Do I Really Need a VPN to be Safe Online?

You’ll get some very different answers depending on where you ask this question. If you happen to frequent security, technology or hacking groups or forums then there’s little point asking the question, the answer will be a resounding yes. On the hacking forums, there will be much ridicule too for even asking whether you need a VPN in the first place. The general opinion of the technically savvy would be firmly in the ‘yes’ camp.

Other’s are likely to see less of a need, many still believing the mantra – ‘I have nothing to hide’ so what’s the point. The problem is that anyone who uses the internet for any purpose almost certainly has something to hide – anything from their credits card numbers to a personal email address (which gives access to lots of other services). This of course, refers to the many internet baddies who are utilising the web to build huge criminal enterprises with all the cash of traditional activities but without the inherent risks.

The other aspect of the question is ‘who’ you’re thinking to be safe from. Almost all of us want to keep our details safe from the cyber crooks, but how many of us care that the authorities can see what we do online? Many people feel that the police and investigation services need access to our email and web histories in order to catch terrorists and criminals. Other’s think that it’s unacceptable to spy on an entire population in order to catch a few baddies.

First a video which reference the subject – Is VPN Safe?

Of course, it’s up to the individual to decide on the whether they do need to use a VPN. What is worth considering though is the plain facts of what happens when you use the internet without one.

  • The vast majority of your web activity happens in clear text (SSL excepted).
  • ISP Logs contain every web site we visit, everything we download and message we send.
  • Every web site you visit can record your identity.
  • When using an untrusted network anyone can steal any of your details used when online.
  • SSL is no protection on untrusted networks (simple MITM attacks)

For me ultimately, it’s the ease in which it’s possible to steal online without using some sort of encryption method.  The fact that it’s relatively simple to steal credentials that give access to email, online banking and paypal accounts and steal thousands makes me incredibly wary.   I suspect if many knew that this was technically possible they would also be equally as paranoid as the guys in the hacking groups.