards. While the population has become digital natives and is more educated about online protection, there are new challenges that need to be constantly addressed. Being tracked or hacked might be an abstract concept for some, as they may not feel the effects of an attack. Unlike the example of the theft of your personal identity and credit card information, the biggest threat is online platforms that sell and use your personal data without your permission, as it is widespread on most sites. Web.
So how does a VPN help protect you or prevent you from getting into these situations? Our best VPNs page lists some of the most secure and reputable VPNs on the market, but not many people really know what it takes to protect them online. Currently, a VPN is the best tool that a common Internet user can equip to protect themselves and remain anonymous online. So if you’ve wondered how a VPN can protect you and whether you can be tracked or hacked while using one, read on to find all the answers to your questions.
What Makes a VPN Connection Secure?
What exactly does a VPN do to protect you online? All you have to do is hit the “power” switch and surf the internet as usual on the user end. However, behind the scenes, your connection goes through a series of protocols that help encrypt and obfuscate your digital presence. At its most basic, a VPN takes your IP address (which is used to connect to the internet) and encrypts it, protecting your online activity from intrusive third parties, intruders, and even your own ISP (Internet Service Provider). . Other than that encryption, while you are connected to the internet through a VPN, there are no logs of your activity, so it is as if you have never really been connected to the internet – there are no traces of identifiable information that can lead back to you. .
This is what happens when you connect to the internet without a VPN. You enter a website address into the browser and your ISP instructs your router to direct your internet traffic to that website. Your ISP assigns you a unique number, also known as your IP address, which is essentially your “digital passport.” It may contain information about you, such as your address, phone number, email, and the ISP you use. Many, if not most, modern websites use your IP address and place cookies on your computer to retrieve more specific information about you and maintain a profile about you that they can use to advertise products and services to you or sell your data to third parties. If you think that doesn’t sound very safe or private, you would be correct.
When you use a VPN, you connect to the VPN provider’s servers and your internet traffic goes through the VPN’s internet connection, where you have a bunch of other connections doing the same thing as yours. This is a tactic that helps to hide and obfuscate your IP address, and since your connection is confused with a bunch of others on the VPN server, your IP address now shows up as the VPN to third parties and ISPs. The VPN providers also do not store or record any identifiable or sensitive information such as form information, history, or cookies.
Can you track me while using a VPN?
In fact, even the most secure servers and connections can be traced. Tracking is significantly easier than hacking, but it doesn’t reveal as much harmful information. Your information is more easily tracked if the intruder knows what they are looking for. If you are a high-profile individual or someone with extremely determined and high-tech enemies, then it is technically possible to be tracked even with a VPN connection, although it is extremely difficult. The truth is that it is incredibly time consuming and expensive to go through all the data and digital information necessary to locate your specific connection. So most ISPs or third parties won’t be bothered if you are protected behind a VPN.
If you don’t want to be tracked while using a VPN, it’s critical that you use a premium paid VPN provider. Free VPNs make money through in-app ads and sometimes by selling your data. A free VPN can encrypt your internet connection and protect you from online threats, but it may not have no-logging policies. If you’re concerned about being tracked, check to see if your VPN provider has a no-logging policy. If not, it is a major red flag and you should consider another provider. Using a premium VPN is also extremely important for those in dangerous or censored countries. If you regularly access websites that are considered illegal or blocked in those countries, those governments have reason to target and track you. A good VPN operates in a neutral country that does not cooperate with any government and has no personally identifiable information to provide.
Can a VPN be hacked?
Most of the time, VPNs are a collection of servers rather than a centralized entity. Imagine a hacker trying to hack a single connection only to find out that it is, in fact, a million connections. Once again, while technically hackable, the amount of res required to hack a VPN connection successfully is immense. Also, as mentioned above, most high-quality VPNs have strict no-logging policies. The servers that VPNs run on technically store minimal amounts of data needed to connect to the internet, but every time you disconnect or switch servers, all of your data is deleted. So even if a hacker could break into the VPN server, there would be minimal information, if any, to access and take advantage of.
There have been cases of VPN provider hacking, but nothing substantial was stolen due to their no-logging policies. In other words, there will always be exploits and hackers who test the limits of a security system. However, using a VPN is significantly more secure than not, and the chances of a VPN server getting hacked are pretty slim.
Other tips to stay safe online
A VPN is not a blanket solution for staying safe online. While it’s a great tool for anonymity and connection encryption, there are a few other things to consider when trying to practice digital security. Here are some tips to help you stay safe online:
- Have a strong password: Having a strong password with a combination of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols is the safest way to protect your accounts online. It’s even better if each website you have an account on has a different password. The best password managers can help you keep track of all this information, so you don’t have to worry about it.
- Be careful what you download: Downloading a virus or malware is the most harmful thing you can do to your computer. Be careful what you download and from which websites you are downloading files.
- Be careful what you share: What you post on social media can be used against you if a hacker or intruder is trying to get more specific information about you. If you are open with your confidential information on the Internet, it will not be very difficult for them to find what they are looking for.
- Be careful with your emails: Phishing scams are common for those who are not alert when reading emails. Phishing emails disguise themselves as official emails from reputable websites asking you to log in. Once you log into the phishing website, they store your username, email, and password and use them to access your account on the actual website.
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