A lot of people have heard of Virtual Private Network technology, but it is very important to inform oneself about the dangers of entering the VPN realm. This is simply because fraudulent VPN software does exist, which also rings true for any other software out there too. However, a VPN operates at the most sensitive point in the communication chain which is the source of the internet connection itself. This is why choosing a good VPN is such a big deal.
As innocuous as it may seem to use a network security software product such as a VPN, there are plenty of mistakes to be made if one is reckless e.g. downloading a cracked VPN. After all, a VPN is unlike an antivirus, antimalware, or firewall program in that the user is entrusting all of their internet traffic data to a company, essentially.
Looking back, not a lot of time has passed at all since the inception of the commercial VPN that is readily available for the public. Although the technology has its roots in ancient Microsoft PPTP tunnelling technology, like everything else in the tech world, good things tend to stick around and evolve with the times.
It has been about a decade or so since VPNs became a popular item on the home computer and even on smartphones. With concerns about internet surveillance by the government, hackers (cybercrime), and censorship the humble VPN has been in high demand for about a decade now.
A large portion of users also reports that risky public WiFi and work-related reasons are why they use VPNs. Now that we live in a technologically converged world, VPN users also like to unblock their digital streaming while travelling and find lower prices with VPNs. Adding yet another benefit to the list, VPN use leads to the ability to boost marketing for organizations. VPNs are like a multi-purpose Swiss army knife if used correctly.
As far as who the main players are, big VPN names like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, among others, came around in just around 2010. Others, like PIA (Private Internet Access), have been around even before that and are still around today. But, not all of them are around or great anymore.
Those who have managed to incorporate good marketing and a brand presence for themselves are very successful nowadays, raking in big profits and millions of users. For this reason, the VPN market is a hefty multi-billion dollar industry today.
The popularity of the VPN is especially apparent since the beginning of the pandemic around 2019, where usage skyrocketed manyfold. In the USA alone, there are over 150 million VPN users. As far as the world at large is concerned, it is estimated that over 30% of all internet users currently access the internet via a VPN. That would be over two billion users.
Where to Be Careful When it Comes to a VPN
Depending on what a user uses a VPN for, the scenario can either be dodgy or completely healthy and safe. When it comes to regular browsing, business use, and regular downloading, using a VPN is a proper way to boost online privacy, keep malware away and stop unlawful tracking.
However, unfortunately, many users will leverage VPN technology for malicious or illegal purposes. At the end of the day, users see a VPN as a cloak, a place to hide, and malicious or illicit individuals will naturally tend to use the technology e.g. for clandestine, illegal, illicit, and criminal purposes.
Several scandals have revealed that VPN providers often do hold user browsing records even if their policy promises no logging of any data. This has been proven countless times when certain individuals’ records have been revealed to authorities resulting in prison sentences for the accused.
Another point to consider is that not all VPNs are legitimate, which goes for all software nowadays. A simple online search for VPNs will bring up so many dizzying options that it is almost impossible to choose which VPN software to install. The truth is, a large portion of VPN software found online and on app stores is not something that a user should use, at all.
Unfortunately, third-party illegitimate VPNs do exist and are malicious. Likewise, downloading any free VPN seldom guarantees good quality service, user experience, or safety for that matter.
Which VPN is Right?
Thankfully, the internet is chock full of great resources if one looks hard enough. There are established VPN brands out there that comply with strict professional standards, value their customers, and offer a high-quality service, as the saying goes: “It does what it says on the box.” Some services have even proven, through security audits, to genuinely not log customer browsing data.
Just like with anything else, it is first important to seek out expert opinions, read around forums and look for good reviews when it comes to VPNs. When looking for a quality VPN, it is important to understand that a fee will have to be paid to get that peace of mind. For instance, high-quality brands like NordVPN, ExpressVPN, Surfshark, and Cyberghost are subscription-based services that regularly make the top 5 on VPN review portals.
When selecting a good quality VPN, here is a list of criteria that must be satisfied for a positive VPN experience on all fronts;
- Customer support