Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have become indispensable for safeguarding online privacy and security. They create a secure and encrypted connection between your device and the internet, making it harder for cybercriminals, government agencies, and even your internet service provider (ISP) to monitor your online activities. However, it is essential to remember that a VPN is not an impenetrable shield. Users should remain vigilant and aware of potential risks even when using a VPN.
This article will highlight ten things to watch out for while utilizing a VPN.
Ten things to watch out for, even while using a VPN.
VPN Logging Policies
Not all VPN providers follow a strict no-logs policy. Some keep records of your online activities, which may undermine your privacy. Always research the VPN’s logging practices before subscribing to ensure your data remains confidential.
Free VPN services are tempting but often come with hidden costs. Many sell user data to third parties or inundate you with ads. Others come bundled with malware and spyware, making you more at risk after installing the VPN than before installing it. Invest in a reputable paid VPN to ensure better privacy and security.
Domain Name System (DNS) leaks can compromise your privacy, revealing the websites you visit even with a VPN. Test your VPN for DNS leaks regularly to ensure your data is not being exposed inadvertently.
During a DNS leak, your requests are using your ISP’s DNS servers (instead of private DNS servers used by the VPN), which means your ISP will see your requests even though you are using a VPN.
IP Address Leaks
Like DNS leaks, IP address leaks can disclose your location and identity. Utilize online tools to check for IP address leaks to stay protected.
VPN Connection Drops
VPNs are not infallible, and connections can occasionally drop. If your VPN connection is interrupted, your data might be exposed without your knowledge. Enable a kill switch, a feature that blocks internet access if the VPN connection drops, to mitigate this risk.
Malware and Phishing
A VPN cannot protect you from clicking on malicious links or downloading infected files. Be cautious of suspicious emails, websites, and attachments, even when using a VPN. Even though your data is encrypted, people can still spy on you through malware and spyware installed on your device, so be careful! For such reasons, you should always have antivirus and malware scanners installed on your system in addition to the VPN.
Outdated VPN Software
Using an outdated VPN client can expose you to security vulnerabilities. Keep your VPN software up to date to benefit from the latest security patches and improvements. It is also worth reading the newsletter from your VPN provider, as they will keep you up to date with the latest updates and dangers of the Internet.
A VPN secures your internet connection but does not replace the need for strong device security. Ensure you have updated antivirus software and a robust firewall to enhance your overall protection.
Device security also means to watch out for your device. If you plug it into a USB charger at an airport, you stand at risk for juice jacking (people installing malware on your device through the USB port). If you leave your computer or cell phone easily available to others, they can easily harm your device in one way or another.
In other words, device security is about securing the actual device through antivirus and malware scanners, but it is also about taking care of the actual device and protecting it from the outside world physically.
Public Wi-Fi Risks
VPNs are highly recommended when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. However, exercise caution, as some malicious hotspots might attempt to deceive you with similar network names.
Such networks are often called evil twins, meaning they pretend to be someone else. This often attracts people who want to use free WiFi, but it gives hackers easy access to devices connecting to the network.
Choosing a trustworthy VPN provider is crucial. Some VPNs may claim to protect your privacy while actively engaging in questionable practices behind the scenes. Always opt for reputable, well-reviewed VPN services.
An expensive VPN isn’t necessarily better than a cheap VPN, but you should, in all situations, stay away from free VPN services. You can read more about all sorts of VPN providers here in our IP Address Guide.
What have you learned by reading this article?
While VPNs are powerful tools for safeguarding your online privacy and security, they are not foolproof. Staying vigilant and aware of potential risks is essential for maintaining a safe digital environment. Always choose a reputable VPN provider, keep your software updated, and remain cautious while browsing the internet, even with a VPN. Doing so lets you make the most of your VPN experience and enjoy a safer online journey.