Since Virtual Private Networks or VPNs have been widely used to keep anonymous online, hide IP address and bypass blocked websites or restricted content, they are also questioned for their reliability. Plus, July 2020 saw a report on 7 VPNs that leak data belonging to 20 million users, which also arouses people’s doubt on VPN security.
Then, can we still trust VPNs? Here’s what’s to be discussed in this article.
Can I be Tracked if I Use a VPN?
- Can VPN be tracked?
- Can it be known I’m using a VPN?
- Can my online activities be seen?
- What information about me is available to others?
It’s hard to say and a little complicated, actually.
As you use a VPN, your IP address can’t be used to recognize you since a VPN is capable of hiding your IP address. However, it doesn’t mean your VPN traffic is immune to tracking. Your VPN traffic can be tracked through the following tunnels:
The IP Address of VPN
The IP address provided by VPN is a virtual one that isn’t difficult to be recognized. There are even databases indicating which IP addresses belong to which provider. When you visit a website with a VPN on, your action of using a VPN will be instantly recognized through your virtual IP address. Don’t worry, though. They only know you’re using a VPN while they fail to reach anything about YOU.
Some VPN protocols establish connections based on the specific port numbers that can be easily recognized. For example, the port number usually used for OpenVPN (UDP) is 1194, and OpenVPN (TCP) 443 and once it gets checked, the specific VPN protocol will be instantly known.
Deep Packet Inspection
Deep Packet Inspection, also called DPI, refers to a process during which each packet is examined. It contains a lot of applications, such as blocking spam emails or malware. Nevertheless, it can be used to recognize VPN traffic. It’s the Chinese government that shields VPN traffic through DPI.
Can My ISP Block the VPN that I’m Using?
Unfortunately, your ISP is capable of tracking your VPN connection and they can see the following content of yours online:
- Connection Source (Your IP Address)
- Connection Target (VPN Server IP Address)
- Time Duration with VPN On
- Data Amount You Transmit to VPN Server
- The Port You Use for Connection
- Can My VPN Really Hide My Visited Websites?
In one word, your ISPs are able to see that you’re using a VPN but they can hardly block the VPN you’re using.
However, your VPN will be perhaps blocked by websites or applications. For example, it usually occurs that VPNs may be blocked by Netflix that strives to protect their streaming catalogs. However, there are still VPNs that are capable of beating the Netflix VPN ban and they still work.
Can My VPN Really Hide My Browsing History?
A traditional VPN is able to hide your browsing history on Google to some extent. With a traditional VPN connection, you can still be recognized when entering searching keywords. Google features a search engine and collects all searching history so that your searching history is transparent and can be used to link to your identity.
As long as you’ve registered a Google account and login it when using, your VPN won’t mask your practical identity if it’s a centralized one. Therefore, it’s a good idea to logout your Google account to hide your browsing history on it.
Moreover, complicated detecting algorithm and monitoring technology are used by Google to recognize searchers, which is why a traditional VPN can only partially hide your browsing history.
Can My VPN Really Make My IP Anonymous?
That depends on your anonymity level and what type of VPN you’re using. If you’re using a decentralized VPN instead of centralized VPN, the answer is absolutely YES!
No matter a centralized or decentralized VPN, it’s equivalently difficult to keep 100% anonymous online because there are so many methods or tunnels to expose your identity and geological location.
Your IP may fail to be kept anonymous mainly because of your ISP, government surveillance, websites, social platforms, browsers, your mobile service provider, etc.
Does My VPN Hide Me from the Government?
Does my VPN hide me from the government? Or can I be tracked by the government through the VPN I’m using?
The federal government wouldn’t spend time tracking ordinary people’s online activities all day. However, if some behaviors against laws are found, the federal government will ask for their online logs through ISPs. If the ISPs test a VPN is used, the government will go for the VPN service provider for the logs of users’ online activities.
So, even though some VPN service providers claim they never log users’ data, it’s still unreliable because you know your data is absolutely in their hands. It’s hard to estimate whether your data will be leaked. After all, all users’ data are kept in the centralized server. If it gets hacked, all the data will be leaked.
The optimal solution to data leak lies in decentralized VPN that scatters your data to different nodes on the way from your device to the target. Each node on the way carries your partial data and even if one node gets hacked, it’s difficult to decode the data due to encryption. Even if it gets decrypted, you only get your partial data lost while the majority are still safe.
Finally, does Use a VPN Really Protect You?
Yes, as long as a decentralized VPN is used.
BitVPN is a truly decentralized VPN, covering the following advantages:
- P2P Mesh Network
- Strict No Logs
- Blockchain Based
- Encrypt Your Data and Protect Your Privacy
- Impossible Data Scrambling
- Truly Anonymous Online
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