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Some things VPN can’t protect you from

Some things VPN can’t protect you from

By Dankwa Prince

VPNs have become a popular tool to mask online identities and encrypt data, but they don’t make users completely anonymous. A VPN only secures the connection between your device and server – it doesn’t change the security of your actual computer or device. If malware is installed, or you use risky public WiFi networks, personal data could still be exposed.

VPNs also can’t prevent physical threats. Criminals with access to your laptop, phone or home network would see any locally-stored files and data. Basic safety practices like antivirus software and strong passwords are still essential alongside a VPN. Your security is only as strong as its weakest link.

While a VPN hides your IP address, digital fingerprinting can still reveal your identity. Factors like the sites visited, devices used, timezone and browser configuration leave behind clues. Data brokers continuously build profiles based on these fingerprints.

Public WiFi poses security risks even with a VPN. Rogue hotspots, insecure networks and other nearby users can potentially intercept traffic before or after it hits the encrypted VPN connection. Sensitive data could be exposed. The only way to fully secure public WiFi is avoiding private matters on such networks whenever possible.

VPNs have limited jurisdiction over government surveillance too. Providers are subject to the laws of their home country. Under pressure, most would be forced to comply with requests and hand over data. The most sophisticated hackers and regimes may still be able to uncover your information too. There are no perfect solutions against entire nation-states.

Certain online activities can still expose your real IP like browser extensions, streaming services, torrenting and smart devices. Adversaries can use these to deduce your location and identity. A VPN alone isn’t an invisibility cloak for all digital behavior.

While VPNs provide useful security, they shouldn’t lull users into a false sense of complete anonymity. Basic safety practices like secure passwords and avoiding risks are still crucial alongside VPN usage for the best online protection. A VPN is just one layer – an integrated approach is needed.

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