5 Tricks Untrustworthy VPNs Use to Fool Their Customers

5 Tricks Untrustworthy VPNs Use to Fool Their Customers

untrustworthy-vpns

While you would usually use a VPN to increase your privacy while browsing online, untrustworthy VPNs achieve exactly the opposite.

In fact, there’s no shortage of VPN providers who mislead clients or engage in deceptive practices to fool their customers. When considering a VPN service, look out for these five tactics that untrustworthy VPNs use to trick potential customers…

Why Would a VPN Try to Trick You?

You may wonder why a VPN provider would try to trick you in the first place. This is often to simply increase sales and profit. But some companies also use deceptive practices to establish trust when the company doesn’t really concern itself with protecting your privacy.

In the past, multiple VPNs have been caught selling user data to third parties to make money. Some VPNs also use your data for advertising other products and services.

Other times, a VPN may use buzzwords and marketing jargon to make the product seem more secure than it is. The problem is so widespread that the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) worked with a variety of VPNs to develop questions a trustworthy VPN should be able to answer for consumers.

We spoke with one of the CDT’s partners in the project, Golden Frog (the company behind VyprVPN), to discuss some of the ways certain players in the VPN industry try to trick consumers.

1. Undisclosed Affiliate Reviews and Sites

Even when you try to do your research and read VPN reviews, you may have trouble sorting legitimate feedback from biased affiliate content.

Many VPN companies use SEO strategies to push negative stories and reviews further down the search engine results. But worse still, some providers even own undisclosed affiliate review sites. These sites pretend to be independent but are actually just glorified company blogs that push a certain product.

“A few top VPN providers have been known to run ‘3rd party’ review sites, which tend to praise a single provider over the competition across the board. Brands can create a positive image with doctored reviews and testimonials,” Golden Frog CEO Sunday Yokubaitis says.

When reading a review site, look out for signs that the site may unreasonably favor one VPN provider over others. Trustworthy review sites will always disclose affiliate links and posts.

When doing your research, make sure to check news websites and forums for any scandals or negative reports on a VPN provider. Reddit is also a good tool for checking up on VPN experiences—just look out for fake users promoting products.

2. Not Identifying Parent and Partner Companies

The parent company of a VPN is an incredibly relevant piece of information for consumers. If a VPN’s parent company aggregates data for commercial use, for example, they may share and sell data from their VPN subsidiary. Sometimes, a parent company may also own advertising companies or other businesses that would benefit from sharing consumer data.

Furthermore, consumers need to know which major partners work with the VPN service to provide their product, the CDT notes. For example, you wouldn’t want a company known for IP leaks to be in charge of your VPN’s servers.

Trustworthy VPNs will not hide this information from you. However, dodgy VPNs will make this information difficult to find.

3. Unclear Revenue Models

When a VPN company is not upfront about the way it makes money, this is a major red flag. On the internet, if something is free it usually means your data is the product. Companies like Facebook illustrate this point perfectly. This is one of the reasons free VPNs aren’t recommended.

Untrustworthy VPNs often don’t provide clear information about their revenue model. Sometimes they bury these details in lengthy privacy policies, or they simply don’t make it available at all.

For your security, you want a VPN provider that mostly or completely makes its money off the subscriptions to its service. Otherwise, you may find that your VPN sells data to third-parties to make money. Or, as was the case with Hola VPN, the service may even sell your bandwidth to botnets.

As the CDT notes, if all or more of the VPN’s revenue comes from subscriptions, this suggests that the users are the company’s actual customers, rather than its product.

4. Unverified Claims of Being Logless

The term “logless” is a popular buzzword in VPN marketing, since many people feel more secure with services that don’t keep logs of their activities. Some companies exaggerate exactly how few logs they keep. But some VPN services outright lie about keeping logs—claiming to be logless when they aren’t

Golden Frog CEO Sunday Yokubaitis says that you should verify whether a VPN provider is actually logless by checking with an independent body that can verify this.

“If a VPN does claim to be logless, you should ensure that has been verified by an independent third party validator, and not just an affiliate publication.”

5. Fake Server Locations

Some untrustworthy VPN providers use fake virtual servers to trick consumers. They usually do this so that it seems like they have a larger network of servers and a wide variety of locations. This tactic often makes the product more appealing to potential customers.

However, fake server locations impact user experience and affect your ping. Furthermore, fake servers can affect user privacy.

You should always check whether your potential VPN provider has been caught using fake server locations.

Other Questions You Should Ask Your VPN

When shopping for a VPN provider, make sure to steer clear of manipulative tactics that try to trick you into buying a product.

A few other questions you should ask about a potential VPN service before subscribing include:

  • If they keep logs, are they transparent about what is being logged, why it’s logged, and for what duration?
  • How do they handle legal requests for information?
  • Do third parties control or handle any of the VPNs functions?

These important questions will help you avoid nasty surprises in future.

Understand More About VPN Services

If you want to use a VPN to enhance your online privacy, you need to understand the different features of the service and what they can achieve.

Should you find yourself a bit unclear on the meaning of different VPN jargon, check out our guide on VPN terminology for a better understanding.

Image Credit: sharpshutter/Depositphotos

Read the full article: 5 Tricks Untrustworthy VPNs Use to Fool Their Customers

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The 7 Best VPNs for Linux

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Linux has lots of benefits compared to Windows and macOS. One area where it can’t help you, however, is online privacy.

To be truly safe on the internet, you need to use a VPN. It will protect you from the prying eyes of governments, ISPs, and hackers. Here are the best VPNs for Linux—and we’ve even thrown in a couple of Linux VPN clients.

1. ExpressVPN

We begin the list of Linux VPNs with ExpressVPN, which happens to be one of the best VPNs for any device, period.

Since April 2016, the app has offered its own Linux-compatible app. It relies on the command line rather than providing a user interface, but it’s still easy to use.

If you’re running Ubuntu, Mint, Debian, Fedora, or CentOS, just download the installer and follow the on-screen instructions. You’ll need to add your activation code before you can use the service.

Once the installation is complete, you can connect to your nearest server from the command line by typing expressvpn connect. To see a list of the available servers, type expressvpn list. And to connect to a specific server, use expressvpn connect [LOCATION]. To disconnect from ExpressVPN, type expressvpn disconnect.

MakeUseOf readers can get a special 49% discount when signing up to ExpressVPN.

2. TorGuard

TorGuard offers more than 3,300 servers in 55 countries, thus making it one of the Linux VPNs with the most connection points.

The service has four standalone features:

  • Anonymous VPN Service: This is the core feature. TorGuard’s VPN will encrypt all your traffic. You can have up to five simultaneous connections along with unlimited speed and bandwidth.
  • Anonymous Proxy: The Anonymous Proxy will hide your IP address, unblock websites, and let you download content incognito.
  • Stealth VPN: Some sites and services don’t allow you to access their pages with a VPN. Stealth VPN will enable you to bypass such blocks.
  • Private Email: The Private Email feature uses OpenPGP email encryption so you can send messages without compromising your identity.

Unlike ExpressVPN, TorGuard does have a graphical user interface (GUI) on Linux. If you’re uncomfortable with using the command line, you might find it to be a better option.

TorGuard plans start at $ 9.99 per month.

3. NordVPN

Remember, before signing up for any VPN service, you need to establish what’s most important to you. Some VPNs have locations in hundreds of countries and specialize in accessing geo-blocked content. Others instead focus on offering the most robust security.

NordVPN’s falls into the latter category. Its features include a kill switch, DNS leak protection, IPv6 leak protection, and port forwarding. The company does not keep any logs and only supports the secure OpenVPN and Wireguard protocols.

Even making payments for NordVPN is private; you can pay for the for service using Bitcoin. NordVPN costs $ 6.99 per month if you sign up for a year.

On the downside, NordVPN is based in Sweden, which is a 14-eyes country. The jury is still out on how much a provider’s 14-eyes membership can affect your privacy. There’s also no GUI on Linux, so using the VPN is slightly more laborious for beginners.

4. AirVPN

AirVPN works on all the major Linux distros, including Ubuntu, Debian, OpenSUSE, Fedora, and Arch.

The service supports SSH, SSL, and Tor. It uses three types of encryption to keep you safe: 4096-bit RSA keys, an AES-256-CBC data channel, and an HMAC SHA1 control channel.

Importantly, AirVPN also offers no traffic limits, no maximum speed, no time limits, no logging, and up to five connections at the same time.

The company deserves massive credit for its Linux VPN client. Called Eddie, the app is open source. As such, you can use it to connect to any other VPN provider’s servers.

The VPN costs €7 per month. Uniquely, three-day plans are also available for €3. Like NordVPN, you can pay for AirVPN using Bitcoin.

5. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access (PIA) is perennially popular among users. Despite being located in a Five-Eyes jurisdiction (the United States), PIA is reasonably secure. The company does not keep logs or any identifying information.

Indeed, when confronted with new Russian laws which required a company to keep logs of all traffic for 12 months, it shut down its operations in the country rather than comply.

From a features standpoint, PIA has more than 3,000 servers in 33 countries. PPTP, OpenVPN, and L2TP/IPSec are supported, and you can use five devices at the same time. There is also a dedicated Linux user interface.

You can buy Private Internet Access for less than $ 3 per month if you sign up for two years. The regular monthly price is $ 6.95.

6. Windscribe

What about free VPNs for Linux? If you want a reliable free VPN, your options are much more limited.

One of the most common free VPNs on Windows and Mac is TunnelBear. Unfortunately, it only has limited support for Linux. Therefore, we think the best free VPN for Linux is Windscribe. It is available on Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, and CentOS.

Windscribe Free gives you 10GB of data per month and access to servers in 10 countries. And, unlike some free VPNs, you still get all the security benefits of a paid plan, including no logging. If you want to upgrade to the pro plan, it will cost you $ 9 per month.

7. Tor

It’s always worth ending VPN article with a mention of Tor. It routes your traffic through an onion network, making it virtually impossible to trace. The Tor browser is available for Linux.

You should use Tor if you’re looking for a free option. Remember, you shouldn’t use a free VPN. With a free VPN, you are the product; they are notorious for logging, lousy business practice, and poor reliability.

Bonus: Qomui

Speaking of open source VPN clients, have a look at Qomui. It’s a frontend VPN GUI that’s compatible with any provider that supports OpenVPN. Some commentators have suggested it’s better than Eddie.

Note: Qomui does not offer a VPN service.

Secure Yourself on Linux

Using a Linux VPN is just one of the ways you can protect yourself while using your favorite distro.

If you would like to learn more about staying secure on Linux, check out our articles about Linux security issues you should be aware of and security tools you should always keep handy on Linux.

Read the full article: The 7 Best VPNs for Linux

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The 7 Best Free VPNs for Google Chrome

chrome-vpn

Virtual private networks (VPNs) are becoming increasingly popular. They have hundreds of uses, from companies or organizations that want to provide functionality to their work-from-home employees, to regular internet users who want to circumnavigate geo-blocking restrictions.

Here are six of the best free Chrome VPNs for you to check out.

Note: If you are using these VPNs with the hope of accessing Netflix or BBC iPlayer, be aware that these services and many others are now trying to block access for VPN-based IP addresses.

Free vs. Premium VPNs

With all VPNs, you get what you pay for. Yes, free VPNs are good, but they’re not comparable to a premium VPN service in terms of quality, speed, or security.

For example, many free VPN services only offer the PPTP protocol. This is not as robust as other VPN protocols such as L2TP/IPSEC, OpenVPN, SSTP, or SSH—most of which are offered by the leading paid services.

You also need to consider browsing speed. VPN servers are very expensive to run and manage. If you’re on a free service, it’s probably already overloaded with other users. In contrast, premium providers reinvest a lot of their income on servers and bandwidth.

There are also intangibles to think about. Can you expect reliable support from a free provider? Is the uptime close to 100 percent?

Lastly, ask yourself this: why is it free? In the best case scenario, it’s because the service is riddled with ads. At worst, the provider is stealing your connection and using your bandwidth for other users.

Bottom line: A free VPN is better than no VPN. But if you have the money and value your security, invest in a top paid subscription.

One of the best premium VPNs is ExpressVPN (save up to 49% off using this link). It supports OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, SSTP, PPTP, includes unlimited speed and bandwidth, has servers in 94 countries, and allows up to three simultaneous connections.

1. DotVPN

Try the DotVPN service for Chrome

DotVPN has been around since 2014 and is now starting to gain serious traction. It has more than 800,000 users according to the Chrome Web Store and has an average review score of 4 stars (from almost 10,000 reviews).

Some of its best features include:

  • Unlimited bandwidth.
  • 12 virtual locations (Canada, Germany, France, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom).
  • Unlimited switches between locations.

The developers are also keen to underline the security benefits. DotVPN uses 4096-bit key encryption—that’s two times greater than modern banking standards.

The premium version costs $ 2.99 per month.

2. ZenMate VPN

ZenMate VPN us available for the Chrome browser

ZenMate VPN brands itself as a “cybersecurity solution”. They have a worldwide network of highly secure proxy servers which encrypt your information and protect you from malicious websites.

The ZenMate VPN service can be broken down into three parts: internet privacy, Wi-Fi security, and unrestricted internet access.

With regards to privacy, the service will block ad trackers, third-party analytics tools, and social media pixels following you around the web. From a Wi-Fi perspective it will add an extra line of defense when you’re on unsecured public networks, and from an unrestricted internet standpoint, it will help you overcome geo-blocking.

ZenMate VPN also offers a premium service which improves the speed, adds extra locations, and offers 24/7 support. It’s available from $ 7.99 per month.

3. Hotspot Shield

Browse anonymously with Hotspot Shield

Before we discuss Hotspot Shield’s features, it is important to note that the service is operated by Anchor Free.

Anchor is widely considered to be one of the most reliable companies in the industry; it’s more than 10 years old, has seen in excess of 400 million downloads across its different apps, and currently has 20 million active users in 190 countries.

In terms of the service, it’s both free and unlimited and has versions available for iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows.

Like ZenMate, there is also a premium version of Hotspot Shield. It starts at $ 2.08 per month, depending on your subscription length.

4. Browsec VPN

Browsec lets you access any site, anywhere

Browsec VPN claims to be “an advanced analog of ZenMate, Stealthy, Hola, and friGate”.

The app’s main benefits are letting its users access any sites from anywhere, enhancing user privacy online, and protecting user data from sniffers and trackers.

It makes a big push on the geo-blocking, but rather than focus on opening up content from different countries’ stores on Netflix or BBC, Browsec VPN instead mentions services like Spotify, Pandora, and SoundCloud—some of which are completely blocked in certain regions.

Browsec VPN also advertises its service as a way to access sites that are blocked on office or school computers, such as Facebook, Reddit, and YouTube.

5. TunnelBear VPN

TunnelBear is a good option for the Chrome browser

Of all the services we’ve discussed in this list, TunnelBear has the best reviews—an unprecedented five stars from almost 10,500 individual ratings at the time of writing. Rather than being a true VPN, this service is actually an encrypted proxy.

Readers who’ve been working with VPNs for a long time will be well aware of the brand name; TunnelBear has been around for many years and has published very successful desktop-based products for both Windows and Mac.

There is one key difference between this Chrome extension and the desktop offerings, and it’s an important one to understand—TunnelBear for Chrome only encrypts your browser traffic, whereas TunnelBear VPN for desktop encrypts 100 percent of your data.

TunnelBear boasts some of the fastest speeds of all the VPNs on this list and has servers available in 20 countries worldwide.

6. Betternet

Betternet is a popular VPN service for Google Chrome

Betternet offers an unlimited free VPN. You don’t need to pay a cent or even create an account.

The app also doesn’t include ads and doesn’t collect logs, which will put the minds of privacy-conscious users at rest. And don’t worry; you are not the product. Betternet makes money by showing sponsored apps and videos.

The VPN itself can be turned on and off with the click of a button. Indeed, that single button is the entire extent of the user interface; it’s super easy to use even for people who don’t have any prior experience of using a VPN.

7. Gom VPN

Our final recommendation is Gom VPN.

The app specializes in letting you access geo-blocked content. The developers specifically name-drop Netflix, Pandora, and Amazon in their description.

Gom offers users 1000Mbit servers and proxies, one tap activation, and an easy-to-configure user interface. It’s also secure, whenever you’re using Gom, all your traffic is encrypted using HTTP2 SSL.

Lastly, Gom does not keep any logs of your activity, thus protecting you agains prying governments and ISPs.

Why Use a VPN?

VPNs have many benefits for end users. It can be something simple like improving your privacy, but it could also be allowing you to navigate to sites such as The Pirate Bay which certain browsers have intentionally deemed to be malicious.

Of course, you also need to be alert as to how these services operate. Despite their best claims, if something is free, it often means you are the product. The reality is that if you want 100 percent peace of mind, you should invest in a paid service.

To learn more about using VPNs, check out our articles on the best VPNs you will find and the best VPN according to Reddit.

Read the full article: The 7 Best Free VPNs for Google Chrome

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3 Free VPNs for Kodi (But the Best VPN for Kodi Is Paid)

kodi-tv-vpn

If you’re using Kodi, you’ve probably decided that a VPN is a wise idea, especially if you’re going to use some sketchy add-ons. But you aren’t ready to spend money on a proper VPN, what are your options?

Well, you can start off with this list of free VPNs that you can use with your Kodi box.

Do You Need a VPN for Kodi?

Using a VPN (see our guide to VPN terminology) for Kodi is about more than avoiding detection when using illegal add-ons.

Kodi is remotely hackable, and add-ons can be riddled with security flaws. Whether you’re accessing illegal content, adding legal streams, or simply using the approved add-ons, you might be making your Kodi less secure and more susceptible to man-in-the-middle and keylogger attacks.

Even rogue subtitle files can hack your device!

Kodi isn’t anonymous, which means that anyone observing your activity online (whether a hacker or a government agency) can see exactly what you’re streaming. Using a VPN with Kodi, you can anonymize your online activity, encrypting all data leaving Kodi.

It doesn’t matter if you’re using a PC, smartphone, or Raspberry Pi; a VPN can be installed. A VPN will also protect other hardware on your network in the event of a Kodi add-on attempting malicious activity. Our list of reasons for using a VPN with Kodi expands on this topic.

The Best Free VPNs for Kodi

Various free VPNs are available, but which ones are suitable for use with Kodi?

Before we proceed, it’s worth highlighting here that free VPNs typically offer a restricted experience. Bandwidth is often limited, meaning that your activity via the VPN is capped. Paid VPNs don’t have such a limit.

As such, the list of options for free VPNs that you might use with Kodi is limited.

  1. ProtonVPN: A good option, but P2P (peer-to-peer) is not supported. So while streams from YouTube and other direct streaming services will work, add-ons relying on P2P data will not work.
  2. TunnelBear: Sadly, this has a 500MB daily cap for free use, making it pointless for video streaming. However, if you’re streaming audio or downloading podcasts with Kodi, this could be an option.
  3. VPNBook: No registration, and therefore the most private VPN out there. VPNBook doesn’t offer an app. As such, you will need to install an OpenVPN client on your Kodi device and manually configure the settings. This may not be suitable for many users.

Ultimately, you’re not going to get an enjoyable experience using a free VPN with Kodi. If you choose to use a free VPN, you will see more ads; any personal data you submit will be sold, too. See our list of the best unlimited free VPNs for more.

However, there is a better option.

If you aren’t able to pay for a VPN but want limitless VPN access, why not consider a trial subscription? As long as you cancel the subscription before the billing cycle begins, you should be able to use your chosen VPN for free. Many services offer a free trial (ranging from three to 30 days), so this option is worthy of consideration.

What Is the Best Paid VPN for Kodi?

Express VPN desktop client

Put off by the idea of using a free VPN with your Kodi box? It’s understandable; the best answer is to find an affordable, fast, and competent VPN solution that can handle gigabytes of streaming media.

While we’ve put many VPNs to the test over the years, the one that offers best reliability for Kodi is ExpressVPN (save up to 49% off using this link).

With desktop clients for Windows and macOS, OpenVPN support for Linux, and apps for Android, iOS, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire (tablet and TV), Xbox, PlayStation, and the Chrome, Mozilla, and Safari browsers, ExpressVPN is available everywhere. You can choose from over 2,000 VPN servers in 94 countries, and it’s easy to set up and use.

ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, with no data retention laws, with no restrictions on what you can stream, and no one forcing them to store your activity. You can be confident of a secure, private Kodi streaming experience.

Which VPN Should You Use With a Kodi Fire Stick?

Have you installed Kodi on your Amazon Fire Stick? If so, you’ll probably want to install a VPN there too.

Thanks to the Amazon Fire Stick’s Fire OS being based on Android, this is relatively straightforward. All you should need to do is install your VPN app from the Amazon App Store.

IPVanish offers an app for Amazon Fire Stick

But which one is best?

ExpressVPN, PureVPN, NordVPN and many other recognizable names are available. If you’re looking for the best option for this device, however, we suggest you take a look at IPVanish.

Note that if you’re using a VPN on your Amazon Fire Stick or TV box, you’ll need to ensure that it is running before you open Kodi. While it is possible to access the Android apps from within Kodi, this can cause a lag and cause the VPN (or Kodi) to crash.

How to Install a VPN on Kodi

Installing a VPN on Kodi differs from machine to machine. Perhaps your Kodi system is running on Windows; perhaps Linux. Alternatively, you could be using an Android TV, a games console, or a Raspberry Pi.

Each of these has a slightly different requirement for running a VPN with Kodi.

For example, Linux computers will benefit from OpenVPN, which is supported by many VPN providers. A PC or Android device, meanwhile, should be able to run a dedicated mobile app from the VPN provider.

Because the requirements are different depending on the hardware, it is a good idea to check if your device is supported by the VPN provider before proceeding. You should also consult our guide to setting up a VPN on Kodi. Not all Kodi devices work well with a VPN. If you find that things aren’t working well, try a VPN router instead.

Read the full article: 3 Free VPNs for Kodi (But the Best VPN for Kodi Is Paid)

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7 Reasons Why VPNs Might Die Out by 2020

vpns-must-die

You’ve signed up to a VPN, and you’re happy with the privacy it brings to your online activities. Maybe you use for safety on public Wi-Fi, or to beat region-blocking restrictions on your favorite streaming sites. But what if we told you that the VPN (at least in its current form) is in danger of dying out? You might be doubtful, so here are seven problems with VPNs that need fixing, sooner rather than later. 1. The NSA Can Break VPN Encryption Let’s start with the uncomfortable truth: the NSA has the technology to break your VPN’s encryption. The overwhelming…

Read the full article: 7 Reasons Why VPNs Might Die Out by 2020

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10 Great Deals You Can Get on VPNs, Gadgets, Courses, and More

Looking to do a little shopping? Well, today is your lucky day because we’re featuring lots of deals on lifetime VPN subscriptions, online courses, and fun gadgets! VPN Subscriptions PureVPN: Lifetime Subscription ($ 89.99) Key Features: Connect up to 5 devices at a time Has over 550 servers in 141 countries that’ll help beat geographic restrictions Works with routers, game consoles, smart TVs, and just about every mobile and PC OS Unlimited bandwidth Easy to get up and running VPN Unlimited: Lifetime Subscription ($ 49.99) Key Features: Servers in 70+ locations in 50+ countries Unlimited bandwidth to browse and download all you want Easy to use app…

Read the full article: 10 Great Deals You Can Get on VPNs, Gadgets, Courses, and More

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