While one article in the New York Times questions if there is still a need for VPNs, another in Forbes Magazine is giving ten reasons why you do need them. So, what is the truth? Does privacy not matter anymore? Let’s break it down:
Trusting the VPN provider
While there is a good argument about “whether you should trust your VPN provider with all the data that you didn’t trust your ISP provider with”, we have to consider that in most countries (that are not the United States) the biggest threats online are not coming from our own internet providers. EU regulations, for example, strictly forbid ISP providers from selling data to third parties. We should instead worry about applications, cybercriminals and governments tracking our activity.
Sidenote: Dataleaks in 2020 from dubious and free VPN providers like UFOVPN, RabbitVPN, and SuperVPN showed that these services logged very detailed information, despite proclaiming a no-log policy. However, when NordVPN was hacked in 2018, the servers proved indeed to be empty. No logs were found.
Always choose a well-established and proven reliable VPN provider. These require only an email address to register and accept any form of payment including cryptocurrencies.
Another used argument against the value of a VPN is that “most websites and apps nowadays are already secured with SSL anyway”, which is true. However, this is not how risk mitigation works. With most dangers in life, people understand that safety comes in layers; driver’s license, seatbelt, airbag, etc. Internet security is not any different. Get yourself the layers of security that you can afford (up-to-date software, anti-virus, VPN).
The worst argument of all is probably that “a VPN gives you a false sense of security”. Nobody drives on the highway without a seatbelt thinking that that is the best way to keep them alert. If anything, a VPN might just be one way to start securing your internet communications.
Other useful features of a VPN
Another thing that technical experts, who do know how to secure themselves without VPN with help of browser extensions, anti-fingerprinting or TOR, forget is that a VPN has other benefits in the same package as well:
- VPN masks your IP address, which allows you to access blocked websites and censored content. This is very useful if you are an activist in a country with strict censorship rules (i.e. China, Russia, Saudi Arabia), but also to watch a video stream that is not available in your location (i.e. football games, YouTube videos and Hulu series).
- You can benefit from shopping discounts when regional pricing is used (usual in the travel industry)
- It protects your browsing activity from your boss when using the wifi network at work.
- A VPN can reduce jitter and packet loss when playing online video games.
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