VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are well-known but often misunderstood, preventing them from being adopted and implemented by users, businesses, and institutions. There are actually tons of common VPN myths and misconceptions, leading to millions of people around the world missing out on the benefits of this technology. Despite VPNs still rising in popularity, especially over the past few years, many are still discouraged from using them to improve their security and privacy online. You may have already heard rumours claiming that VPNs are illegal, unnecessary, or too complicated to use, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
VPNs are actually fantastic tools that have several uses including helping you bypass geo-blocking, saving you money on online purchases, and even speeding up your connection speeds. We understand that it’s tricky to distinguish fact from fiction when it comes to VPNs and other controversial technology, so we’re here to help by debunking common VPN myths and resolving the uncertainty. Keep reading to discover common VPN myths and learn why you should ignore them!
The most common VPN myths and why you shouldn’t believe them
Since there are so many different myths about VPNs floating around the internet, we’ve found the top 7 most common ones. Time to bust some myths!
1. VPNs are illegal
VPNs have met with much controversy over the years, leading to one of the biggest misconceptions. Many have been led to believe that VPN usage is illegal, and although the legality varies between countries, generally, this is untrue. In most countries, including the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, and Australia, VPNs are perfectly legal to use, and you won’t get in trouble for using one. Even if you use your VPN to spoof your location and access geo-blocked content, it is not illegal. In some cases, services such as Netflix have warned users that if a VPN is detected then the user’s account will be banned. However, there are no record cases of this happening.
The few countries where VPNs are banned or restricted include China, Russia, North Korea, Iraq, Belarus, and the UAE. Across the rest of the world, as long as you’re not participating in any illegal activity such as cyberbullying someone, buying or selling on the dark web, or pirating copyrighted content. These activities will still land you in trouble regardless of if you’re using a VPN or not!
2. VPNs drastically slow down connection speeds
Another extremely common misconception regarding VPNs is that they slow down your connection speeds leading to long page loading times, buffering streams, and lag when gaming. So, let’s address this, it’s true that VPNs slightly slow down your connection speeds. This is because your traffic has to travel further to reach a VPN server before landing at its destination. However, this reduction in speed is so minimal that you probably won’t even notice it!
But that’s not all! VPNs, in some cases, can actually improve your connection speeds. Without a VPN, you can be a target for bandwidth throttling which occurs when your ISP (Internet Service Provider) deliberately throttles your connection speeds to reduce network congestion. ISPs usually target those participating in activities that are seen as bandwidth-heavy including streaming, torrenting, and online gaming. When you use a VPN, your online activity is hidden so your ISP cannot target you and throttle your bandwidth. This means you can enjoy fast and consistent speeds by simply connecting to a VPN server!
3. Only paranoid users use VPNs
You may believe that VPNs are unnecessary and only useful in countries with strict censorship laws and heavy internet regulations. However, absolutely everyone can benefit from using a VPN, not just those who are paranoid about their privacy. Even if you’re just a regular, casual internet user, you’re still at risk of having your privacy spied on and your sensitive information stolen, and it’s much easier than you think!
When your traffic is not secured by an encrypted VPN tunnel, it’s at risk of being intercepted by hackers with malicious intentions. Simply connecting to the internet and browsing the web, although may seem safe, is actually incredibly risky if you don’t take action to protect yourself. Public WiFi networks (hotspots) are especially dangerous, as when connected,
Anyone else using the same public network can access and steal your unencrypted data (such as passwords, usernames, bank details, and cookies). Cybercriminals have also been known to set up hotspots to lure unsuspecting victims. If you connect to a malicious hotspot without the protection of a VPN, you are leaving your device open to malware attacks which can cause irreversible damage.
4. A VPN protects you from all cyber threats
Unfortunately, as useful as VPNs are for improving your online security, they cannot protect you from everything. Although many reputable VPNs come equipped with threat protection tools such as built-in ad blockers, they are not a substitute for antivirus software and cannot protect you from clicking on malicious links or accidentally giving your personal information to scammers. This can be considered as one of the most dangerous out of all common VPN myths.
Phishing attempts, for instance, cannot be prevented by VPNs. As with all social engineering attacks, phishing attacks rely on human error and are incredibly easy to fall for, even if you use a VPN. Usually, phishing is when a hacker acts as a legitimate source that is sending out a message or email which requires a user to input their account details or other personal information. Additionally, phishing is often disguised in pop-up ads and when clicked on, redirects a user to a malicious website. Phishing attacks are extremely sophisticated, widespread, and easy to fall for, so even if you use a VPN, you have to be cautious when responding to emails or navigating websites. No need to worry, though, as in another article we explain the different ways to prevent phishing in 2022!
5. Free VPNs are perfectly fine to use
Free VPNs may seem like an absolute bargain, especially if you’re on a tight budget, but they do come with several risks that you should be aware of. Since premium VPNs use subscriptions to make a profit, they have much more incentive to protect their users’ privacy. Free VPNs, on the other hand, need to make a profit somehow, and since they’re not doing it through subscriptions, they often resort to selling user data.
Some free VPN providers also load their apps with intrusive ads from sponsors, which is not only annoying but can also drastically slow down your connection speeds. Not only this, free VPNs often have vulnerabilities that can be exploited, leading to users’ devices being infected with malware or having their sensitive information stolen. Additionally, since these VPNs are free, they often do not have the budget or resources to support a large server network which can lead to individual servers being overloaded, causing disruption among users. Overall, free VPNs may seem too good to be true, and that’s because they are. If you care about your privacy and want a safe, fast, and ad-free online experience, then your best choice is to opt for a premium VPN.
6. VPNs are too complicated for most users
VPNs may seem confusing, especially when providers throw around terms such as ‘protocols’, ‘split tunnelling’, ‘DNS’, and ‘encryption.’ However, understanding a VPN and using a VPN are two very different things. You don’t have to learn all the VPN jargon to be able to effectively use a VPN to protect yourself online. Most VPN providers have extremely easy-to-use apps that only require a single click to connect to an appropriate server. You don’t even have to mess around with VPN protocols or any other settings if you don’t want to.
For example, with the popular VPN, NordVPN*, all you have to do is launch the app, click the ‘connect’ button, and you’ll be instantly connected to a nearby server. If you would rather connect to the fastest available server or one based in any specific country, then you can easily switch through the VPN’s app. After this, you just need to get on with your usual internet activities. The only real difference is that you’ll now have peace of mind knowing that the VPN is encrypting your traffic and protecting you from cybercriminals and other snoopers.
7. All VPNs are the same
You may have already seen many VPNs advertising their service online and understandably different providers can all seem to blur into one. But this doesn’t mean that all VPN providers are equal. Rather, some providers are better suited to certain users, depending on what they are planning to use a VPN for or which devices they own. For example, some VPN providers are either better suited to Windows, macOS, or iOS and Android due to their compatibility and app interface. Alternatively, if you want to protect yourself and spoof your location on your Smart TV, then you’ll need a VPN that supports popular Smart TVs such as Apple TV, Samsung Smart TV, LG Smart TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Google Chromecast.
On the other hand, if you have a specific reason for using a VPN, such as bypassing Netflix’s geo-blocking, then you need a VPN that has a large server network, fast connection speeds, and unlimited bandwidth. If you would rather torrent movies and other media content, then you’ll need a highly secure VPN that can protect you when torrenting. Finally, if you’re an online gamer and you want to prevent DDoS attacks, hide your real location, and easily switch servers, then you need a VPN that is suited for online games such as Lost Ark, PUBG, Warzone, and Mobile Legends.