VPN services sponsor zillions of YouTube videos, always promising security and privacy for your data through encryption. But they miss a crucial point: your browser, and the apps you use, already do that.
“With a VPN, you prevent your data from being stolen, and you can also access websites and services from other countries. Sign up now, with 80% off”. You can no longer watch YouTube without seeing ads like this: VPN (virtual private network) services do merchandising on all types of channels, including those that have nothing to do with technology.
It’s a real bombing. And maybe you’ve already wondered: do you really need to subscribe to a VPN? In the overwhelming majority of cases, no. VPNs are services that encrypt all data traffic between you and the internet. It turns out that your browser, and your smartphone apps, already do that.
Scroll up this page and take a look at the address bar. See the padlock? It indicates that your connection to the Super website is encrypted. Virtually all websites use the HTTPS protocol, and have been for several years. It is very rare these days to find a page whose connection is not encrypted. The same goes for apps.
This means that even if someone intercepts your data traffic (by creating a fake Wi-Fi hotspot and tricking you into connecting to it, for example), they won’t be able to read anything. Okay, the encryption used in HTTPS isn’t perfect (neither is). But breaking it requires relatively uncommon technical expertise — and exploiting loopholes that have already been patched. on 99% of websites.
Companies often use VPN, for employees who are traveling or working from home, because corporate tools and systems do not typically include encryption. Normal: they are designed to work within a local network, not via the internet. The VPN, in this case, is important. But other than that, no.
Using a VPN does not protect against viruses, nor does it prevent a malicious page from trying to steal your Cookies your browser (which allows hacking into your accounts). does not protect against phishing, nor does it prevent you from falling into online scams.
It doesn’t improve privacy much either: Google and Facebook, among others, are still able to monitor virtually all of your web browsing – because this is done through cookieswhose operation the VPN does not change.
The only thing a VPN does, in terms of privacy, is to prevent your ISP from knowing which sites you are accessing. This information still exists – only now it resides on the VPN’s computers. Some services say they don’t keep any logs (usage record), they erase everything. But this is impossible to prove.
In 2021 ProtonMail, which is the main anonymous email service and also has a very traditional VPN, Proton VPN, handed over to the French authorities logs that said not to keep. In short: VPN is no guarantee of privacy or anonymity.
It serves, in practice, for two things: downloading and sharing files via BitTorrent greatly reducing the risk of being sued – something that sometimes it happens, even in Brazil – and access content from Netflix, and other streaming services, intended for other countries.
But this is piracy, illegal (prohibited by those kilometric usage contracts, which appear when you subscribe to a streaming service) or simply blocked – Netflix, for example, try to stop the use of VPNs.
Now you know. The next time you’re watching a YouTube video and a VPN merchandise pops up, you don’t have to feel bad or unprotected because you don’t have one.
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