Many users encrypt their connections with a VPN because they want to protect their data and hide their activity. But can a VPN be traced by anyone? Are there any entities capable of seeing what you are doing? To answer that, we will have a look at everyone who can see that you are using a VPN, and also what do they know.
Who knows you are using a VPN?
Appart from you, there are three kinds of entities that know you use a VPN:
Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can see your connection is encrypted by a VPN. Remember that they won’t have access to your activity anymore, everything’s encrypted. They just know you have a VPN software. This is perfectly legal and they won’t have any problem with that.
Any government institution (or related agency) that tries to monitor your activity will be blocked by the VPN encryption. They will have the knowledge that you have the protection of a Virtual Private Network. Again, a VPN is legal and no one can do anything to a user just because of using this type of software.
Obviously, your VPN provider knows that you use a VPN. This may sound very clear and obvious to you now, but in the next chapter, you will understand why we are mentioning the provider.
The VPN provider you chose is important
Choosing a good VPN software, from a reputable provider, is a very important thing when it comes to being untraceable. If you are one of those people that think that every VPN will do exactly the same thing, then think again. The wrong choice of provider can expose your activity. There are a few factors that can make a huge difference:
A non-logging VPN
This should be the first thing to look at when considering getting a VPN. It’s essential that you make sure that the VPN you are about to get doesn’t save your activity logs. In other words, you don’t want a provider that saves your activity. Knowing that someone has your activity logs defeats the whole purpose of being anonymous. In case some agency contacts your VPN, asking them for the logs of their users, it’s good to know that the VPN didn’t save anything.
The Location of the VPN Company
The location where your VPN provider is based is also important. The thing to have in mind is that some countries have data retention laws. And in those places, the governments are entitled to ask any VPN located in the same country about their user’s info and activity logs. By law, the VPN has to give them what they ask.
As we saw before, if the VPN doesn’t save logs, they won’t have user data to give them. But, choosing a VPN that is based in a country without data retention laws, gives you another layer of security. You basically know that your VPN won’t have to cooperate with any agencies that make this kind of requests.
A VPN can make all the difference, but it’s up to you to make a responsible choice. Selecting a proper VPN is something that will take a bit of time researching, but it’s completely worth it. You can also have a look at our non-logging VPN suggestions, in case you want our opinion.
We also want to make clear that, when writing this post, we assumed that you are using a good encryption and you have your VPN settings properly tweaked. Head over to our article about VPN settings to have a better knowledge of how to change them.
For example, if you are using a poor encryption that will be easily decrypted, then everything changes. In that case, the advises we gave you above, such as the location of a VPN, won’t do anything for you. The same goes for the protocol, if you use a weak one, such as PPTP, you are asking for trouble. Make sure you maximize your safety right after getting a new VPN.