I am looking about buying a year pass from Private Internet Access. I am wondering how secure using a vpn is? I have a basic technical idea of how a VPN works, but I still would like to put my mind at ease.

The only person(s) who should be able to see what I'm doing on the internet (aside from seeing I'm using a vpn, just not what I'm using the vpn to do/connect to) are myself, the VPN servers, and then the person I'm connecting to (but they see the vpn, not me). Correct? So my ISP (a home internet provider or university, or someone else), someone connected to the same network as me (home, uni, elsewhere), and people on that public internet cafe that is convenient can't see anything I do (except, again the vpn). Correct?

So I should feel safe p2p file sharing, watching pr0n, or doing my bank anywhere with a vpn?

From what I've read, I've see that vpn secure your internet traffic; but from whom exactly?

Thank's for the help, or if you could point me to another question/resource that answers my question (that I couldn't find), I would appreciate it.

  • 1
    How much do you trust your VPN provider? Your answer is the tldr answer to this question.
    – tangrs
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 1:09
  • 1
    There are many questions on this site about VPNs. You should search. Commented May 9, 2016 at 1:41

3 Answers 3


VPN secures your traffic from people that can't get into your VPN service provider's system, legally or not.

Law enforcements can issue lawful warrants to intercept your VPN communications, and hackers may be able to hack into VPN provider's internal control system. VPN employees can be bribed or they may fall into social engineering, these risks are no different than ISPs.

VPN is mostly useful if you don't trust your ISP. For instance, if your local ISP offer the best speed to price ratio but you have suspicions that they snoop in ads into your traffic, or is blocking sites that you want to access, or if you suspect they are monitoring your traffic and sell your browsing data to unwanted parties.

Another situation where VPN could be useful is if you don't trust your local, possibly oppressive governments, then you can use overseas VPN where the VPN provider is located in a more liberal country, to make it difficult for your local government to single handedly spy on your traffic. Your VPN provider will still be liable to their own government though, and will most definitely hand over data of a single customer than to shut down their entire business.

Whether a VPN service will obey warrants from foreign governments or even their local governments depends on the VPN service. There may be some principled providers that will rather shut down than to hand over data, but would you trust them to do so?


You can feel reasonably secure, but it's important to note that a VPN isn't a one-stop-shop. It's not bulletproof and if you do something that compromises your security, the use of a VPN is almost null and void. VPNs aim to secure your internet traffic from anyone that could be construed as malicious. In the case of illegal P2P transfers, a VPN helps obscure your identity so the ISP isn't able to point at you and say "you're definitely torrenting." Private Internet Access (PIA) offers traffic encryption which I find to be really nice and useful.

It's definitely safer to use a VPN than not using one, however, it really depends on what you're doing. If you're just doing "normal" things such as checking Facebook, reading a blog, or browsing StackExchange, there's no huge need for a VPN. If you're doing something you'd prefer to keep hidden, a VPN isn't a terrible idea. Paid VPNs tend to be better than free VPNs and in the long run you may find it useful to spend a bit of money on a VPN, even if it's not a necessity it's something to have some experience in. Some companies require you use a VPN to log in to do work from home or something like that, so it can't hurt to know how VPNs work, what they effect, and similar.


Safer than not using a VPN. As long as the p2p file sharing are files that you have rights to and the pr0n watching is 18-and-over the VPN will work fine! Yes, you are correct and the VPN will protect your privacy and online surfing as you describe. If you don't have your own server, a pay-to-play VPN is money well spent.

  • What, and if you're downloading things you don't legally have the right to, a VPN suddenly stops working?
    – forest
    Commented Dec 16, 2017 at 6:44

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