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The impossible task of creating a Best VPNs list today

  • Leader
    December 26, 2019
    For the security minded, one of the scariest revelations from the
    now three-year-old Snowden leaks had nothing to do with accommodating
    ISPs (shocking) or overreaching and often vague anti-terrorism practices
    and policy (an even bigger shock, right?). Instead, when news trickled
    out about matters like the National Security Agency’s Vulcan data
    repository or its Diffie-Hellman strategy, online privacy advocates
    found themselves quaking. Suddenly, seemingly everyone had to
    re-evaluate one of the most often used tools for maintaining a shred of
    anonymity online—the VPN.VPN

    VPNs, or virtual private networks, are typically used to obfuscate
    users’ IP addresses and to add a layer of security to Web browsing. They
    work by routing traffic through a secure, encrypted connection to the
    VPN’s server. The reasons for using VPNs vary. Some people use VPNs to
    change their IP address so they can access location-specific media
    content in a different geographic location or download things on torrent
    that are less likely to be traced back to them. Others hope to minimize
    online tracking from advertisers, prevent the negative effects of rogue
    access to Wi-Fi networks, or even just obfuscate their IP address to
    specific sites they visit.

    Not all VPNs are alike, however. In fact, poorly configured VPNs can
    make users more vulnerable in various ways. Some ban torrenting
    altogether. Others log information, either for maintenance reasons, to
    track abuse, or in accordance with their local data retention laws.

    Last year, I set out to put together a list of the best current VPNs for
    Ars. Although there are multiple “top VPN” lists available online, they
    are often riddled with affiliate links, making it hard to ascertain
    their accuracy. An independent online VPN comparison chart outlines VPN
    business practices, logging, service configuration, and other features,
    pinpointing contradictory policies and misleading claims that various
    services are 100 percent effective. But much of the information is still
    likely compiled from the actual VPN websites, meaning some misleading
    marketing claims could sneak in.

    Several months of research later, I have failed. Today, I still can’t
    make good faith recommendations for VPNs that guarantee the safety and
    security of interested users. Instead, the reporting process has only
    complicated my view of modern VPNs. Evaluating what works and what
    doesn’t isn’t always straightforward, and verifying the accuracy of this
    stuff isn’t easy either (especially when it comes to logging). So
    rather than a simple list of services to use, all I can offer are a
    handful of guidelines to keep in mind when determining if a VPN can be
    effective for you in 2016.When comes to the issue of online privacy and
    security, we suggest to use a VPN, and our recommendation is