Can You Be Tracked with a VPN?

Can You Be Tracked with a VPN?

Virtual Private Networks have become increasingly common in recent years as more internet users seek to protect their activities. Using a premium VPN will encrypt and secure your private data, no matter what Wi-Fi network you connect to.

When you use a VPN, your IP address- the unique code assigned to you by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) which identifies you to the websites you visit- will be replaced with a VPN IP. As your IP address is masked and your activities encrypted, you cannot be tracked by third parties.

If you are worried about your activities being monitored by a third party, cybercriminals, hackers, the government, or even your ISP, a VPN is an excellent solution. Your ISP may know that you are using a VPN, but they will be unable to view or decipher your actual activity. Therefore, a VPN will significantly reduce your chances of being tracked online.

Does a VPN Offer Complete Internet Security?

Millions of users around the world use VPNs for a variety of reasons. Many people agree that it helps them to feel safer and more secure online. Internet privacy is becoming increasingly difficult to protect, but a VPN will successfully protect your internet activities from spying, tracking, malicious advertising, data collection, and cybercriminals.

But does a VPN offer complete protection against tracking? To answer this question, it is first important to understand what tracking means in this context. It is necessary to consider whether a third party can see that you are using a VPN connection, the information available to them, and whether they can view or monitor your internet activities when connected to a VPN service.

There is a range of ways that internet users can be tracked online. If you don’t use a VPN or another privacy tool, your real IP address can be seen by the websites and services you access online. Internet users may accidentally install malware on their devices, resulting in worrying issues such as fraud or stolen private information.

Many advertisers monitor and track your activities by using cookies. Some browsers may offer cookie-blocking if you want to prevent your internet information from being stored. Also, DNS leaks occur when a DNS is not configured correctly, and a cybercriminal hacks your device. Such leaks can significantly compromise your privacy by exposing your information and activity. Look for a VPN that offers complete leak protection.

It is necessary to note that your IP address is not the only thing that identifies you on the web. Therefore, a VPN cannot protect you against every online risk. Privacy-conscious customers should use a VPN and in combination with anti-virus software. It is also necessary to be cautious about suspicious websites, emails, and links.

Who Can See that I am Using a VPN?

Other users will not be able to see that you are using a VPN, but some parties, including your ISP (Internet Service Provider), websites, services, apps, and hackers, can. Your ISP delivers your web service and, therefore, can see all of the internet connections that you make when you’re connected to one of their servers. This does not mean that it is obvious that you are using a VPN connection, but if they notice your changed IP address and encrypted traffic, they could theoretically find out.

Many apps and sites don’t offer access to customers that are using a VPN. Such services detect VPN usage by blacklisting particular IP addresses that multiple people around the world can use. The website or app will block any such suspicious IP addresses. Hackers and cybercriminals may also be able to tell that you are connected to a VPN if they try to access or steal your personal information through an unsafe or unsecured Wi-Fi network, such as those in cafes or hotels that do not have a password.

The fact that your ISP, websites, and third parties can view your use of a VPN is not necessarily a negative. Just because they can see that you are connected to a VPN service does not mean that they can see the information you’re sharing through it. When you connect to a VPN server, your real IP address will be replaced by the VPN server’s IP address so that your online activities can’t actually be linked back to you.

How Do I Hide VPN Traffic?

If you don’t want your ISP or other third parties to see that you are using a VPN connection, it is possible to hide it using obfuscated servers. A VPN will hide your normal traffic, and the obfuscated server will hide your use of a VPN service. Many premium providers offer access to obfuscated servers in case you want to hide your VPN traffic. Obfuscated servers can also be helpful if you need to overcome VPN blocks on streaming services like Netflix.

Can I Be Tracked by the Government with a VPN?

Typically, government authorities do not waste time tracking casual web users. The government will not track you unless there is a legal reason for them to be interested in your online activities. When authorities suspect an internet user of a crime, they may go to the ISP to request connection logs.

If the data logs reveal VPN connections, they may go to the VPN provider. However, if the VPN is a no-logging service, they will not have any information to present. There are few government authorities requesting information from VPN services as there are countless other ways of monitoring potential cybercriminals.

Can I Be Tracked with a Free VPN?

In recent years, more and more people are looking for VPNs to secure their privacy on the web. Therefore, countless VPNs are available on the market that all promise to provide complete online security and privacy. However, it is necessary to be cautious and careful when picking a VPN provider, as not all VPNs are created equal.

Although a no-cost VPN may sound like a tempting option, it is necessary to note that advanced VPN software requires significant resources and investment. Even free VPNs need to make a profit somehow, and many do so by malicious means. Typically such VPN providers sell your private information to advertisers and marketers for profit.

Many free VPN apps are so dangerous that more of your information is exposed than before downloading it. If you want to ensure your privacy is protected, we recommend avoiding free VPNs unless they come from a trustworthy provider.

When I Use a VPN, will my Real IP Address Be Hidden?

If you are concerned about your online privacy and wish to browse the internet anonymously, we recommend downloading and using a premium Virtual Private Network whenever you use the web. VPNs have become increasingly popular in recent years, as customers seek solutions to ensure their online activities are protected. Almost everything you do online, including the websites you visit, the personal information you share, and the content you stream, is linked to your IP address.

Your IP address is assigned to you by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and can be used by websites and services to identify you online. Your IP address can also be used to link your online activity back to you, your device, and your location.

When you use a VPN, you will be able to redirect your web traffic away from your ISP and replace your actual IP address with that of your chosen VPN server. By replacing your IP address with the server’s IP address, the websites and services you visit will no longer be able to see your geographical location or link your online activity back to you. A VPN is the only way to browse the web anonymously and without geo-restrictions.

VPNs have long been used in countries where social media and internet usage is censored or restricted. However, more and more customers are seeking VPNs to protect their online identity and enjoy complete freedom. Whether you want to protect your internet traffic or unlock overseas streaming content, a VPN is an excellent solution.

Best VPNs for Minimizing Your Chance of Being Tracked Online

If you are concerned about your internet privacy and want to minimize your chance of being tracked by your ISP, the government, or cybercriminals, we would recommend installing a VPN app from one of the best VPN providers.

The best VPNs will offer a host of advanced privacy features, including military-standard AES-256 bit encryption, support for safe protocols like OpenVPN and WireGuard, a reliable integrated kill-switch to protect your real IP address and unencrypted information if the VPN fails for any reason, obfuscated servers to mask your VPN usage, as well as multi-VPN encryption to re-route your traffic through multiple VPN servers simultaneously.

Here are the best VPNs to minimize your chance of being tracked online.

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is arguably the best VPN service on the market for user privacy protection on the internet. It is based in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands and delivers a host of advanced features to keep your activities safe.

  • Audited no-logs policy
  • Kill-switch
  • Military-grade encryption
  • 30-day refund guarantee
  • Protection from DNS leaks
  • Connect with Tor over VPN

ExpressVPN operates on military-grade encryption with a 4096-bit SHA-512 RSA certificate and HMAC to protect against real-time data alteration. There is perfect forward secrecy protection, too, to ensure a new encryption key is created upon the start of every session and every hour thereafter. This means that even if a third party gained access to your connection, they would get a maximum of one hour of VPN traffic data.

The VPN service also offers a range of obfuscated servers if you need to mask the fact that you are using a VPN. There is zero-knowledge DNS on every ExpressVPN server too, which eliminates the need for third-party intervention.

There is leak protection and a reliable integrated kill-switch that will cut your internet if the VPN fails for any reason. This ensures that no unencrypted information or your real IP address will ever be exposed. Moreover, ExpressVPN operates on completely RAM-only storage, which is much more secure than physical servers.

ExpressVPN also comes with a transparent independently-audited no-logs policy which means you can be assured that your online privacy and connection logs will remain safe when using the VPN.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN is another excellent VPN service with a host of advanced privacy features for a relatively affordable monthly price.

  • AES-256 bit encryption
  • Perfect forward secrecy
  • No-logs policy
  • 30-day refund guarantee
  • Wide device support
  • Connect with Tor over VPN

The VPN operates on industry-grade AES-256 bit encryption in combination with 4096-bit Diffie-Hellman keys. There is Perfect Forward Secrecy technology too, which means that new encryption keys are created when you log in and every hour thereafter.

Customers can also choose to re-route their connection through the Tor network for an additional layer of protection and access to Onion sites. There is Double VPN technology that will redirect your connection through two separate VPN server locations rather than just one. And, if you need to mask your use of a VPN, there are obfuscated servers too.

Like all of the best VPN services, Nord comes with an integrated kill-switch that will protect your internet traffic and IP address if the connection fails for any reason. There is complete DNS, WebRTC, and IP leak protection too. NordVPN also offers a clear, independently audited no-logs policy which states that no user data or IP addresses will ever be logged, shared, or misused by the VPN.

Prices start at just $3.71 a month as long as you’re happy to commit for longer. You’ll get the protection of a risk-free refund guarantee, giving you time to make up your mind before committing to a paid plan.

3. Surfshark

Surfshark delivers an impressive VPN service that offers all of the privacy features that we’ve come to expect from a premium provider. You can get the VPN for just $2.49 a month, too, as long as you’re happy to commit for 2 years.

  • No-logs policy
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • 30-day refund guarantee
  • Protection from DNS leaks
  • Access streaming and social media content from any country and search freely
  • Tor over VPN

Surfshark offers a host of impressive privacy features for an extremely affordable subscription price. The VPN hits all of the basics with support for OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, IKEv2, and WireGuard, combined with military-standard AES-256 bit encryption.

There is a reliable integrated kill-switch, too, that will ensure your private network traffic will never become exposed to prying eyes. If the VPN connection fails for any reason, the kill-switch will kick in to cut your web connection, preventing the transfer of unencrypted information and your real IP address.

Surfshark also offers its own secure DNS on every server location, which provides an additional layer of protection from malicious third parties that may be trying to spy on your online activities. There is also the option to enable a double VPN connection to re-route your data traffic through two different server locations rather than just one for even more privacy.

Moreover, Surfshark is based in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands, which is a real positive for security-conscious customers that wish to remain completely anonymous online. Surfshark is therefore not obligated to log any VPN usage data, which is excellent for their users’ privacy.

The provider offers an excellent transparent no-log policy. It states that it will never log any data traffic, including IP addresses, browsing history, downloaded files, accessed VPN server locations, bandwidth used, VPN session, VPN connection timestamps, or internet traffic data. The only information that the VPN stores are your billing details and the email address you entered when you created your account.

Surfshark completed an independent audit of its browser extensions. The browser extension audit was carried out by security company Cure53 and culminated in a ‘highly satisfied’ rating. Despite that this is highly reassuring, we would like to see the provider complete further audits of its clients and software. ExpressVPN and NordVPN, for example, have completed more extensive independent security audits.

4. CyberGhost

CyberGhost is another excellent security solution that will protect all of your web data. There is a transparent no-logs policy, military-grade encryption, P2P support, and a reliable integrated kill-switch.

  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • No-logs policy
  • Military-grade encryption
  • DNS leak protection
  • Bypass geo-restrictions
  • Protect yourself from DDoS attacks

CyberGhost utilizes military-grade AES-256 bit encryption, which is the best available. The VPN is also transparent about its data logging activities and offers a strict no-logs policy. CyberGhost states that browsing history, accessed websites, shared data, IP addresses, connection timestamps, and internet searches are not logged or stored by the VPN. Unfortunately, it has not yet been independently audited.

The VPN also offers torrenting support, making it an excellent choice for customers that want to protect their P2P sharing activities. There is even a handy server filtering feature to instantly find the best P2P-optimized server locations. You can also have the VPN automatically connect when you launch a particular torrenting client to ensure you’re always protected.

The CyberGhost apps also come with an integrated tracker and ad blocker and protection from malicious websites. There is also the option to choose which server the VPN automatically connects to when you turn on your device. There is a reliable integrated kill-switch, too, that will protect your real IP address and any unencrypted data if the VPN fails for any reason.

CyberGhost comes with an industry-leading 45-day money-back guarantee, meaning you can test the product fully before committing to a paid plan. Prices are affordable, too, starting at just $2.25 a month if you’re happy to commit to a longer-term plan.

Author Cliff Durward

Hi, I'm Cliff. I'm based in Cleveland, Ohio, with my wife and two kids. I have a keen interest in cybersecurity and have been writing about it for around a decade now. Due to my background in computer science, I am familiar ...
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