VPNs are growing more popular in this day and age than ever before, largely because sophisticated means of surveillance are now being leveraged by state governments and companies all around the world. If you want to keep your digital activities hidden from prying eyes and maintain your privacy regardless of what legislators in your country say, you’ve likely solicited the help of a VPN already. Despite the impressive allure of many VPN services, however, they can fail to protect you in some instances.
Here’s where VPNs fail to protect you, and how you can go about ensuring your digital privacy in an age where that’s increasingly rare.
How many people are relying on VPNs?
It’s not entirely possible to determine how many people are relying on VPNs at any given moment. It’s indisputable that untold millions of web browsers need one or something similar — after all, everyone from ISPs to companies to state governments are restricting access to certain websites or vacuuming up metadata in an intrusive faction. We do know that access to VPNs has grown exponentially in recent years, and that desktop users continue to be their primary customers. Whether this is all for naught remains to be seen, however, as sophisticated means of bypassing VPNs are becoming more readily available to intrusive actors with nefarious intentions.
When it comes to thwarting the efforts of ISPs to monitor and sell your internet history to interested third parties, a VPN could very well be immensely useful. After all, major ISPs won’t be particularly interested in the dirty details of your browsing history and will mostly ignore your VPN usage if they detect it at all. On the other hand, more dedicated third parties could very well bypass your VPN if you’re attempting to use it for seditious purposes, and in some cases the leveraging of a VPN in the first place could turn you into a bigger target than you’d otherwise be.
Chinese authorities have gone to extensive lengths to brutally crack down on the usage of a VPN, for instance, with crippling fines being applied to any who are found using such services. It should thus be obvious that in some circumstances, using a VPN is effectively the same thing as painting a large target on your back in the event that local authorities uncover your seditious behavior. Nevertheless, many dissidents and privacy advocates continue to use a VPN in such situations, as they have a privacy imperative that supersedes any fear of oppressive regimes.
Can the NSA break through a VPN?
Communist regimes aren’t the only ones interested in breaking through VPN services to detect the traffic hidden within their confines. According to infamous NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, for instance, the NSA already possesses the capability to bypass VPNs, which should come as little surprise to those who are familiar with the agency’s monstrously complex operations and extensive resources. Whether the words of a whistleblower are worthy of consideration in your eyes or not doesn’t so much matter, either, as many other IT experts have come to believe that the NSA possesses such abilities. Snowden’s instance, however, was a notable example of someone who may have been potentially be in-the-know spilling the beans.
Despite these concerns, it’s likely true that VPNs are mostly secure and still worthy of the consideration of most internet users. After all, the NSA isn’t interested in everyone, and Chinese authorities are trying to crack down on VPNs for a reason — they work. If you’re interested in persevering your digital privacy and keeping your online movements hidden from prying eyes, VPN reviews can help you locate reliable services which can thwart most basic attempts to monitor you. It’s simple imperative to remember that there’s no silver bullet to IT security problems, and that a VPN can’t keep you safe from everyone, everywhere, as nothing can handle such an unrealistically tall order.
Major nation states and thoroughly dedicated ISPs may be able to bypass the protection offered by most VPNs, but the circumstances in which they would do so are exceedingly rare. Furthermore, the everyday privacy protections offered by VPN services still frequently make them worth your while. VPNs can fail to protect you in some situations, but by and large they’re still useful tools worthy of your consideration.