Report: VPNs Are Often a Mixed Bag for Privacy

[…] Consumer Reports, which recently published a 48-page white paper on VPNs that looks into the privacy and security policies of 16 prominent VPN providers. Researchers initially looked into some 51 different companies but ultimately honed in on the most prominent, high-quality providers. The results are decidedly mixed, with the report highlighting a lot of the long offered criticisms of the industry—namely, it’s lack of transparency, its PR bullshit, and its not always stellar security practices. On the flip side, a small coterie of VPNs actually seem pretty good.

[…]

. Consumers may often believe that by using a VPN they are able to become completely invisible online, as companies promise stuff like “unrivaled internet anonymity,” and the ability to “keep your browsing private and protect yourself from hackers and online tracking,” and so on and so forth.

In reality, there are still a whole variety of ways that companies and advertisers can track you across the internet—even if your IP address is hidden behind a virtual veil.

[…]

via a tool developed by a group of University of Michigan researchers, dubbed the “VPNalyzer” test suite, which was able to look at various security issues with VPN connections. The research team found that “malicious and deceptive behaviors by VPN providers such as traffic interception and manipulation are not widespread but are not nonexistent. In total, the VPNalyzer team filed more than 29 responsible disclosures, 19 of which were for VPNs also studied in this report, and is awaiting responses regarding its findings.”

The CR’s own analysis found “little evidence” of VPNs “manipulating users’ networking traffic when testing for evidence of TLS interception,” though they did occasionally run into examples of data leakage.

And, as should hopefully go without saying, any VPN with the word “free” near it should be avoided at all costs, lest you accidentally download some sort of Trojan onto your device and casually commit digital hari-kari.

[…]

According to CR’s review, four VPN providers rose to the top of the list in terms of their privacy and security practices. They were:

Apparently in that order.

These companies stood out mostly by not over-promising what they could deliver, while also scoring high on scales of transparency and security

[…]

Source: Report: VPNs Are Often a Mixed Bag for Privacy

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