Think your search history is private? Think again. Every site you visit, every Google search query you ever type is recorded, logged, and stored in some virtual cloud. In fact, courts have even begun using a person’s internet search history as evidence. Imagine every mundane search you ever typed being exposed. It’s possible, which is probably one of the main reasons why more people have begun using VPN.
A VPN is a virtual private network. They work by encrypting your internet connection and hiding your real IP address. When you connect to a virtual private network server, you’re able to browse the internet as if you were in a different location. Unfortunately, not all VPNs were created equal. While some help encrypt your connection, others actually sell your browsing data.
Not sure how to tell if a VPN is legitimate? Start by asking these three simple questions.
How Does the VPN Make Money?
With sites like Facebook and Google becoming increasingly intrusive, it’s never been more important to use a VPN service. However, using a free virtual private network is often more trouble than it’s worth. That’s because they tend to earn revenue in more nefarious ways, namely by injecting malware, recording your search history, or worse, selling your bandwidth to the highest bidder. If you’re going to use one, make sure you’re paying for a legitimate service.
Subscription-based VPNs provide a better service by offering more servers and faster networks. They also tend to have better encryption settings. You may be able to unblock Netflix with a free service, but that doesn’t mean you’re able to browse privately.
Do They Keep Logs?
VPNs were made to keep your information private, but not every virtual private network app works that way. When looking for a VPN service, check its logging policy. Those virtual private network services that keep track of your information aren’t keeping you anonymous, so make sure you choose a VPN that doesn’t keep logs. The main way to check this is to read their terms of service. Most companies explicitly state whether they keep logs on their website. In fact, most companies offering the service ride themselves on it. There’s no point in using a VPN if it’s just going to record your information.
Does the VPN Run Its Own DNS?
DNS stands for domain name system and is a way for your computer’s network to identify other networks. The best way to check if your VPN is, in fact, private and anonymous is to check if they run their own DNS on their virtual private network servers. When a VPN runs a third-party DNS, then you can safely assume your network isn’t anonymous. That’s because anyone who uses that same DNS can access your data, thereby negating the use of a VPN in the first place.
Companies that use third-party DNS systems often leak your IP address and are widely considered mediocre services at best.
If you’re using a VPN—and we strongly suggest that you do, make sure you use one that isn’t leaking your information.