Ever since the Facebook data leak fiasco collection of personal information has become a major concern for all internet users. Though Facebook, Google, YouTube and other major service providers online have updated their policies and offered us a more transparent look on the type of information they gather, people are still afraid that their personal info might be threatened. They’re afraid that all it takes is one dedicated group of hackers to get their hands on all that sensitive data, and the whole world will go up in flames. Luckily, this isn’t exactly the case, and the information most companies collect isn’t so sensitive that the thieves can effectively steal your identity.
However, if you’re still concerned about your privacy, and you’re adamant to stay anonymous, then what you need is a VPN. Virtual private networks serve to hide your online footprint and to ensure your anonymity – and the best ones are those that don’t keep any logs.
What Do VPNs Hide?
As we said, VPNs are there to keep your identity online a secret, but what do they hide exactly? What sort of information are they obscuring to make it look like you were never there?
The first answer is, your IP. The first task of a VPN service is to hide your IP address. Anything you do online can be tracked down through your IP address. On top of that, Google, Facebook, YouTube and even your provider, use your IP to personalise the content you see on the web by tracking what websites you visit and what you generally do online. Now, this is mostly safe, but, if a hacker were to try and steal your identity, then they would most certainly try and do so by stealing or forging your IP, making it look like illegal activity is coming from your computer. Thankfully, all VPNs use “tunnelling” protocols that hide your IP from anyone that might be looking for you online.
VPNs also hide your geographic location. This allows you to bypass the regional blocks and access content that’s not available in your country or region. This means that living in China you can access content in the US that’s censored or blocked. Unfortunately, the Chinese also view the VPNs as borderline illegal.
Finally, VPNs hide your browsing. From the websites you regularly visit, to those you visit only once, the ISPs and Google can see what you’re doing and personalise your online experience. However, if you would like to get rid of the ads that arise from this type of monitoring, and if you’d like to keep your website visits a secret, then using a VPN is your best bet.
No Log VPNs
A VPN certainly hides your presence from prying eyes of big companies and ISPs, but does it hide your presence from itself? Well, the answer is a bit ambiguous – some do, some don’t.
You see, despite hiding you from the outside world, VPNs also keep logs on the usage of their service. These logs are private and company property – however, the VPN provider will, undoubtedly, turn them over to the authorities if requested. And that is why most people turn to zero log VPNs.
With that being said, there are no true no-log VPNs. So if you are new to VPNs, we suggest that you check this great collection of free VPNs to try one before making the final decision. All in all, VPN service providers keep some kind of logs, as, without them, they wouldn’t be able to complete DNS server requests or fix any issues with your connection. And though keeping these logs is used strictly for maintenance, troubleshooting and operational reasons, they still present some form of sensitive data that the service provider might have to give up under pressure. However, such data being personal and private, the company can only give it up if the law demands it, and is certain to keep it as safe and secure as possible.
All in all, VPNs are safe and secure ways of browsing the internet and your identity will be kept, at least, for the most part, a secret. However, you must always be wary that you will never be completely anonymous –VPNs aren’t there to completely hide you from the world (which would actually be completely illegal), but to ensure as much safety as possible to your person and your identity while you’re surfing the web.