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Can You Be Tracked If Using VPN

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Virtual Private Network (VPN) is in itself a privacy tool that has a long list of features that are known to many. However, there are questions regarding the authenticity of a VPN and the concern that can VPN be traced or not?

Trusting every VPN in the present era isn’t a good idea. This is because; there are many malicious entities that could use the VPN popularity for a virulent purpose and also the snooping techniques are becoming advanced.

In this article, we will discuss some of the major reasons which have

Do VPNs Work in Every Case?

A VPN uses the principle of encryption and IP obscuring to provide a secure connection between the device and the VPN server. All the user data is encrypted through VPN tunneling and is sent to the internet which prevents malicious activity due to data snooping.

Due to these VPN features, it is used for many reasons such as website unblocking, secure torrenting, bypassing ISP throttling, remaining secure while being on public Wi-Fi, and other reasons.

Anonymity doesn’t mean that your activity becomes invisible, yet it could not be traced back to you. For instance, your torrenting is visible to anyone including your ISP but they could see it with a false VPN IP address and nobody could trackback to your real IP address if your VPN is working fine.

Unfortunately, there are certain flaws that could make your real IP address visible even with a VPN connection. If you have previously searched for VPN details then you might be aware of these flaws and if not, here is a quick glance at it.

IP Leak

IP leak occurs due to many reasons but with a VPN you IP leaks mainly due to the DNS requests. Most of the devices have a default setting of ISP DNS server through which all the internet DNS requests are processing and the internet provider is able to monitor all the user activity.

However, when a VPN is connected, it changes the device’s DNS settings to the anonymous VPN DNS servers. Through such settings, it is made sure that the website you are accessing as well as your internet provider remains unaware of your real IP address.

Unfortunately, sometimes your device settings revert back to the default ISP DNS servers in the presence of VPN and it remains ignored. This makes your real IP address visible to the internet provider and to the online entities.

There are many reasons for the reverting of default DNS settings, yet a VPN with DNS leak protection could avoid this issue with continuous monitoring that every DNS request is produced by the VPN DNS or not.

This type of leak is also known as DNS leak.

WebRTC Leak

WebRTC leak is not a VPN fault, but it could make your IP visible in the presence of a VPN provider, and you can be traced.

It is a relatively new browser feature that helps in real time communication without an added extension or plug-in. The WebRTC working and phenomenon is a bit complicated as well as deep which you can get in detail here.

Yet, the main thing to know is that a website could take advantage of WebRTC feature to access IP details from STUN server, using a simple script. The STUN server is also used by VPN to translate local IP address to a new public IP address and vice versa. Through this procedure, the STUN server creates a table containing VPN based public IP as well as user’s real IP address in the presence of VPN.  Therefore, with the help of JavaScript, these requests could be used to get the user’s local and public IP address.

Also, this feature is default enabled in most of the popular browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. That’s how you are unwittingly leaking your IP address in the presence of VPN.

Who Can Trace You While Connected to a VPN

The above examples of IP leak and tracing possibilities are when a VPN lacks somewhere. However, there are some aspects of VPN tracking which we often neglect as a VPN user.

Almost all the VPN providers sell the point that they are completely safe and secure with zero logging policy. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to figure out or confirm such claim from a VPN service. There is no VPN provider which doesn’t keep a single piece of data but it is important to know the kind and the amount of data stored.

VPNs mostly state that they don’t keep logs and further in their privacy policy they state the details of data they store. Also, they keep such clauses vague and therefore, most users neglect them.

VPN providers logging user’s web activity, login and log out times. They also keep IP addresses and duration of browsing could be more than what should be stored. However, according to them, the reason behind logging user details is to enhance the customer experience. Also, to make sure that no illegal activities are being carried out. But, is it definite that the information retained will remain with VPN provider only?

The surveillance agencies such as NSA could force VPN management to provide them with the user information. That’s why some reputable VPN services don’t keep logs to vanish the possibilities of such compelling.

How Could You Lessen The Chances of VPN Tracing  

The possibilities of VPN tracking could be reduced through some considerations before selecting a VP service.

Check out the VPN’s Home Country

Before selecting a VPN for yourself you should check the “About us” page or information regarding the VPN. Knowing the home country of provider is important. It is because the location determines about privacy laws which could force the provider in the future.

Must read the VPN’s privacy policy carefully

It is really important to read the details of VPN’s privacy policy before selecting it. The VPN service which cares about user’s privacy, keep the policy clear and simple which is easily understood.  

Legitimate VPN providers keep as less data as possible. For instance, they could only demand the name, email address, payment data, and billing address. They do this so that they could proceed for VPN subscription. Also, they clearly mention in their privacy policy that they wouldn’t log the user’s IP address, connection times, and bandwidth usage.

Remember to use additional privacy tools to check VPN efficacy

With the other entire pre-to-do list, you should take the assistance of additional privacy tools. By doing so you can check if you are being tracked in the VPN presence or not. Tools such as DNS test, IP leak test, and WebRTC leak test could provide you details about VPN’s performance.

Final Words

Anyone who is concerned for their privacy and VPN efficacy must have a question that, can VPN be traced or not?

A loyal answer to this is yes, a VPN could be traced. There are numerous VPNs out there and very few are authentic along with the reputable features. The VPN provider could anytime see the data and traffic of a user. Thus, you have to trust the promises made by a VPN.

VPNs are good in many ways but nothing is perfect. Therefore, remember to check the above-mentioned details before selecting a VPN provider.

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Rebecca James is an IT consultant with forward thinking approach toward developing IT infrastructures of SMEs. She writes to engage with individuals and raise awareness of digital security, privacy, and better IT infrastructure.

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