HideMyAss – Secure and Anonymous VPN Service
In one of the series of article I wrote about FreeUSvpn.com free VPN service, one of the commentators asked if it’s safe to use this service. I’m going to bring my two cents to this critical question – and rather than answer for the particular VPN service quoted above, I’d like to address this in a broader point of view. Is free VPN safe?
How does a VPN work?
So let’s consider a VPN service. How does it actually work? Let’s just take a simplified vision:
– You chose a VPN provider – let’s say xxVPN.com.
– You are then usually given credentials and a software for connecting through the VPN. On a basic package, your operating systems already come with a VPN client software – you only have to configure it properly provided that you have all the needed information (the protocols used, the encryption supported, …). I’m not going to get into the details of the protocols for encrypting whether it is for the header or for the body of the IP packet.
– On some more elaborate VPN packages, the provider will give you an additional software that eases the installation and configuration process. This usually is a proprietary software.
– Then you use your credentials to set up the VPN connection. This VPN actually is a kind of tunnel where all your traffic goes through before reaching the internet/intranet. At the same time, it “impersonates” you by giving you a temporary IP address that will be visible by the whole internet – though “hiding” your actual IP address.
– All your internet traffic then goes through this one single tunnel.
The safety perspective
Now let’s see this whole process from a safety point of view and bring some elements of answers to the question raised on the title of this article. I’m going to ask you to answer the following questions first:
– To what degree would you trust a third-party provider that you barely know who promises you some kind of security by asking you to route all your traffic through their unknown tunnel?
– How do you actually check if all your traffic is actually encrypted?
– How do you ensure that your traffic is actually strongly encrypted so that no man-in-the-middle would be able to sniff it and decrypt it easily?
– Would you conduct a private transaction (let’s say bank-related transaction for example) by going through a third party provider that you haven’t done any business before and that still needs to earn your trust?
Your two cents – Is free VPN safe?
Check your answers, and if you are hesitating for any of those questions, then I’d recommend you not use those services for any privacy-concern-related activities you’d do on the Internet.
So, is a free VPN safe? Now you have enough info in order to be able to decide for yourself.