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Can you get complete anonymity with a VPN?

Can you get complete anonymity with a VPN?

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2021, October 12 ยท read 11 minutes

While some broadcast their lives on Instagram, YouTube or Twitter, others prefer not to be named. In search of anonymity, Internet users turn to tools that promise just that. One of these is VPN. But is it even possible to completely anonymize the Internet? What does it take to make that happen, and how do VPNs help? Let’s get into it.

In short: does a VPN make you anonymous?

Well, no. but it An essential tool for those looking for a certain degree of anonymity online. A VPN service encrypts your data, hides your internet traffic, bypasses website blocks, and protects you from tracking, ISP snooping, hacking attempts, targeted ads, and internet censorship.

Why it’s impossible to be 100% anonymous on the Internet

Do you have an email in your name? I guess yes – most of us do. Have you bought books, clothes, electronics, or anything else online? Again, maybe yes – it’s easy, fast, and time-saving. But it’s linked Your name, address and bank account credentials. That’s way too many personal information that we provide for a single online purchase. This apart from leaving a trace of us IP addresses Wherever we go on the Internet!

All the data you put online is stored somewhere. Your data will most likely have been collected and used without your knowledge – perhaps for research purposes, perhaps for marketing, or for something more obtrusive, such as hacking or surveillance.

Of course, the amount of data stored in some server far from you depends a lot on your online habits, but one thing is clear – none of us are anonymous online, and our online privacy is always at risk.

If VPNs don’t make me anonymous, why do I need one?

without VPN

with VPN

Your real IP address is recorded wherever you go

The IP address of the VPN server is logged wherever you go

Your data is not encrypted

Your data is encrypted

Your real IP address reveals your real location

The VPN server’s IP address reveals the location of the VPN server

We’ve already proven it It is almost impossible to completely hide your identity on the Internet. But do not delete your VPN. Although complete anonymity is unrealistic, a good VPN service helps you get closer to it by improving your online privacy.

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The VPN creates an encrypted tunnel from your device (for example, a computer or phone) to the destination you are trying to reach (for example, YouTube). While you are connected to a server located in another country (for example, France), your ISP and the site you are visiting “think” that you are in France.

This connection to the VPN server creates a good degree of privacy, but I would be lying if I said you became 100% anonymous.

With a VPN, you protect your data. Some very important components play a role in ensuring that no information passes through the encrypted VPN tunnel.

Can You Be Tracked If You Use a VPN?

There are many factors that play into this question, but for most intents and purposes, no, you can’t be tracked if you’re using a VPN. Of course, some caveats may apply, especially if you have been hacked by hackers!

What goes into a good VPN service?

Not all VPNs are the same, and a lot depends on which features the VPN provider prioritizes. Here are a few things to consider when looking for that “anonymous” VPN:

  • VPN encryption: Surfshark uses the AES-256 encryption algorithm, which is the highest industry standard. Even for the most powerful computers, decrypting data can take more than a lifetime.
  • Strict no-logs policy: Being private means being private from everyone, including your VPN provider. Surfshark maintains a no-logs policy, which means that none of your connection logs are kept regardless of what is required to maintain your connection. What you do online is only your business.
  • RAM servers only: Many VPN providers do not rely on 100% RAM servers. Surfshark is one of the few to do so. Essentially, running all servers on random access memory (RAM) means that technical configuration information that will be stored on the hard drive is automatically erased when the server shuts down.
  • VPN protocols: A reliable VPN connection would not be possible without VPN protocols. Industry leading protocols such as IKEv2, OpenVPN and Wireguard ensure your successful path to a more anonymous browsing experience.
  • Obfuscated VPN Servers: With obfuscation, your VPN traffic looks like regular internet traffic for your ISP and the websites you visit. It benefits you by bypassing VPN barriers and protecting you from excessive ISP snooping.
  • multi hop: Surfshark provides a feature that allows you to connect to two server locations at the same time. It strengthens the VPN connection, improves security, and hides your location and Internet traffic more reliably.
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How privacy differs from anonymity

When it comes to VPNs, terms like anonymity, privacy, and security seem to come hand in hand. However, Being private does not mean being anonymous.

If I say someone is a special person, I’m still aware of their existence. I just don’t know anything about them. However, when someone is anonymous, their existence is a secret.

So, being private online is an achievable goal because you can hide your online activity, protect your personal data and information, and remove a lot of digital identifiers from the websites or apps you visit. But completely hiding yourself may only be possible if you’ve never been online.

If anonymity is your goal, beware of free VPNs

Free vs Paid VPNs Overview

servers

Speed

Privacy

advertisements

Malware

free

A few

slow

problem

It has ads

It may contain malware

to push

Money

fact

no records

Has an Adblocker

Has a malware blocker

Free VPNs are hardly better than no VPN at all. Sometimes, worse. Why do I say that?

  1. Shady’s business models: A VPN infrastructure requires a lot of resources to stay afloat. Not to mention paying for hosting services and advertising campaigns. They may not charge you a fee, but it is likely that they are still making a profit from you. how? Usually, by storing and selling your data. And that’s not exactly what you’d expect from a tool that promises anonymity, privacy, and security.
  2. Ambiguous or non-existent privacy policies: The fact that more than half of the most popular free services on app stores have Chinese ownership and unclear privacy policies has been in the public domain for a while. It is important to keep in mind that many of these VPN services do not care about your privacy and instead jump in the direction of fast-rising VPN to make money.
  3. Ads on ads on ads: Free app developers, in general, tend to turn to ads to make a profit. VPN providers are no exception. Besides being annoying and often very personal, the ads make the loading process slower and consume a lot of your mobile data – which you pay for! And who wants to pay to see ads?

Free VPNs tend to be almost the opposite of paid VPNs. Paid VPN offers a no-logs policy; Free VPN has a problematic privacy policy. Premium VPN offers ad and malware blockers; Free VPN contains ads and sometimes malware.

Aside from using a VPN, what else can you do to get some privacy online?

Although 100% anonymity online can only be obtained if you are not connected to the Internet at all, tools like a VPN help you protect your data. But a VPN isn’t the only service that brings you closer to anonymity.

  1. Get a better browser

Tor (The Onion Router) is an anonymous browser that hides your real IP address, internet data and browsing history by routing your traffic through random Tor servers. This random routing ensures a high level of anonymity. However, Tor has drawbacks. For example, it’s slow, especially by today’s standards.

  1. Get rid of Google for DuckDuckGo.

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that focuses on users’ privacy. It doesn’t track or word its users, so everyone sees the same thing instead of showing you personalized search results.

The VPN works well with Tor and DuckDuckGo (or even comes with its own search tool). If you decide to use either of them, also make sure to route your internet traffic through VPN servers for a higher degree of privacy and security.

  1. Remember the privacy settings on your devices

By adjusting your device’s privacy settings, you can control which apps have permission for your location, contacts, messages, camera, photos, or even health information. When an app requests access to your camera, carefully evaluate why it needs it, and only then make a decision.

  1. Check your accounts for violations

You likely have a lot of online accounts. I know I do. Not to alert you, but there is a good chance that at least one of your accounts has been hacked. Check your email address (or addresses if you have multiple addresses) at Have I been Pwned or the Surfshark Alert email security tool. If you find hacked accounts, change the passwords and make sure they are strong!

A reliable VPN service is the first step to online privacy

Realistically, there is no anonymous VPN. However, VPNs provide invaluable privacy and security from online monitoring, tracking, hacking attempts, data collection, targeted advertising, ISP monitoring, and censorship laws. With digital privacy all around the world under attack, there is no doubt that internet users need a VPN now more than ever.

written by

Martinas Klimas

Knowing as much about VPN as it is healthy for someone who is not a VPN developer


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