Is Your VPN Masking your Online Privacy or Exploiting Your Data? 6 Ways to Find Out

With constant technological evolution making it increasingly challenging to keep prying hands and eyes out of one’s online business, it is hardly surprising that the race towards VPN software has mounted up over the years.

This works just as well for marketers as the market has witnessed an influx of VPN apps, all claiming the power of protection against cyber attacks. However, recent studies have shown many of these apps cannot be trusted as some have been noted to be infested with malware of sorts while others don’t just work.

Instead, in addition to their inadequacies, they risk the users’ privacy with constant demands of access to data and files thereby setting up the dilemma of whether VPNs can be trusted or our systems are better off without them.

Given, all VPNs come short at some point; it doesn’t necessarily mean they are all up to no good. Studies have shown that there are many VPNs out there with optimal protection in mind.

Your protection is why we will be pointing out 6 steps that could help you take out the rotten eggs quite easily and enjoy the best Virtual Private Network (VPN) software has to offer.

1. Carefully Examine the Data Protection Warranty

Recent research by CSIRO, a security firm, has shown that far from what was promised on several VPNs’ marketing platforms, their privacy policies are found lacking.

Naturally, VPNs are designed to encrypt user data such that it cannot be viewed by a third-party. However, some VPNs do not encrypt the data, and this in most cases, gets leaked or sold to third-parties. Hence, to note which VPN will give you the optimal protection, it is essential to overlook the length of any legal document present and carefully read through.

2. Identify the Safe and the Risky Permissions

You must have noticed that each time a new app is installed on your device, it asks for permissions to read through specific applications already on the device. The “read carefully” bs happens such that at every point you grant app permission — it gains access to delve into your personal space.

Your personal space — is well, personal, and that’s why it is vital to take note of which permissions pose a high risk to your privacy and which is safe.

Permission is grouped into standard consents and dangerous permissions by the Android documentation for App developers. The difference here is that the former poses no harm and is readily admitted by your device.

The latter, though, are those you are prompted to give access to and VPNs fall into this category. Support in their direction is that to understand what to protect, they need to know it.

However, some VPNs overdo it by asking for permissions spanning access to read or write your external storage, mobile number, cellular network, device location, low-level log files, and more.

In most cases, they are not required for VPNs to function and are potentially dangerous to the user’s privacy. Hence, it is crucial to read through all permission asked for — carefully to decide whether they are worth it.

3. Thoroughly Check the Logging Policy

We all want anonymity, privacy, and most of all, security with our systems; which is why we subscribe to VPNs. Data storage or Logging, though, has made this promise contentious these days.

One prominent feature of most VPNs is that they tend to store data on a large scale. All of the storing of data done by VPNs, they do either for sharing or possibly to sell your data to third parties, for their service improvement, compliance with certain policies or even logging in with VPS.

Logging is categorized into two: the usage and connection logs. In most cases, the connection logs are practically harmless as they have little to do with your identity as a user, but with usage logs, information can be traced back to the user.

Hence, a way to go about identifying which VPN is safe enough is to read through their privacy policy thoroughly. The main issue here, though, is that for the sake of marketing, some VPNs might simply have a ‘strictly no logging’ policy but fall short.

So, it is essential to go beyond marketing and check through their privacy policy page to see if you agree with their terms. It is also important to note that VPNs like NordVPN, for instance, monitor part of your data deemed less critical. This statement and service, though, is safe as it’s used for their service improvement — and almost all trustworthy VPNs do the same. Any service provider that fails to mention this policy — and only promises a strict “no logging” policy should be reviewed thoroughly, as it’s likely to be just marketing hype.

4. Try Out a Standard Antivirus

As great as VPNs are at protection, they are sometimes not entirely safe from malware; studies have shown that some VPNs are now good hiding places for malware of sorts especially since they have to be downloaded after all. For the purpose of downloading — this is the reason why you can never go wrong with an antivirus running side by side.

Antiviruses practically do the same work as most standard VPNs, albeit without the anonymity and privacy feature on most counts. Hence, if you want to check out the integrity of your VPN, try your hands at antiviruses or have both an Antivirus and a VPN running together on your system for better security.

5. Review the Server Tunnel Protocol

Finding out the protocol through which the VPN provides a link between you and its server is another way to determine how good a VPN is. The purpose of this check is to ensure that there are no loopholes or backdoors for government and other parties to exploit.

The most common encryption protocol is the OpenVPN protocol. The identity of legitimately secure VPNs is such that in addition to this protocol, they use IKEv2, L2TP, and SSTP.

To identify which protocol is in use, search for a “Technical details” or “Features” page on the VPN’s product page or website for a rundown of the details you need. You can also go through the help or support section. On a final note, it is essential to forgo VPNs with the PPTP protocol as their only protocol.

6. Spot the DNS Servers

VPN services work such that each request made by the user is encrypted and sent to the company’s server. This request, in turn, sends the request to a DNS server which matches it with an IP address and transfers the user to the site.

The downside of this principle is that privacy is most commonly nipped through the DNS servers due to the access to information provided by the VPN. To spot an excellent server, you must ensure that you pick a VPN that uses its own DNS server and has built-in anti-leak protection in place.

All you need to do is to go through the support or FAQ page and type in a keyword (DNS server, for instance) and you should know what you need to.

Final Thoughts

VPNs offer a wide range of protection services, which makes it one of the best choices for cybersecurity. However, it is crucial to identify their viability for whichever purposes you deem fit enough.

Research has shown that VPNs have their limitations and issues to be addressed. Addressing private security issues is why it is essential to carefully and thoroughly read through every legal document attached to their pages. Okay — at least read through trustworthy VPN review sites that review these documents in your place. This goes a long way in determining the optimality of the protection services promised by VPNs.

Joseph Chukwube

Entrepreneur, Digital Marketer, Blogger

Entrepreneur and Online Marketing Consultant, Joseph Chukwube is the Founder of Digitage. He’s highly enthusiastic about all things business and technology, and he shares informative resources to help businesses and consumers stay informed, safer, and smarter online. Want to say hi? Shoot him an email at

This UrIoTNews article is syndicated fromReadWrite