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I am anonymous when using a VPN | Do VPNs Really Work

I am anonymous when using a VPN

This post was last updated on April 23, 2021

It’s an increasingly common question: Do VPNs really work? Do VPNs provide complete protection for access to my private information? We have noticed a disturbing trend in the VPN industry. More and more VPN providers are promising an “anonymous” or “no logging” VPN service with minimal or no transparency about how they actually handle your data. “Anonymous” VPN providers fall into two categories:

  1. They advertise an “anonymous service” on their website, but minute details in their privacy policy indicate that they log a significant amount of customer data.
  2. They advertise an “anonymous service” on their website, but their privacy policy simply states “we don’t register” without further explanation or details.

So, do VPNs really work? We’re not the only ones questioning “anonymous” or “no registration” VPN providers:

[i]If someone told you “You’d be completely anonymous, [because] You will have a VPN running all the time, that’s a lie.

… you have no way of knowing for sure how safe a “no logs” claim really is. Trust your life in a no-logs VPN service, it’s like gambling your life at Russian roulette

erase your data, EarthVPN user ‘no logs’ arrested after police find logs

[a]Anyone who runs a large enough IT infrastructure knows that running that infrastructure with zero logs is impossible.

“Anonymous” or “no-log” VPN providers have turned privacy-conscious VPN users to focus on the false promise of anonymity rather than on what really matters when choosing a VPN provider: transparency, trust, ease of use, performance, and reliability. We hope that dispelling some of these common myths will lead to a more transparent and frank discussion about privacy in the VPN industry and on the internet in general.

Anonymity is defined as Not to be named or identified. You will not be anonymous when you are online, even when using privacy tools like Tor, Bitcoin or VPN. Each service contains at least one piece of information that can be used to distinguish between different users, whether it is a set of IP addresses (VPN and Tor) or a wallet (Bitcoin). This information alone may not reveal any private details about the user, but it can be linked to other similar information to ultimately identify the individual.

Several posts have correctly pointed out that neither Tor nor Bitcoin makes you anonymous.

A VPN does not make you anonymous either, but it greatly increases your privacy and security online. A VPN is like your home window blinds. Curtains provide privacy for the activities that happen inside your home – even if your home address is public.

Privacy is a more realistic goal, not anonymity. Privacy is inherently personal and has different definitions for different people, but privacy generally means the ability to leave out information about you. Privacy can also mean the right to express yourself:

Privacy is your right and ability to be yourself and express yourself without fear that someone is looking over your shoulder and that you might be punished for being yourself, whatever that may be.

Evan Greer, Fight for the Future, committee member at Golden Frog’s
“Reclaim the Online Privacy Dashboard” at SXSW 2014

What does VyprVPN do

Golden Frog does not advertise or promise that VyprVPN will make you anonymous on the Internet. We announce that VyprVPN will greatly improve your online privacy and security.

Services that claim to make you anonymous attempt to crack Which Determine data (which is not a realistic goal, as discussed in Myth #1). However, services designed to protect privacy instead allow users to control access to their personal data, but No Eliminate all metadata.

Internet users can use private web browsers, proxies, Tor, encrypted message clients, VPNs and other great tools to increase their online privacy. These privacy tools help defend against mass surveillance by governments or “delegated” private companies to collect information at the direction of the government (in US companies such as AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner and Comcast). But none of these tools, alone or in any combination, make you anonymous. Online privacy through secure communications is a realistic goal, but anonymity is a false promise.

Edward Snowden recently encouraged netizens to focus on increasing privacy to defeat “mass surveillance”:

… The basic steps will encrypt your devices and … network connections [making] You are … much more solid than the average user – it becomes very difficult for any kind of mass surveillance. You will still be subject to targeted monitoring. If there is an injunction against you, if the NSA is after you, Still going to get you. But mass untargeted surveillance that collects everything will be much safer.

As one of the founders of Golden Frog posted on Usenet, “You are not anonymous on the web. You can run, but you cannot hide.”

What does VyprVPN do

VyprVPN and our parent company Golden Frog create tools, such as VyprVPN paired with VyprDNS™, to help encrypt our users’ Internet communications against mass surveillance and provide security. However, we do not advertise or promise that VyprVPN will make you anonymous on the Internet.

Many VPN service providers advertise an “anonymous service” on their website’s marketing pages, but they have terms in the fine print of their privacy policy that they sign in.

A UK VPN provider has been revealed to have advertised an “anonymous service” on their website for handing customer information about LulzSec Hacker to the authorities. As you will read below, limited VPN registration is not necessarily bad, as it helps the VPN provider to troubleshoot customer issues, prevent abuse of their IP and network space and offer different VPN plans (such as multi-device or limited GB plans). But advertising one service and providing another is wrong.

Here are some examples of VPN providers marketing messages that appear to conflict with the finer details on the Privacy Policy page:

protection shield:

website: “Anonymous browsing” with “no logs of your online activity or personal information”

Privacy policy: “When you use our Service, we may record certain information automatically using various types of proprietary technology (such as cookies), which may include your IP address, a unique device identifier, or application information installed on your device…” describe those details such as IP address and unique device identifiers that are not considered personal information by the Service.

Express VPN:

website: “Browse Anonymous”

Privacy policy: “In addition to the information you provide through our order form, we may store the following pieces of data: your IP address, the times our service is connected, and the total amount of data transmitted per day. We store this to be able to offer you the best possible network experience. We We keep this information safe and private. If we receive complaints about copyrighted material such as music and movies that are shared across our network, we may filter the traffic to see which account is sending it, and then cancel that account.”

Pure VPN:

website: “PureVPN anonymous VPN service;” “Makes you anonymous” “Anonymous web surfing”

Privacy policy: “…we will never disclose any information about you or your account to anyone other than law enforcement officials who have the appropriate documentation and paperwork.”

Furthermore, while using the PureVPN Services, you or someone else on your behalf may provide information about you or grant access to your system. This information may include, but is not limited to:

  • Names and IP addresses
  • Operating systems
  • operating logs”

Zenmat:

website: “Anonymous browsing;” “Browse Anonymous”

Privacy policy: “In order to prevent attacks against ZenGuard, your IP address will be cached on the server without being stored permanently or used for any other purposes.”

When choosing an access point, please note that only this server will process your IP address and request the web page you wish to access (“Target Site”).

“… on the server you selected, the request for your location and IP address is received over an encrypted connection.”

CyberGhost:

website: “Anonymous browsing;” “First class security and anonymity”

Privacy policy: CyberGhost keeps no logs that could interfere with your IP address or the moment or content of your data traffic.

Note: CyberGhost’s Privacy Policy was recently updated but previously stated that it “may process and use personal data collected in the preparation and delivery of the Service (Contact Data). This includes customer identification and data regarding time and volume of use.” Despite this privacy policy, they still advertise an “anonymous” service. Unfortunately, the newly updated Privacy Policy is confusing. They seem to say they don’t log the content of your traffic, but what about connection data like an IP address? Because their previous marketing messages conflict with their previous privacy policy, we have concerns about their current privacy policy.

What does VyprVPN do

Golden Frog does not represent or promise that VyprVPN will make you anonymous on the Internet and clearly specify what we record in our Privacy Policy.

When a VPN provider simply says they do “no logging,” that does not guarantee anonymity or online privacy. Any systems or network engineer will confirm that minimal logging is required to properly maintain and improve the systems or network. In fact, any provider claiming to be “no logging” should immediately make you wonder what’s going on with your private data. If the VPN provider keeps no logs at all, they will not be able to:

  • View plans with GB usage limits or on a per user basis
  • Limit VPN connections to 1, 3 or 5 on a per user basis
  • Troubleshoot connectivity or provide support for server-side issues
  • Handle your DNS requests when using a VPN service. They may rely on a third-party DNS provider that records DNS requests
  • Prevent abuse, such as spammers, port scanners, and DDOS to protect the VPN service and their users

The problem with logging is more complex than putting a single line in your privacy policy that says “we don’t register” and then advertising your service as “anonymous”. There have been many cases where user data has been handed over by VPN providers “no log”, yet they keep promising an anonymous service. For example, a “no-log” VPN provider recently admitted that it used packet-sniffer software to monitor customer traffic to prevent abuse. VPN users should demand more transparency from VPN providers.

What does VyprVPN do

VyprVPN is a no-log VPN provider, we do not keep any customer information. Before we became the first independently audited no-logs VPN provider, we previously adhered to the policy below.

Golden Frog is transparent about the data we hold.

Golden Frog records and retains the following information for 30 days only:

  • The customer’s source IP address (generally the IP address assigned by the customer’s ISP)
  • The IP address of VyprVPN used by the user
  • Start calling and stop time
  • Total number of bytes used

Golden Frog logs this minimum data so that we can provide the best service so users do not have to sacrifice speed and performance to protect their privacy and security. We do not make false promises of “complete anonymity” or “no login”.

Anyone running a server infrastructure knows that running an infrastructure with zero logs is very difficult, if not impossible. Now imagine how difficult it would be to get rid of logging if you don’t run your own infrastructure and instead rent VPN and network servers from third parties! Aside from VyprVPN,…


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