Overselling products is a common tendency among tech companies. One of the best examples of this is the VPN industry.
VPN technology has been touted as the one-stop solution to every privacy, security, and freedom related concern users have regarding the Internet.
Although there is no question that VPNs offer several important benefits to netizens, there have emerged some misconceptions about these services in the minds of users.
As a reviewer of VPN services, I’m frequently asked some questions that clearly demonstrate a lack of understanding of the user about what a VPN really is and what it can do for you.
Over the years, I’ve seen some repeating myths related to VPN services. These misconceptions can be dangerous and may lead users to risky online behaviors.
In this article, I’ll bust some of the commonest VPN myths one by one.
Let’s take out our skeptical hats.
1. VPN is another name for proxy
This is a common confusion. Many people have asked me the difference between proxy and VPNs, as most people don’t really see any difference between the two and use the terms interchangeably.
The truth is, VPN and proxies are entirely different technologies but they do have similar functions.
A proxy is a server that merely works as an intermediary between a user and the website you want to access. The proxy will request the page you want to see from the internet and then return this page to you.
However, during this entire process, the proxy won’t encrypt all the data transferring between your device/PC and the proxy server.
While you will be able to access a site that has been censored or is restricted in your region with a proxy, you won’t get nearly the same security and privacy that you can expect from VPN.
Proxies are an open road | VPN is an encrypted tunnel
This is because VPN services use heavily encrypted tunneling protocols to route your data through. That boosts your overall security on the web.
What’s more, proxies only work for websites. They can’t reroute your traffic that is outside of the browser. VPNs tunnel the data from your entire device/PC with strong encryption.
The choice of hundreds of servers from different locations is another feature of VPN services which proxies lack.
So, the difference between VPN and proxy is quite significant and one that all privacy-conscious users on the internet should be aware of.
2. Using VPNs is Illegal
I can understand where this mistaken idea comes from. Hackers and cybercriminals use VPNs to keep their identities hidden to make it difficult for anyone to trace the person behind an attack.
Ergo, VPNs must be illegal.
Although it is true that cybercriminals use VPNs to as an insurance against a possible identity reveal, this doesn’t imply that VPNs are illegal.
In fact, VPN services are in great demand in organizations wherever there is sensitive information. Government agencies and businesses were the first to use VPNs before they were launched for public use.
So, VPNs are NOT illegal in and of themselves. It’s the legality of your activity that matters.
If you are involved in cyberbullying, for instance, it doesn’t matter if you’re using a VPN for it.
You are already overstepping the bounds of legality regardless of whether you have a VPN running when you commit the act.
3. VPNs are only for the paranoid
A lot of people simply the miss point about the need for VPN services while surfing the web. The first assumption most people make is that you have to be excessively concerned about your privacy on the web to use a VPN.
That is simply not true. The fact is that online fraud and privacy issues are a dime a dozen. A VPN is one of the most basic steps you can take to secure your privacy.
If you’ve been watching the news, you should know that privacy is getting increasingly difficult to maintain on the internet. Everyone uses social media and Google, which are notorious for invading user privacy and gathering personal information of users.
Therefore, the concerns for our privacy aren’t exaggerated, but grounded in reality.
3. VPN Protects You from Malware
VPN services use high level encryption to secure the data you communicate to others over the web. But make no mistake, VPNs are not anti-malware.
Encryption only puts a cloak over your data so that a hacker won’t be able to decipher anything even if they intercept it.
But malware can still infect your computer regardless of encryption. VPNs can’t really help you from pesky viruses and they were never designed to function as malware-killers.
So, if you have a tendency to click suspicious links and visit dangerous sites, you should use a reliable anti-malware for protection of your PC/device and data, rather than solely relying on VPN.
Everything has its use, but if you deploy something beyond its capability, the burden of blame rests only on you.
5. VPNs Turn You Invisible to Ad Trackers
While a VPN helps to drown out your real identity on the web, but it doesn’t have the same effect on ad trackers. Websites leave cookies that trace you round the web to display ads in your browser.
The thing with cookies is that they live within a browser. There is nothing in the core VPN technology to block these ad trackers.
However, some providers are equipped with additional ad-blocking features which can ward off ad trackers.
An example of such a VPN is Surfshark. But keep in mind this is an exception to the rule and ad-blocking goes beyond the core of what a VPN is designed to do.
6. VPNs Don’t Log Information
This is both true and false, depending on which specific VPN you are talking about.
No two VPN services are the same. Every provider has different policies and terms of services. Some take the privacy of their users very seriously, while others not so much.
For instance, ExpressVPN has an excellent track record when it comes to protecting user privacy and truly lives up to its promise of “zero-logs”.
But the same cannot be said of every provider out there, unfortunately.
I’ll recommend going through VPN reviews to discover how well each VPN ranks in terms of privacy as well as other important aspects.
There are a lot of myths surrounding VPN services and continued belief in some of these can be detrimental to your online security.
While VPNs are good for many things, they can’t solve every security and privacy related issue you are concerned about.
It is important to free yourself from the common misconceptions about VPNs so you can make an informed decision when you have to get one.
I hope I cleared your misconceptions if you had any. Feel free to ask questions below if you still have some confusions regarding VPNs.