Geeks2U Promise
We guarantee you'll love our fast, friendly service - or we'll refund your money.  
133,572 Happy Customers & Counting
Need tech support?
1300 769 448
Extended hours, 7 days a week
Home  /  geekspeak  /  A VPN is a good idea, but not all VPNs are equal

A VPN is a good idea, but not all VPNs are equal

The use of Virtual Private Network (VPN) software has erupted in recent years for a whole slew of reasons. If you’re staring at the acronym and wondering what a VPN is, it’s essentially software that encrypts your internet communications and allows that encrypted content to be sent across the internet, emerging at another destination without necessarily providing a clear path of where it’s come from or what it contains. It’s essentially a privacy tool, often beloved of both large businesses for whom secrecy is paramount, as well as folks simply using a VPN to mask where they are to access particularly content that may be geographically blocked. Before Netflix expanded beyond its limited US base, using a VPN was the favoured method of those wishing to use the streaming service from other countries. Now, Netflix tends to block accounts it detects are using VPN software to jump around the slightly varied libraries it offers in different destinations.

Geographic jumping aside, there’s some solid evidence that using a VPN for a lot of your Internet usage is a wise move. The nature of VPN usage means that you will experience a slight speed hit by using them, but in return you get mostly-secure communications, something that just isn’t there over the plain Internet.

That has be qualified as “mostly-secure”, however, because not all VPNs are created equal, or for that matter treat the data they’re shuffling around in equal ways. Even being able to tell where data has entered or exited a VPN (the metadata of that internet session) can tell you a lot about that actual usage.

That’s also predicating on the idea that the VPN itself isn’t outright spying on you. Facebook recently found itself in hot water due to the fact that its mobile app includes a section labelled as “Protect” that, on the surface, seems a good idea. Who wouldn’t want a “protected” internet, after all? Clicking on “Protect” within the iOS app will encourage you to download and install a VPN app called Onavo, named for the company that built that particular VPN, itself acquired by Facebook some years back.

So far, so good you might think, except that Onavo does a little more than just encrypt your data. It also logs that usage “in order to improve Facebook services”, or in other words, to provide Facebook with yet more data about what you’re doing online. It’s pretty much the opposite of what a VPN is meant to be doing, even if Facebook is only collecting the data in aggregate to clue it into internet trends rather than specifically honing into your online activities.

It’s well worth considering VPN usage for your online activities, especially if (for example) you do a lot of online banking, online shopping or any other online financial activity. A decent VPN will (typically) cost you a monthly subscription fee, although few of the good ones are punitively expensive. That’s a cost likely to be a lot less than having your online identity compromised and your bank accounts emptied, too. Still, before you install any VPN, do your research around exactly how private it really is, and what kinds of user activity it logs. You might just find that your virtual “private” network isn’t really all that private at all.


Recent News

As you’re probably aware, Facebook’s recently been making some very big changes to the way Australians use its services. Specifically, and in reaction to the media bargaining laws before Parliament, Facebook opted to instead block any Australian user from sharing news from any Australian or International news source, as well as blocking international users from

Your hard drive is one of the most important parts of your computer or laptop because it’s where everything is stored. Your hard drive stores all your programs, applications, files and photos, so it can be very stressful and frustrating if something goes wrong. Almost everyone encounters a hard drive error at least once in

Recently, Elon Musk – yes, that Elon Musk, of Tesla and SpaceX fame – launched a new product in Australia, and indeed globally. Starlink is a satellite based broadband service that spans the globe, technically delivering fast broadband to just about anywhere. While Starlink had been in limited release for a North American audience since

One of the nicest features of Apple’s iPhone range of smartphones is the ability to unlock the phone using nothing more than your face. Apple calls it “FaceID”, and rather than having to remember a passcode or passphrase, you can unlock your phone with just a glance. Android phones have something similar, with a face

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Learn about the precautions we are taking and our new contactless pick-up and remote service options. Read More
Get help setting up your home office or homework area today. Learn More