Net-savvy users consider VPNs a necessity these days. Can you afford to connect to the internet without using a Virtual Private Network? In restrictive countries like Russia, the UAE, and China the government imposes bans on certain types of content which they deem subversive or not in the nation's interest. Whether you're there for business or pleasure, in both cases you may experience difficulties accessing a staggering number of websites. VoIP services like Skype and WhatsApp are blocked, along with gambling sites, Netflix US, Twitter, Instagram, Xing, and Wikipedia pages, to name but a few. There are numerous reasons why netizens have started to use VPNs. The most basic thing a VPN does is that it protects your system from spam, malware, viruses, and other digital threats. In addition to that
- VPNs provide a certain level of anonymity. The user can exercise their inalienable right to voice an opinion without dreading a backlash from government agencies or corporations. Secure servers keep communication private.
- Instead of your own unique identifier, the IP address of the VPN server is provided. This prevents websites and applications from knowing your geographic location and from sending you targeted advertisements.
- VPNs protect the identity of the user and prohibit unauthorized access to the user’s personal information and transactions.
- VPNs hide sensitive data like bank details, passwords, and credit card numbers.
- VPNs provide companies a secure network which can be used by all employees.
Why VPN censorship is increasing all over the world
As VPN use expands around the globe, governments have started to realize that this technology aims to impede control over their citizens. China alone cannot be blamed for a ‘Rise of Digital Authoritarianism’: according to a report by the nonprofit group Freedom House (which surveyed over sixty countries), roughly 40 percent of those nations experienced crackdowns on digital freedoms. But even with the deterioration of internet freedom suffered in countries like Cambodia, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Venezuela, the report found that with its 'Great Firewall' model of digital control, “China reached new extremes with the implementation of extensive Cybersecurity Laws and upgraded surveillance technology.” - Usually, a government will only ban foreign VPN service providers as they typically do not conform to the prevailing law of that nation. They generally allow local VPN providers to function and provide their services. However, local VPNs cannot offer the same quality and level of security as international providers and more often than not will monitor the internet activity of their clients.
How to use VPNs to keep yourself safe online
Let's take China as an example which has threatened to ban all VPNs back in 2018 and has already clamped down on services such as Dropbox, Gmail, Facebook, and YouTube. There are just a few VPN companies that are able to bypass this ban. If you enter China, you may not be able to access any VPN sites there. The best thing to do is to have a VPN pre-installed before you cross the border. While governments try to keep people from using VPNs, tech-savvy users come up with ways to bypass restrictions and stay connected. If you live in a country where it’s legal to use a VPN, make sure you compare some well-reviewed VPNs and get the best one. While there are free VPNs out there, it’s hard to trust them. Most free VPNs either provide low service quality or keep track of your data.
Reasons why using free proxies is a bad idea.
As with free VPNs, the operators of an open proxy web server need to recover their costs. They can do this by injecting ads into your traffic or by selling your data to advertisers. Either way, there is no incentive for online proxy sites to keep your browsing fast, secure, and anonymous. A VPN server needs more permissions on the local device than a simple web proxy and as a result, usually requires users to install a separate app. However, to use a proxy, every single application might need to be configured separately, and changing the desired proxy server location might require a complete reconfiguration. Not all proxy servers are malicious by nature, but it can be tough to separate the dangerous from the harmless.
1. Speed Issues
Thousands of people are using the same proxies. In all likelihood, the proxy-relay is choked with connections. Therefore it cannot give you the reliable connectivity you expect. If you're dealing with e-commerce platforms or online streaming websites like Netflix, then you might as well call it a day. What you need are high-quality proxies which are not flooded with free connections.
2. Server Trouble
It is not uncommon for proxies to operate on a single server. This means that each choked proxy is on an overloaded server, which is basically getting strangled by connections. Expect to experience throttled bandwidth when routing your connection through them.
3. Lack of Access to Specific Websites
Many of the free proxies have spammers exploiting them, and frequently they end up on blacklists. This means that even if you just want to do some shopping, you will get blacklisted by the website. When using a very common proxy address, you are likely to fail to connect.
4. The Hackers
Cybersecurity threats are growing like weeds. Nowadays, no one is surprised to hear that several million social security numbers ended up on the Darkweb. Sure, software companies are always trying to patch loopholes, but they're usually one step behind the skilled cybercriminal. Sooner or later you will fall prey to a phishing scam or malware when using a free proxy. In fact, by opening the communication between you and the proxy, you are basically inviting anyone on the other side on to your device. This can result in significant privacy breaches such as keystroke loggers.
5. Breached Privacy
Quite possibly the worst thing is the free personal data that you are delivering to the proxy provider. While you are relaying your connection through the proxy site, they will see all your device information along with whatever you are up to online. It should be evident that this is a critical security compromise.
There is a reason why cyber security experts recommend using only trusted proxies with reliable 'no logging' policies. This means that the company does not observe or record your online activity. At the same time, it will not access your device or record any device particulars. We all need to be more conscious of our online footprints. From casual internet user to business executive, a VPN can make a tremendous difference when it comes to online safety. Make sure you stay protected and secure across all of your devices.