What is a VPN and what does data logging by a VPN means?

what-is-a-vpn-and-what-does-data-logging-by-a-vpn-firm-means

A virtual private network or simply VPN is a service that protects your privacy online. This article explains the concept of VPN and the vest VPNs with the No Claims or Minimum Logs policy in 2022.

What is a VPN?

A virtual private network (VPN) is a service designed specifically to hide your internet activities and identity. A VPN establishes a protected network connection via public networks by encrypting your internet traffic. It hides your online identity making it difficult for third parties and threat actors to track and monitor your online activities.

VPNs have become crucial privacy tools that you must always use when logging onto the internet through a public Wi-Fi network, such as at a hotel lobby, café, shopping mall, or another spot where free public Wi-Fi is offered.

When you log on to the internet with a VPN, it creates a tunnel to hide all your activities, such as the websites you visit, links you click, and the files you download. In a nutshell, a VPN service protects you from the prying eyes of marketing firms, cybercriminals, and government agencies, as they won’t be able to track you online.

What does VPN Offer?

VPNs offer you optimum online privacy and anonymity. It achieves this by converting a public internet connection into a private network. A VPN successfully masks your IP (internet protocol) address so that your online actions become untraceable. And most importantly, it establishes a secure and encrypted connection to offer superior privacy than even the safest Wi-Fi hotspot.

What is a Cloud VPN?

Over the past decade, new Cloud technologies have emerged, and we have witnessed a mobile workforce boom. This shift in technological preferences forced many companies to switch from in-house data centers to the Cloud. 

This trend has gained unprecedented momentum, and according to global market intelligence firm IDC, around 67% of enterprise software and IT infrastructure will become Cloud-based by the end of 2020. Hence, it makes sense that a company would choose to avoid using open source VPN clients to connect its remote workers to the office and opt for VPNs compatible with Cloud technology. That’s where Cloud VPN becomes relevant in the current scenario.

A cloud VPN, also known as a virtual private network as a service or hosted VPN, is a relatively new type of VPN technology designed specifically for the Cloud platform.

A Cloud VPN server makes resources and services available to employees/users through a Cloud platform using the public internet. It allows users to safely access a company’s data, applications, and files in the Cloud via a website, desktop, or mobile app.

Unlike traditional VPNs, for which the end-user needs a dedicated VPN infrastructure of some type, Cloud VPN offers a globally accessible and secure connection. This connection is part of the company’s cloud delivery infrastructure. You can set up Cloud VPNs and deploy them globally within mere minutes.

Benefits of a Cloud VPN

There is a wide range of benefits for businesses and organizations to switching to a Cloud VPN.

Firstly, it enables employees to securely remain connected to the company’s network even when working outside its premises or worldwide. Until recently, employees working remotely had to use a remote VPN to access the services/information from their organization’s servers.

Now that more organizations have moved to the Cloud, workers can access cloud-based data and applications conveniently. This makes an organization’s infrastructure more flexible, agile, and scalable.

A VPN cloud service lets users access private networks anytime and anywhere safely and ensure a solid user experience. Employees, conversely, can access resources/networks in the same way they otherwise would in the physical office.

Why using a VPN at all times is a must?

A VPN can effectively conceal your location and connect you to a remote server so that third parties are unable to locate you online and monitor your browsing activities. It would help if you always relied on a VPN when online, mainly via a public Wi-Fi network. Let’s check out some other benefits of using a VPN at all times.

Privacy and Anonymity

The most crucial benefit of using a VPN is securing your identity online. A VPN prevents websites from tracking you and your browsing data, so external actors cannot monitor the sites you visit or content you download/upload.

Usually, marketing firms discreetly monitor users’ online activities to target them for advertising. It becomes possible through simple moves like searching for a product on Google or discussing something online with a friend. But, with a VPN, no one can keep a check on what you do online, your data is entirely encrypted, and your activities remain private.

Unlimited Global Internet Access

When you connect to the internet using a VPN always, you can access geo-restricted content from across the globe. A VPN connects you to a secure server in your selected location, making you appear as if you are in that country.

If you want to watch HBO Max or Hulu and you aren’t residing in the USA, a VPN will allow you to access them by bypassing the geographic limitations. You will connect to a server-based in the USA, create an American IP address, and be in the US virtually.

Moreover, you can seamlessly switch servers, so accessing an American server to watch HBO Max and changing to a British server to watch BBC iPlayer would not be an issue.

Maximum Security and Protection

A VPN offers greater security to your internet connection so all the data, such as bank details, login credentials, email credentials, photos, etc., remain secure. It automatically encrypts your activities and data since VPNs use military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, so everything stays safe. Even if someone accesses your personal data, they cannot decipher it.

A VPN protects your communications like Zoom meetings and email content while ensuring that your messages remain private and secure. You can also transfer money safely and protect your mobile device.

What does data logging by a VPN firm means?

VPN logs refer to data VPN service providers need to track, and it entails aspects like the usage of their service. But, the kind of data a particular VPN provider logs usually vary regarding what they can store and to what extent they can access your internet activity.

In this regard, you need to check the complete logging agreement of your chosen VPN provider before purchasing the product. Here’s a brief overview of the different types of logs VPN firms can do for your convenience.

Type 1 – Troubleshooting Logs 

These logs are recorded to track users’ issues with the VPN product and may comprise individual details like IP address and username. However, troubleshooting logs are made exclusively to troubleshoot the product-related problems and enhance the VPN’s efficiency.

Type 2 – Connectivity Logs

Some VPN firms impose constraints on their products, such as how long a connection would last or the permitted number of synchronized links. Connection logs allow a service provider to track each session on the VPN and may store your IP address.

Type 3 – Activity Logs (Red Flag)

Please remember that VPN web servers can transmit every bit of the incoming web traffic so service providers can monitor every single internet request sent out or accepted by the user. This means a VPN host can track a user’s internet activities easily while identifying the kind of data they download and install.

Which VPN companies have no data logging policy

The primary reason behind using a VPN is to safeguard your online privacy from your IPS, cybercriminals, snoopers, and the government. However, it is also possible that your VPN service provider logs data without your knowledge and may even try to sell it to third parties.

It’s unfortunate that many VPN vendors do that. That’s why it is essential to select a VPN with a zero-logs policy, which means the VPN provider won’t collect any user data. We know it is difficult for you to read every VPN’s logging policy to figure out which is most trustworthy. So, here are our top picks for VPNs with no logs policy in 2022.

NordVPN

NordVPN is arguably the best VPN around that fulfills almost all requirements you may have such as faster internet, reliable browsing, and data/identity security. NordVPN operates a strict zero-logs policy. Its policy has been audited not once but twice by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which is proof of the policy’s authenticity. The service is legally based in a privacy-friendly country, Panama, which isn’t a member of 14 Eyes- the world’s biggest surveillance agreement. For your information, the member states of 14 Eyes have agreed to share intelligence with each other. Panama isn’t one of them so NordVPN cannot be forced to log and share user data.

Regarding features, NordVPN operates under military-grade AES-256 encryption. That’s an extremely customizable switch offering protection against IP leaks. Moreover, NordVPN comes with additional features that make it truly valuable, such as Onion over VPN. The VPN users NordLynx tunneling protocol. It is a modified version of WireGuard and enhances security beyond doubt. The service accepts anonymous payment methods, including cryptocurrency, so users don’t need to reveal their banking details while signing up. And they can confidently use NordVPN since it doesn’t store sensitive information like user and traffic logs. It also offers dedicated servers for torrenting. However, the only downside to using NordVPN is that it doesn’t come with a router app, and torrenting is supported on a few servers.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN offers an audited and verified zero-logs policy, and its policy has been verified by one of the best auditing firms. Another proof of its policy’s authenticity is that in 2017, its servers were seized by a government to retrieve data but they found that the company logged zero data. Apart from that, ExpressVPN offers advanced security features along with its unique security protocol. It is one of the fastest VPNs currently available in the market and offers optimum privacy protection. You can try it without any hesitation since ExpressVPN offers a thirty-day money-back guarantee. So, if you don’t like it, you can always claim a refund.

ExpressVPN uses AES-256 bit encryption and ensures IP/DNS leak protection. This VPN comprises 3,000 servers located in 94 countries and five simultaneous device connections. If you want to watch geo-locked content on your devices such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, or BBC iPlayer, ExpressVPN is your best bet. It is compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, iOS, smart TVs, routers, and many more devices.

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access (PIA) guarantees to not retain your identifiable logs and its claims were proven in 2016 when the FBI required data from one of its subscribers but they had nothing to share. Russian government once seized some of its servers, still, they couldn’t find anything worth exploiting.

PIA owns 29,650 RAM-based servers. The best thing is that all the servers are owned by the company and most VPNs rent portions of its servers. Owning the servers is important as it eliminates the probability of any middleman trying to compromise the server. Furthermore, RAM-based servers are better because they can delete anonymized data pretty conveniently. And when tested on twenty different servers, PIA didn’t reveal user IP due to its IP/DNS leak protection. The VPN comes with many important features to help users access torrents safely such as SOCKS5 and Shadowsocks proxies access and port forwarding from a double VPN connection. this VPN features AES-256 Bit encryption, MACE (malware, adware, and tracker blocker), and a kill switch. Its servers are located in 83 countries and offer blazing fast speeds. It is also compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, smart TVs, routers, etc., and offers ten simultaneous device connections.

Surfshark

If super-fast VPN and maximum security are your primary concerns, choose SurfShark. It comes with a strict zero-logs policy. The company is based in a region boasting rigorous data private laws- the British Virgin Islands. Furthermore, SurfShark is one of the securest VPNs out there. It offers AES-256 bit encryption with a kill switch, DNS-leak protection, and Camoflague mode. It boasts RAM-based servers only, so you can be sure that your data won’t be stored after the first reboot.

SurfShark uses Shadowsocks, OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2(IPsec) protocols and also accepts anonymous payment methods. It has over 3,000 servers in 65 countries and features an exclusive NoBorder Mode that bypasses location restrictions such as the Great Firewall of China. This feature makes it ideal for streaming international, geo-blocked content. Another great feature of SurfShark is that it offers unlimited simultaneous connections, making it ideal for the entire family. It is compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, iOS, and FireTV.

PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN has a strict no-logs policy and it doesn’t keep anonymized logs of the user as well. PrivateVPN retains the bare minimum amount of information that it mandatorily needs such as email ID and payment details for processing purchases. However, to make it even more risk-free you can pay with cryptocurrency and create a new email to ensure maximum anonymity. Its obfuscation technology is Stealth VPN, which hides your VPN usage and offers enhanced privacy and protection since you can use PrivateVPN on restricted networks too. You may also use it for streaming geo-blocked content and safe torrenting. With its port forwarding feature, you can download software faster.

When tested on twenty different servers using its default OpenVPN UDP protocol, PrivateVPN passed all the leak tests, indicating that it offers solid leak protection. The VPN uses AES-256 bit encryption and comes with a kill switch and many advanced security features. It has 200 servers across 63 countries to offer fast internet speed and allows ten simultaneous device connections.

Why one should never use a free VPN?

In 2019, around 480.1 million individual users and businesses installed a VPN to secure their networks and devices. That’s proof of the effectiveness of VPNs regarding user privacy and data security. But the problem arises when people turn to free VPN services. Hundreds of free VPN services are currently available online and naturally, users find them more attractive than paid VPN services. However, that’s where you are making a grave mistake.

Free VPNs usually have a hidden cost that might be just as high as not having a VPN because a majority of free services offer a false sense of security. This means you won’t actually be protected online and might even be exposing yourself to additional risks. Let’s not forget that technology costs money.  There are many hidden dangers of using a free VPN, such as the following.

Biggest hidden dangers of Free VPNs

Let’s not forget the famous proverb- if you’re not paying for a service, then perhaps you are the product. Keeping this in mind let’s check out some of the hidden dangers you may be getting exposed to due to free VPNs.

Malware and Virus Infections

 A recent study suggested that 38% of free mobile VPNs the researchers tested contained malware. Though some of the infections weren’t inherently dangerous it does violate Google Play and Apple App Store’s privacy policies as the VPNs were found guilty of tracking user activity. The tested VPNs could monitor how the user interacted with different apps and platforms. So, the risk of malware infection is always there with a free VPN. Proofpoint researchers once identified the DanaBot malware strain that was distributed via pirated software keys. The victims were tricked into downloading malicious software disguised as VPN, anti-virus software, and online games.

So, the question arises, can you give up privacy to save a few bucks?

Logging and Tracking That Exposes Your Data

Let’s not forget that a majority of logging policies are akin to providing your browsing history to someone. Around 75% of free VPNs come tracking feature that’s builtin into their source code.  even those VPN firms that guarantee a no-logging policy would still retain and sell some of your information to third parties. Or else, they can provide your identity, geo-location, and online activities to government agencies.

Ads….

We bet you won’t like irritating banner ads and pop-ups gracing your device’s screen every few minutes. If you don’t, you aren’t alone as most of us dislike using a product that exposes us to annoying marketing gimmicks. But, when you use a free VPN, you will most definitely get more ads on your screen than you normally would. Try to understand- there are no such things as a free service. the vendor would make money from other ways to keep offering free products. Usually, it is through installing adware or sharing data with agencies.

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