How to Identify a Bad VPN

You may use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) because it offers enhanced security features or because it can give you access to sites that would usually be blocked. Whatever your reason, use a VPN because it offers you a variety of useful options.

Sure, you may suspect that it could have its drawbacks, but you might not think that it’s something to worry about. Actually, if you’re not careful and choose the wrong VPN, you could be sharing more information than you’d like. Discover how you can spot a bad VPN and stay safe online.

vpn-false-claims

Every VPN will brag about everything it has to offer its users, but if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. A VPN could be the world’s fastest in some areas, so that could be true in a way.

When a VPN claims that it can unblock every site it comes across, or it uses logos of known streaming services making you think you can easily access it when it doesn’t clearly state it, you know you have to be careful. Take note if you come across a VPN that claims that it can protect you from all kinds of online threats or that it can make your Internet connection four times faster.

The idea behind a VPN is for you to feel secure and give you another IP address. A bad VPN won’t change your IP and will also be leaking your information to the world as well.

To see if your VPN is working properly, go to What Is My IP Address and take note of what your IP address is without the VPN on. Once you have your IP address, turn on the VPN and refresh the IP address site. If you see the IP address you wrote down without the VPN on, then it’s time to get rid of that VPN.

vpn-vague

A company that has nothing to hide will give you as much information about themselves as possible. A site that has a VPN you can trust will have a dedicated page where you can read up on at least the basic information about the company.

A bad VPN will have very little or no information on the creators of the VPN. A red flag will be that they won’t even have a site so you can get customer support. You also won’t be able to count on any info that will help you fix any issues you might be having with the VPN.

vpn-red-flag

If you see that a VPN is asking for way too much information to sign up, it’s best to find another one. The less info you have to give about yourself the better.

A lousy VPN will also have a short or very hard to follow Privacy Policy. A bad VPN will obviously not care about keeping your information safe and might even leak your real IP. With these types of VPNs, you are most likely to not see any kind of protection from IP leaks. It’s a good idea to make sure this is a feature they mention on their spec list.

If the VPN you’re using doesn’t have a kill switch, then it’s time to uninstall it. You should be in control of when you use the VPN and when you don’t.

A bad VPN will only have universal benefits and won’t even give any info on the countries it covers or the protocols it supports. A reliable VPN will bombard you with all the great features it has to offer.

Just because you found the VPN in a Google search doesn’t mean that you should blindly install it without doing your homework. Do as much research as you can on the VPN you’re thinking of using to stay safe and always read what others who have used it have to say about it. What do you look for in a VPN? Share your thoughts in the comments.

10 comments

  1. The best is to build your own VPN on a VPS like Vultr. It’s not very difficult and one can find tutorials via Googl.

    • Country of origin and their severs locations have a great deal to do with finding a Good VPN.
      There’s a pretty good break down of VPN Providers found here (if you choose and load the whole list it will take a little bit time)-
      https://thatoneprivacysite.net/vpn-comparison-chart/
      it tells a lot of important information to look for and of the VPN’s in general, that it has covered.

      Then it’s important as the reality of fact that many VPN providers are based in countries where they are legally required to log user information. Under the pretense of combatting international terrorism and organized crime, law enforcement agencies throughout the world are pushing for invasive laws that force internet and telecom companies to continuously collect and store records that document the online activities of millions of ordinary users.

      Countries like the UK, Canada and Australia make it compulsory for net-based companies including VPNs to log certain personal data for a time period. Some highlights about data retention laws in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia are:

      DRIP (The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that received Royal Assent on 17 July 2014. The purpose of DRIP Act is to allow security services to continue to have access to phone and internet records of individuals.

      At the beginning of October 13 2015, every phone call, text message and email will be tracked by the government under a new metadata retention law in Australia. Essentially all law enforcement and security agencies, including local police, all the way up to the Australian Federal Police and ASIO, will have access to this information.

      Canada has a range of mandatory data retention laws. There are several Acts like Bill C-30 (the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act) and Bill C-11 (The Copyright Modernization act) which limit online privacy. Canada’s Copyright Act, came into force in November 2012 and forces ISPs to keep logs, which must be handed over to copyright enforcers on demand.

      The United States doesn’t have mandatory Data Retention Laws, but all internet companies including VPN providers are bound to monitor and store users’ log according to the Stored Communications Act. All companies are required to then hand these over on receipt of a court order from a law enforcement agency.
      In addition to this, any legal prosecutor or investigator can ask any VPN provider to spy on any of their individual users and keep a record of his/her online activities and credit card details for 90 or more days. And, if the National Security issues a letter under the Patriot Act, the provider is forbidden to inform the users that they are being watched.
      The FBI can collect any information from any U.S. based company by means of National Security Letter (NSL)

      PROTECT Yourselves as 95% of VPN providers claim that they don’t store any user logs.
      One of the ways that you can identify whether a VPN is storing logs or not is by looking at where they are based, and which laws they have to abide by. Do not sign up for any VPN until you have read their privacy policy completely. If they do not state their location or data logging policy on their website, then you should contact the vendor and request this information.

      Regardless of your reasons for wanting more privacy in security online, the lesson to be learned is simple: Before choosing your VPN, you should carefully check where the provider is based, and that this country has high levels of internet freedom, and does not have data retention laws. If you choose not to follow this advice, then you should accept that your online information is most likely vulnerable to snooping eyes.

      When searching for a “safe” VPN service, users should search for a company that is not based in a country with mandatory data retention laws. The top five countries for ensuring your VPN is not logging data are:
      Malaysia
      Switzerland
      Hong Kong
      Sweden
      Romania
      The five “safe” countries outlined above have been highlighted for a number of reasons. They have high levels of internet freedom, there are no data retention laws and these countries are not part of the international surveillance agencies partnership known as “five eyes”.

      The last best thing to look for in a VPN Provider in an in-house DNS service they run through their servers, as that’s a privacy risk when using any public, web, and international ones.
      Please don’t use a browser extension type of VPN as it’s only covering your browser traffic, and as browsers and extensions all can see your web travels to every site you go too.
      Install a decent VPN client into your OS to cover all the traffic leaving your computer.

      Hope this helps and gives some type of action for you to understand and take.

    • “why keep it a secret”
      Because of legal reasons. The author and MTE can be sued for slander, libel, defamation of character, etc. In today’s litigious society if someone does not like what you say about them, they will take you to court in a flash. You may eventually win but it is not worth the hassle.

      • You can’t be sued if you only state the facts that backup your story.
        That is of course if you actually have FACTS.
        Or is this another “Well, I think it is true” story.

        • “You can’t be sued if you only state the facts that backup your story.”
          Hmmmm. It all depends on how the FACTS are interpreted. The devil is in the details. The lawyers for both sides, especially in civil cases, do not try to arrive at THE TRUTH. Their job is to make sure THEIR client wins. They try to convince the jury or the judge that their version of the story is the more believable one. If the lawyers for a “bad VPN’ can show that this article caused their client to lose money and/or subscribers, Fabio is in deep doodoo. Even if the suit is groundless, proving it will probably be expensive.

          How many suits have been filed against the tobacco companies for causing cancer in smokers? In many cases the plaintiffs had facts on their side but the tobacco companies still won. OTOH, in other cases the plaintiff unquestionably knew about the dangers of smoking but chose to smoke for decades and, consequently, got cancer. The plaintiff sued the tobacco companies and even though the facts clearly showed the cancer was his fault, he won a multi-million dollar judgement.

          Yes, I too would like to know which are the “bad” VPNs but I understand why Fabio is reluctant to name them.

    • Part 1 @Richard
      POSTED THIS and it was rejected or omitted, so I’ve edited it now.

      Location of a VPN Providers headquarters and their servers listed locations leads to the reality that many VPN providers are based in countries where they are legally required to log user information. Under the pretense of combatting international terrorism and organized crime. So governments and law enforcement agencies throughout the world are pushing for invasive laws that force internet and telecom companies to continuously collect and store records that documents the online activities of millions of ordinary web users.

      Countries like the UK, Canada and Australia make it compulsory for net-based companies including VPNs to log certain personal data for a time period.
      The United States doesn’t have mandatory Data Retention Laws, but all internet companies including VPN providers are bound to monitor and store users logs according to the Stored Communications Act, which companies are required to then hand these over on receipt of a court order from a law enforcement agency.
      The FBI can collect any information from any U.S. based company by means of National Security Letter (NSL).
      In addition to this, any legal prosecutor or investigator can ask any VPN provider to spy on any of their individual users and keep a record of his/her online activities and credit card details for 90 or more days. And, if the National Security Agency issues a letter under the Patriot Act, the service provider is forbidden to inform the users that they are being watched.

      Hence, the term Warrant Canary which good VPN’s post timely as monthly or quarterly notifications for their users. A warrant canary is a method by which a VPN provider aims to inform its users base that it has not been served with a secret government subpoena in a certain amount of passed time.

      Most any VPN’s review site’s I’ve come upon are click-bait or click-through to making a percentage of your purchase, or at the least being sponsored by the few they’ve given any reviews of. So the real facts lie in the VPN’s own self forums and it’s users community to get a factual truth of that VPN.

  2. Part 2 @Richard
    Some points to consider and remember:
    1. Your moving your trust from your own ISP to a VPN service – (connection speed will most likely suffer).

    2. A Country where a VPN is Headquartered, (specifically related to privacy laws), and their located Servers through the world.
    a. Do they maintain their own Encrypted Servers with their own Staffed Personnel or indeed have leased out a server from a data center in that country.
    b. Bottom-line in how these 2 & (a) will affect your privacy.

    3. How you’d buy and pay for it (Yearly and Anonymously) – many even take alternate payment methods, bitcoins, some offer the taking of merchants gift cards to that you can buy with cash.
    a. Even an email to signup with a VPN can be linked back to you, besides using your credit cards.
    b. Use some discretion, if your wanting them to be as discreet in respecting your privacy that would led to yourself being somewhat anonymous to them.
    c. Not forgetting your IP address is being recorded when you purchase a plan – or even in just visiting the VPN site. So cloaking all forms of yourself to become somewhat anonymous – if that’s your purpose they not know about you and then pass it on.

    4. Bottom Line: Do read the Privacy Policy and TOS before choosing and purchasing a VPN.

    Search for “Which VPN Services Keep You Anonymous” by TF, (updated in the Spring time of the new year).
    Then use the “Detailed VPN Comparison Chart” by the thatoneprivacysite for further weeding out of VPN providers.

    Hope this helps and keeps you safe with a good VPN.

  3. Conclusion @Richard
    I’ve addressed this to you in my responses but, it can help anyone wanting to understand there is not any particular Good and Bad VPN’s – just what one is understanding of them over the others offered.

    Aside from the other two sites, and I’ve use and for a 3 prong approach, I look at
    https://www.bestvpn.com/
    Their claim is to offer impartial reviews of 100+ VPN providers, expert comparisons, guides & advice.

    I’ve use their “Guides and Reviews” tab >reviews>all reviews>VPN(name)>read review, to learning specifics on certain VPN’s as I’ve narrowed my list down to and in considering using.

    Taking note of any of the following:
    History, Money back policy, Simultaneous connections, P2P, Servers and Countries offered, Device platforms, Encryption and Security levels used, Client and features, Support methods, Trial periods, Performance tests, Screenshots, Users comments-(bottom of page).

    Although, this site is set-up as a click-through site it does cover a lot of facts (that can become outdated / check the reviews date) but, overall covers many points.

    One bad thing about the sites reviews is, it covers (Free and Paid) as well as just Proxy services and puts them all in an order of their score – as “they” have scored them. Since the reviews are written by different writers. So a mixed bag of information’s to interpret, and why I’ve always had my list of narrowed down VPN’s to research on it before hand.
    The good thing all writers seen to follow a template of the laid out information’s in a review given there.

  4. good information and thanks for providing supporting facts of evidence. Nice to see information that is validated with substance instead of empty opinions of hot air.

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