Virtual Private Networks are closed private networks that channel information between end points. They are one of the steps in ensuring online privacy and security. Different to the standard Internet connection which is a public network connection, they are private and closed systems.
Many people have used VPN’s for various reasons. From pretending to be in another country so that you can watch Netflix with more content and circumvent their geo-block ban, to utilising the service just for the privacy and anonymity involved. The increased security which comes from the encrypted closed nature of the network is just another reason to use the network.
Security activists and researchers list VPN’s as essential for safety online. They have multiple abilities besides their primary one which is hiding a user’s identity behind a series of proxy servers enabling the user to be seen on an IP address in a different location. They are also efficient in prevention of “Man in the Middle” attacks which prevent a third party from entering between the two end points and compromising everything.
An example is if you are on a public network, and you send an email to your friend, a third party could come in between you and your friend, intercept the email and, therefore, put your privacy at risk. This might be disastrous depending on the sensitivity and confidentiality of the information being sent and intercepted. This usually happens on public networks which people connect to in cafes, at airports and other public hotspot areas.
This is why buying a VPN is highly recommended for everyone.
However the real question is which VPN service provider should you buy from? A simple search on Google will bring an extensive list of content; some sponsored some just lucky to be on the front page. Each has their pros and cons depending on your need. It makes the decision harder to choose which one to use.
Fortunately, a hacktivist going by the alias, ThatOnePrivacyGuy, put out an extensive and lengthy spreadsheet which gives out his research on one hundred and twenty-three different services. There is no ranking per se, but he does detail everything on the list with things such as, if the company keeps information about their users, the kind of encryption they use and costs and many other variables.
He posted the list online and in his help segment, he mentions that the list came when he wanted to look for a VPN himself. He kept updating the list because, “Between aggressive affiliate promotion, lazy policies, and many biased reviews, I have come to realize that industry is a bit of a mess and that I could do some good untangling the knots with my data,” he said. “I am trying to keep these companies accountable and present the data in a clear and unbiased way for potential customers – which I don’t feel I had the luxury of when I started researching.”
Sagi Gidali, Founder of one of the companies on the list, SaferVPN, said that the list was a good overview of the majority of big VPN’s on the market but was not 100 percent accurate. He explains that when choosing a VPN there are some qualities you should not overlook. “I would suggest to always checking the privacy terms of service that they don’t save the cookies or log your data. Look to see what kind of data they inspect and hold on to”
A VPN that was harder for a hacker to attack is what a user needs and that’s what VPN providers should be aspiring for.
Image credit: ThatOnePrivacyGuy / CC