How is the VPN both legal and safe for most users? - Los Angeles Post-ExaminerLos Angeles Post-Examiner

How is the VPN both legal and safe for most users?

Hacking, ransomware threats and government monitoring have become common incidents today. More and more internet users are becoming aware of their online security and privacy. Using open Wi-Fi networks at cafes and airports pose significantly high-security threats for the senders and recipients of data. Spyware programs are becoming commonplace by the day. Evidently, people are becoming reliant on Virtual Private Networks (VPN) for protecting their privacy.

VPN can create a safe “tunnel” for sending and receiving data on any networks. Reliable VPN services can safeguard your data and device on any private network. It does not provide complete anonymity, but it reroutes the data through several IPs across the world to keep your location immediately a secret.

However, almost all regular VPN users have a few questions about this service.

1. Is a VPN safe for regular use?

2. Is a VPN completely legal in their country or state of residence?

Is a VPN legal? Where is it illegal to use a VPN?

To answer the second question first, we have to say that VPN is legal in almost every country, except Iran, Russia, and China. So, if you are a resident of the US or UK, you can use similar services in peace. Your service provider or the government should not have any doubts about the use of a VPN. More importantly, no country has imposed any restriction on how a person can use the VPN service. Most of the existing services provide multiple options that secure the user’s identity. While they don’t offer anonymity, they can guarantee the safety of your data. However, you should always pick the ones that have client-first policies. The VPN Company should not log client activity, and they should not store a user’s history. These services protect a client’s data and do not divulge it to government agencies as well.

Will VPN always keep you safe?

What you do with your VPN service is your discretion. Therefore, a VPN service might be legal in your location, but what you do leveraging the service might or might not be entirely legal. For example – if you use a VPN service for torrenting copyrighted files from unscrupulous sites in the US or Canada, it still remains illegal. Unless your VPN has a “no logging” policy, you can land in trouble in the future. As we have mentioned before, a VPN does not make the user completely anonymous. You should be cautious about the nature of the activities you engage in while using a VPN.

Why is connecting to the web without a VPN no longer safe?

When you connect directly to the internet without a VPN, you can gain direct access through the Internet Service Provider (ISP) Network Access Point. The ISP assigns individual users with a unique IP address. When the user connects the router to their modem, the router assigns local IP addresses to the devices under the main router. All the traffic that comes through the IP address remains visible to the ISP.

Therefore, when you are on the World Wide Web via a direct connection through the Network Access Point, your ISP can monitor and record the entirety of your activity online. Locating you precisely using the IP address is only a matter of minutes for experts. With the conspiracy theories surrounding NSA and its hyper-vigilance arguments, the drift towards the increasing use of VPN is quite justifiable.

Most ISPs have dedicated security measures and safeguards that prevents their network professionals from snooping on the user’s data. It is indeed possible. Most importantly, government agencies can export the user’s data from the ISP with official orders. The recent Google update that has mandated the use of SSL encryption on websites has ensured that ISP employees cannot poach authentication details (ID and Password) from the users, but the risk of tracking website visits and user preferences always remains.

What happens when you connect to the web via a VPN?

When you use a VPN service to connect to the internet, you route the device’s connection through at least one server in a different geographic location. Simply speaking, when the service directs you to a new server, you access the internet using the new server. That happens while you retain a connection to your home ISP, but the remote server assigns a new IP address. Many services provide multiple rerouting via foreign servers that makes tracking a user’s behavior increasingly tricky for their ISP.

Additionally, all the data transcriptions have extensive encryption. Most VPN services offer SSL or AES encryption to the user data. Check out the Fastest VPN Guide to find out the best VPN service out there right now. The presence of such heavy encryption implies that your ISP cannot determine where you are going or what you are downloading. They can only get an idea about how much data you are downloading on your device.

Since the remote server bears a different ISP, one way to determine that you have connected to the web using a remote ISP (of a different state or country) is by observing the paid ads. For example – if you are using a device in New York that is using a remote server in Washington DC, you will begin to notice updates for Redskins Games rather than the weekend Giants match on any site you visit. That is not a problem at all since the ISP in Washington DC cannot track your activities entirely either.

Which VPN providers will keep your data and activities completely safe?

There is always a legitimate question most new VPN users ask – “will the VPN server ISP monitor my actions”?

Unless you are working with a dubious company or a free service provider, there is little reason for you to worry about the indiscretion of the VPN server. It is their duty to hide your activity to your home ISP, even when the remote server’s ISP has the potential to track your online movements. As a result, almost all paid and popular VPN service providers have three policies to safeguard customer interest –

The no-logs policy

We have mentioned about the no logs policy a couple of times before, but we cannot emphasize this policy enough. It is the best solution towards any potential breach of privacy or security that a VPN can offer. Many reputed VPN companies maintain a strict no-logs policy for all users. They might keep the metadata, but that does not threaten to divulge one’s identity and other personal information. Always check a VPN provider’s customer log policy before you hop on board.

Anonymous payment methods

For added security reasons, most VPN service providers do not log the names of their customers for payment purposes. Even when you decide to pay with your credit card or debit card, these VPN services will only use your username, and email address combination to give you access to payment methods. Prepaid debit cards, Bitcoin and PayPal, are all accepted methods of payment for these VPN services.

Shared IP addresses

Most importantly, all reputed VPN companies only use shared IP addresses. It is true that it does not anonymize users, but it helps in providing a high level of privacy. When a VPN assigns the same IP address to multiple users sitting in different locations across the country or globe, it is as good as providing them with direct anonymity. When multiple users share the same IP address, it is impossible for third-parties including government authorities to track the activities back to a single user.

All three policies help individual users steer clear of legal trouble. Enforcing these policies enables the VPN service provider to protect the users from the requests of law enforcement. Think of the entire protocol as a default setup. Therefore, there remains no way for the agencies to extract information on an individual VPN user based on the shared IP address.

Hence it is imperative to find a VPN provider, who does not have a history of leaking or handing over user data to other parties. If a VPN user has done so before, they might do it again under a warrant.

Who should use VPN services?

VPNs bring peace of mind for numerous journalists, data engineers, researchers, and computer programmers. In fact, if you feel that your ISP has reason to track and log your online research, you should get a VPN without a doubt. The high-level security features even the most basic VPN service offers is enough to help web users sleep in peace at night. It keeps data transactions and user history safe from any third-party snooping. The most famous VPNs enforce military-grade encryption standards that keep intruders including hackers and government agencies out of the tunnel.

When vetting VPN services, try to stay away from free services. Almost all VPN companies need to make money. These are pro-profit companies. Therefore, it is close to impossible for them to offer the same world-class services the high-end, paid VPNs offer. Paying for a VPN service ensures quality and secure facilities. Watch out for fake VPN services that do nothing to provide online security or mask the IP address of the user. These are also the ones that are most likely to sell user data to third-party agencies for profit.


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