Antonin Hérault
Antonin Hérault

Antonin Hérault

Is using a VPN really useful for privacy protection ? (Spoiler : NO)

Today we talk about VPN, what they are and their common usage. We will see if owning one is really needed to protect yourself on the Internet

Antonin Hérault's photo
Antonin Hérault
·Jul 2, 2022·

4 min read

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Table of contents

  • Introduction
  • What's a VPN
  • How providers lie to you
  • Conclusion

Introduction

You probably already heard about what's a VPN. But do you really know what they are ? In this article, I explain how a VPN works and how VPN providers lie to you to make your buy something you don't usually need.

What's a VPN

"VPN" stands for "Virtual Private Network".

You also probably have a local area network (LAN) at home, that you use to communicate between all the connected devices. Each device is passing by the same box, that gives an Internet connection, instead of being directly connected to the Internet.

LAN scheme : device --> box --> Internet
Basic scheme : device --> Internet

By this way, you cannot communicate with the devices in your home's LAN without being at home. Mmmh... well, you can still configure your box to be opened to the world by port forwarding. But this is a dangerous solution.

The VPN principle was created to solve this problem, you can recreate this LAN with devices all over the world. A scheme means more than text :

screenshot from Micode's video.png Credits : "Micode" on Youtube, from this video

So, the VPN is two parts : the client and the server.

client ⇄ server ⇄ ???

The client is passing by the server to make all the requests, and the server sends back the result to the client. In common cases, theses paths are encrypted tunnels.

The thing is that the request is made by the server, and not you (the client). The server becomes the client for what you requested.

Imagine making a request to netflix.com :

client
  ⇅
server ⇄ Netflix

Netflix never knows you, it only knows the VPN server.

So, it sounds good. But you forgot a certain point about VPN...

How providers lie to you

The marketing genius of the VPN companies makes you think you need a VPN to stay protected on the Internet. But it's false !

1. Protection against hackers

They would tell you that with a VPN, you are protected from hackers. It's completely useless, even if :

  • You are connected to a public WIFI
  • You make a request on an HTTP website

But, all websites are using HTTPS now ? Yes... almost all websites are secured, and when it's not the case, your browser will tell you that the website is not secure.

With Chrome Browser, you can be prevented if you are connected to an HTTP website at chrome://settings/security by setting on this setting :

google chrome setting about HTTP.png

So, you are not more protected with a VPN when you are on Internet than when you don't have one.

2. Anonymous connection

Completely wrong ! Your personal data passes by the VPN server, so you share them with the VPN provider.

They promise you they will never keep any information, log or something else about your data, but it's impossible to really know what they do with them. It's also possible for these VPN providers to be hacked, like NordVPN was hacked then there are personal data breaches.

VPN users are interesting targets for the governments, and some VPN providers already helped the intelligence services to catch someone.

3. Illegal downloads

I do not encourage anyone to download illegally, but seriously, it's useless to use a VPN for this kind of things.

In France, Hadopi issued 101 tickets in 9 years, and United States stopped their own service of "Copyright alert service" (French article about the American "Hadopi" there). Basically, it's a big joke

4. More stuff from streaming platforms

The streaming platforms hate VPN users, seriously, they do.

You have a great chance of being banned from these platforms.

To avoid this problem, create your own VPN by taking a VPS from an unknown provider and installing OpenVPN on it. French tutorial there

Conclusion

They scare people about problems that don't exist, to sell their products. In common cases, you don't need a VPN. If you really need one, create your own with OpenVPN and stop giving all your money to liars.

Thank you for reading me, see you soon !

I made this article with the (big) help of this French video "NordVPN vous ment." If you are French, I recommend you to take a tour on the Micode YouTube channel.