One of the biggest things that people want to know when it comes to a VPN is what the provider is able to see. Depending on what they are doing, they might be nervous about someone seeing their activities. So, I set out to look and find out what VPN providers can see.
What can a VPN provider see? Depending on the VPN provider chosen it may be possible for the provider to see all the history and traffic of their users. Reputable VPN providers will most likely decide to discard this information and put it to a null folder or file. These are the companies that say they don’t log.
However, more of the companies say that they protect your privacy, which means that they aren’t holding any records of what you’re doing online, either for the third parties or themselves. However, there is an exception to this, which is that they store your information regarding your subscription and purchase.
What is stored will depend on the company. However, the most common items are the address, password, name, your valid email, and the information about your credit card. There are some that even take it further by letting you pay with things like Bitcoin.
However, it’s important to be cautious when you are dealing with a company that has no-log options, since it’s really a quite grey area. There’s countries with legislation that require the companies to store up the logs for a certain amount of time (check out my list of reputable VPNs here).
So even though they may claim to be no-log, it’s not always the case. Australia, for instance, requires a period of two years. It’s similar in the North America continent, which we saw in the fight between the FBI and Apple. So, although they claim to be no-log, you shouldn’t assume that is true.
Now that we know a bit about whether or not the VPNs can see what you are doing, we’re going to look a bit deeper and see what they may be able to see and what they can’t see.
Can a VPN provider see my data?
A VPN provider can if they wanted to, see the websites and internet services you access by logging all your visits. However many reputable VPN providers choose not to do this as they adopt a no-log policy. Where they don’t keep any logs of the date and times aswell as websites visited.
Another issue is if the VPN can see your data, what are they doing with the data that they see? In general, when you are paying for your VPN service, you don’t have to worry about them selling your information to third parties because they don’t keep logs. But with the free VPNs, they can sell your data habits onto third parties.
The reason why the reputable paid for VPNs don’t keep logs and therefore don’t sell your data is because they’d rather keep you as a customer by keeping you happy than selling your information and taking the chance that you are going to leave them.
This is a big difference than the free VPNs. A free VPN doesn’t rely on the money paid for by their customers to pay its bills. That’s why the free VPNs have advertisements all over the place and even sometimes sell your information to third parties.
So, think of it this way. Would you rather pay a small monthly amount to a VPN who doesn’t keep logs and will keep on protecting you and giving you better service than a free VPN?
Or would you rather take your chances with a free VPN and possibly have issues with malware, being inundated with tons of ads and possibly having your information sold to third parties? When you put it that way, chances are good that small VPN is the better choice.
Now that we have established that, yes, a VPN can see your data when they decide to keep logs, we’re going to look at the next concern – passwords.
Can a VPN provider see my passwords?
A VPN provider won’t be able to see passwords when website connections are made using the HTTPS protocol. As doing so instead of the standard HTTP, encrypts the connection from your web browser to the website you are visiting. Making it very difficult for the VPN to break the connection and be able to see the information being sent.
One thing that you should know about VPNs is that they play the same role that an Internet Service Provider (ISP) does, in a way. That means that a VPN is able to see the things that the ISP see, such as download files, websites that you have visited and more.
However, your ISP isn’t able to see traffic that is SSL-encrypted, like passwords and usernames, that are submitted to HTTPS websites. That means a VPN is unable to see them as well. So, be assured in the that a VPN isn’t able to break SSL-encryption magically, although they can see the majority of what you do online.
Even though a VPN can’t see passwords, you still can put yourself at risk if you are using a less than honest service, such as a free one. Just like there are good and bad service providers for just about anything, a bad VPN might trick you. Sometimes they’ll get you to accept false SSL certificates or they could run malware, capable of grabbing passwords as you type them in.
However, this rarely happens. You can easily avoid this happening to you, too. You don’t want to use unknown services, you also don’t want to use a free VPN provider, and you want to do some research about the one you are considering before choosing one.
Read up on the VPNs policies to find out what they are and it’s also a good idea to read reviews to find out what other people have said about them. The more that you know about the VPN, the better off you will be and the better protected you’ll be as well.
The final thing we are going to look at is whether or not you can trust your VPN. After all, any service that you use you want to be able to trust them, especially when it comes to your data.
Can VPN Providers be Trusted?
VPN providers can only be trusted as far as them offering the service they are advertising. They may have policies in place and have third party audits to validate they are trustworthy. Generally the paid for VPNs seem to be more trustworthy than the free VPNS. VPN providers may also list the times they have rejected government and other agencies requests for information.
When it comes to the issue of trust and possibly trusting a VPN, the answer isn’t as black and white as we’d like it to be. Let’s put it this way – some of the VPN providers are going to be more trustworthy than others.
One thing to remember is that the VPNs that are free aren’t going to be as trustworthy as the ones that you pay for. The reason for this is because a free VPN doesn’t have anything to lose if you don’t keep using them, since they don’t get any money from you directly.
Even if you have only used them for a short time, there’s a good chance that they’ve given your information to third parties and been paid for it.
On the other hand, if you pay for a VPN service, that service is going to do everything that they can to hold onto you. You are paying for the service, so they aren’t going to risk losing a customer. They won’t have the advertisements that the free VPNs have, and they won’t sell your information to the third parties.
Another thing to consider is what their logging policy is. To be able to trust your VPN, you want to find one that isn’t holding onto your data. It’s essential to look and see what they do and read all of the fine print so that you know what to expect. Again, free VPNs are more likely to log you than the paid VPNs.
These are the things that you should consider when you are looking for a VPN. Not all of them are going to be trustworthy. But if you want one that you can count on, one that you pay for will be better than a free one.