VPN Articles and News

Can A VPN Be Traced?

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

In the last few years, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have become the preferred medium for netizens to safeguard their privacy and anonymity on the web. Whether one wants to bypass the censorship measures used by organizations and governments; evade snooping or hacking activities carried out by the federal agencies or the hackers or simply unlock content that is not available due to geographical restrictions; VPNs play an important role in all these scenarios nowadays. But just how secure are the VPNs and can they really be trusted to deliver bulletproof level of privacy and anonymity on the internet? Read this informative article to get answers to these questions.

As you might be already aware, VPNs encrypt your traffic and create a secure tunnel between your device and the internet. This means all the traffic travelling between your device to the VPN server gets obfuscated and becomes unreadable for the ISP as well as others who might be interested in monitoring such traffic. However, it is to be noted that the traffic is not encrypted between the VPN exit node and the destination website chosen by you. This means law enforcement agencies can monitor requests originating from the VPN servers (which might have been made by you) to other websites though they don’t have any way to trace them back to you (at least not yet).

It is here that the logging policy of your VPN service provider comes into play. A lot of VPN companies (even the ones that claim otherwise) log details such as bandwidth, timestamp and IP addresses of their users. While logging of bandwidth and traffic patterns is acceptable to an extent, capturing of IP addresses is not since it can disclose the real identities of the users who are connected to the network. If the logging policy of a VPN service provider is not clear, do not hesitate to contact the support staff and ask whether they capture any personally identifiable information from their users.

Apart from capturing IP addresses, many service providers ask you to furnish your real personal details including name, email address and even address while subscribing to the service. This can again have a negative impact on your privacy since the service provider can furnish this information to the law enforcement agencies if the need arises. The best way to protect your privacy is to choose a VPN service provider which do not ask for your personal details during signup and even allows you to pay via cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins.

It must be said here that even if you subscribe to a privacy friendly VPN service, it is possible that your online activities might be traced back to you. In the last 2-3 years, several network specific vulnerabilities such as WebRTC leak, IPv6 leak and DNS leak have been discovered which have impacted privacy offered by VPN services. Also, your IP address might be leaked by accidental disconnections, cookies, lack of kill-switch and posting of GPS embedded information on social sites even if you are using a VPN service. So while subscribing to a privacy friendly VPN service is definitely recommended, it must be said that VPNs by themselves cannot guarantee 100% privacy and anonymity on the web.

May 23, 2017

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