VPN is one of the most essential tools that can be used nowadays to safeguard your online privacy and prevent several organizations from making out what you are doing on the internet. Most people consider VPN to be an invincible tool that can protect everything they do online, however, the truth is far from that, and there are several situations under which a VPN will not act exactly the way you want. So, that said, a VPN can never be considered as an invincible tool and I will talk about why a VPN is not an invincible tool today here in this story.
This story is going to clear a lot of misconceptions related to Virtual Private Network, and it might make you ponder whether you really need a VPN service to mask your online identity, secure web traffic, and everything else that you do online. If you can understand how exactly a VPN works, you might already know its limitations, however, there are several users who need to know about it. Some of the limitations that I will be talking about are specific only to certain VPN services and might not be applicable to all the Virtual Private Network services that you will come across. But, you should know the limitations so that you can check them at the time of getting a VPN service from a service provider.
So, without any further delay, let’s get started with the overall limitations of using a VPN service so that you can have a clear idea of what a VPN can do and can’t do.
Your workplace or organization can understand you are using a VPN
Most offices and organizations, don’t allow you to install new programs on the office computers, however, if you are carrying your own device to your office, you can use a VPN service to play games, watch videos and do everything else using the internet connection at your office. That way the IT team at your office will not be able to understand what you are doing on the internet as all the data packets are encrypted when it leaves your computer, and hence the server at your office. However even if you use a VPN, they can still understand that you are consuming a lot of bandwidth, say at the time of watching videos or streaming shows. Additionally, if you are using a VPN, the IT team at your office can understand you are connected to one single server at all times, and they can have an idea of the fact that you are using a VPN connection.
In such situations, they can be apprehensive and might want to see what you are doing on the internet that is consuming a lot of bandwidth, and that too by connecting to one single server. Alternatively, they can also put the server in the blacklist and if they do that, you will no longer be able to connect to the VPN server. In that situation, the only way to use the internet connection at your office or workplace is to access the internet without any VPN. So a VPN connection can prevent your office or any other organization from seeing what you are doing online, but they will always have an idea of what you are doing on the internet and they can also understand that you are most probably connected to a VPN for all your online requirements. See: Top 9 ways to protect your privacy and be anonymous on the internet
You can’t be online when there is no internet connection
There can be several situations when your internet service provider is not providing internet connection, maybe due to some technical problems. While in other circumstances, the government can also ban the internet connection in certain areas across the country to prevent fake news from getting spread and tranquilize the outrage of people against some government policies or something of that sort. In none of the circumstances, you will be able to access the internet using a VPN connection. Why you cannot access the internet using a VPN when there is an outage can be easily understood if you can understand how exactly a VPN connection exactly works.
The VPN client on your system encrypts the traffic and send it to the VPN server where the data packets are decrypted, and the transfer takes place through the Internet service provider’s servers, and it is after that, your request is sent to the website or web service that you have requested. So if the internet service provider is not offering your services, for any reason, your VPN Service will also cease to function. So if you are planning to get a VPN service when your internet service provider if not offering you a very good or no internet service at all, a VPN service is also not going to help you either.
A VPN is not going to protect your device from malware
If you are using a VPN on your computer or mobile device, it is just going to encrypt and decrypt the data packets that leave and enters your system respectively. However, if you click on any suspicious link within your email or anywhere else and it is linked to some sort of Malware, a VPN cannot protect your computer or gizmo from getting infected by that malware. So you should no way underestimate the requirement of antivirus or antimalware on your system.
You will have to follow all other basic precautions to keep your system free from malware, like not clicking on any suspicious link, see whether the website is secured before entering any sensitive details like credit card information and others, and finally, you should have a strong firewall on your computer or home server to keep your computer and home network safe from any kind of attacks. In the same way, a VPN software is not going to help you if you plug in a USB storage device that is infected with some sort of virus or malware.
A VPN will not prevent websites tracking you
This might hit you hard, however, the truth is, a VPN cannot do anything after it is decrypted by the VPN server and leaves the server to reach the web location or server that you have requested. The task of the VPN is to protect your identity and the data packets between your system where it is encrypted till it reached the VPN server where it is decrypted, and the local server, through the local server, which can be your home server, the server at a coffee shop, school or college server, etc., and the servers of your ISP.
If there is some hacker sitting at any of these points, they will be unable to sniff the data packets to find out what you are doing online. But after the data packets reach the server that you have requested, it reaches there decrypted, and depending upon the data that you are actually sharing through your web browser, the server on the website can easily recognize you, if you have signed in, your location, by looking at the cookies, and last but not the least, using fingerprinting techniques. So if you are suspecting that there is some hacker who might be there outside your home server, or perhaps your internet service provider is sniffing your data packets, a VPN can be a useful tool to maintain your security and privacy on the internet.
Websites can understand you are using a VPN
Most websites can easily understand that you are using a VPN and can take active steps to limit your usage on the website or prevent you from doing any kind of task or consume content on that website. If you are using Netflix, you might already know, Netflix will prevent you from accessing the catalog of that country if you are trying to trick Netflix into considering that you are from a different country using a VPN. One of the ways, most websites can understand that you are using a VPN is, certain VPN services use one IP address for several users and if the websites detect unusual traffic from one IP address, they can make out something is wrong, and will prevent you from accessing the services, or limit the same. Besides this, there are numerous ways most websites follow to track users who are using a VPN service and they can take steps to limit your experience on that website. See: 7 Different ways to transfer files between your computer & Android device
However, this is not applicable for all VPN services, and if you are using a premium VPN service that is excellent for offering the best services, this might not be the case with you. However, even if you are using a very good VPN Service, websites can still understand that you are using a VPN through some intelligent tricks and if you do not take the steps smartly. Say, for example, you are having a Google account that you have opened in India, and you are switching between several countries to access the same account using a VPN Service. Now Google is not dumb enough to not understand that it is impossible to fly from one country to another within a matter of minutes, and the only way to do that is to use a VPN. So there are several smart ways most websites will use to understand that you are using a VPN, and that is the reason why you should always use a VPN smartly and responsibly.
So you might have already understood why a VPN cannot be considered an invincible tool to maintain your privacy on the internet. It has a number of shortcomings, however, if you want to safeguard your privacy online, there is no doubt a VPN is the best tool that you can opt for as it offers you the best balance between your privacy and performance while using the internet. However, if you are using a VPN, you should also know the basic steps to ensure your privacy, like, you should never login to any of the websites unless you need it, as those are the best ways the websites can recognize it is you who is using the internet.
So that was all about the five things that a VPN Service cannot do. Do you have any questions or have anything to say? Feel free to comment on the same below.