Is It Safe to Install a VPN?
There are a lot of questions on the safety of installing and using a virtual private network or VPN. It’s no wonder why so many online users conduct research on the risks involved when using a VPN and why masking your device’s identity and browsing location is a must.
To know the answer, it’s important to understand what a VPN is and how it can protect you. In addition, it’s necessary to understand that not all VPN service providers offer the same features and security.
Read on as we discuss if it is safe to install a VPN.
What is a VPN?
A VPN is used to keep your browsing activity private, anonymous and secure by encrypting what you send and receive. All the readable data is transformed into incomprehensible information to keep unauthorized users, especially cybercriminals from prying on your online activity.
Here’s how an internet connection works with a VPN. When you log in to your VPN app, your device is connected to a VPN server of your choice or what the VPN assigns to provide the best speed. Your data packets pass through a tunnel to hide all information from your ISP and websites. In this way, they can’t log your web browsing.
Your IP address is then masked, making it harder for websites, third-party platforms, ISPs and ad networks to monitor and gather data about what site you visit, what you do online and what your IP address is.
There are many VPN services available that perform this process, but not every tool can provide the security of strong and complex encryption that you need.
Why use a VPN?
Internet privacy has become a growing concern in the past decade. You probably have read about major security breaches and online spying on personal accounts. Online users are unaware how media companies, the government and even their ISP pry on users’ personal information that’s why numerous cases of data leaks are happening.
With a VPN, online users can protect their sensitive data and be assured to keep their online privacy because no one can track their activities online.
In addition, a VPN can help users access blocked web pages or content by streaming services. When you travel abroad and want to watch Netflix, for example, you can access the content offered back home but is restricted in your current location.
Is it safe to install a VPN?
The answer to this is a tricky one — Yes and No.
It’s not safe to install just about any VPN. For instance, free VPNs, which are heavily advertised online, can be too risky.
Free VPNs make a lot of money off its users by selling data from their online activities to ad agencies, marketing companies, consumer research groups and other companies that gather online consumer data.
You’ll also be bombarded by intrusive and annoying ads where each time you click on it, the VPN company earns a commission. And to make matters worse, these ads are known to carry malware.
But unlike free VPNs, a paid VPN such as ExpressVPN offers more bandwidth and a high level of encryption to fully secure your connection against hackers. You can also be assured of fast and stable connections with a very minimal drop in speed.
In addition, there are no ads and any risks of data leaks even if you suddenly get cut off from your VPN connection.
Therefore, it is safe to install a VPN but only if it is from a reliable service provider.
But here’s the catch.
A VPN is different from antivirus software. When malware, spyware, and viruses affect your device, your VPN cannot fix it. Thus, it is necessary to use anti-virus software and other security tools to ensure that you reduce the risks of getting your security compromised.
What can make installing and using a VPN safer?
Use the following criteria when assessing if a VPN is safe to install and use:
- Features – Does the VPN provider cover all of the bases needed to secure a user’s connection? Does it follow industry standards?
- Security – Does it prevent data leaks of any kind? Does it have an impeccable record of providing fully secured service without any instance of data breaches?
- No-logs policy – Can it guarantee that it does not record or log any of its user’s online activities? Has a third-party security assessor audited its no-logs policy?
- Kill switch – Does it quit all apps and programs once your VPN connection drops?
- Compatibility – Does it work with different operating systems (OS) and devices?
- Download speeds – Will it not compromise speed when connected?
- Geo-blocking – Can it route your traffic through another server in a different country to bypass geo-blocked websites?
- Devices per account – How many devices can simultaneously use the service?
- Pricing – How much is the cost of service? Does it offer a money-back guarantee? What about discounts and additional free months? Overall, is it worth the price?
- Payment methods – Does it offer alternative payment channels to cater to more types of subscribers? Does it offer a convenient payment process?
What’s a reliable VPN when it comes to security?
ExpressVPN is a consistent leader when it comes to security compared to other VPNs. It is based in the British Virgin Islands where it is against the law to conduct any form of data retention. Thus, ExpressVPN guarantees its clients that the company does not keep records of users’ activities or connection logs in any way.
Many analysts and product reviewers also agree that ExpressVPN is unparalleled when it comes to its strong privacy and security measures, a global presence of servers, and excellent split tunneling capability.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are VPNs safe for business?
Yes. Cyber attacks are mostly carried out in enterprise connections because of the value they have when it comes to financial data. Together with other security tools, a VPN can help ensure no malicious attacks can be carried out.
Is it safe to install VPN on my smartphone?
Yes, it is as long as your VPN service provider offers top-notch security.
Is a paid VPN safer than a free VPN?
Yes, it is. However, not all paid VPNs have the same level of security. It is important to look for a VPN that offers enough protection against unauthorized prying.