By now, you’re probably using a VPN. If you’ve been keeping even slightly up-to-date with the state of online privacy, you know that nothing is private unless you take extra steps to make it so. A VPN is as essential as an antivirus – more so if you’re using an operating system that has great inbuilt antivirus software.
Problem is, VPNs can sometimes let you down. The dream is to just connect through a third-party app and never face any privacy issues again, but unfortunately ignorance no longer pays.
If you ignore the potential risks that come with using a VPN, you may end up even less secure than you were before.
As such, here are the 3 most common VPN risks, and what you can do to prevent then.
- DNS Leak
What is a DNS leak? Basically, it’s when your device lets you down by sending your data through to your ISP before routing it through your VPN. Your browsing is, as before, vulnerable to eavesdropping by your ISP or hackers. You’re worse off than before – because now you’re under the assumption that you’re protected.
So, how do you prevent it? The best VPNs offer a built-in DNS leak protection feature. In an ideal world, all VPNs would come with this. At present, some do and others do not. TorGuard is one of the best VPNs that offer this feature, although there are others and it might not be your first choice for other reasons.
Alternatively, sites like VPNBase have free tools you can use to prevent DNS leaks.
- Data Logging
This is the most unnecessary risk that you may face when using a VPN. Some VPN providers log user data, as they are unwilling to put up resistance when asked by the government for logs. Some do so openly, while others are collecting your data without admitting it.
The only way to prevent this risk is by going with VPN providers with a high level of trust. Is there a way to be 100% certain? No, but you can be confident that they wouldn’t have a high level of trust if independent researchers hadn’t done some strong investigating.
- Malicious Providers
Because VPN providers exist in an industry that most customers do not understand, some go further than simply logging user data. They are actually putting you in more danger by selling your data, opening you up to DoS attacks, and giving your bandwidth to malicious buyers who use it for illegal means.
Generally, the providers who do this are the free ones. They have to make money somehow, after all. You should be suspicious by VPNs that are completely free. Why are they in the business? How can they be making enough money off advertising when others need to charge monthly fees?
The exception is VPN providers who offer a free service in addition to their paid service. This is usually granted with limited bandwidth. The strategy is to draw users in so that they ultimately choose to pay when the free bandwidth is not enough. They therefore provide as good a service as they do to their paying clients.
Just using a VPN is not enough to ensure your safety. Make sure you stay aware of all the potential dangers and do what you have to to prevent them.