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VPN companies tell us you're not safe if you're not using a VPN.

What I'm trying to understand is why, as a home user using the internet at large, a VPN into some VPN hosting company and from there out into the internet is any better (security wise) than going out into the internet from my ISP?

I understand that if I VPN from home into work then it makes sense: the other end of the VPN from me is inside the work secured network, so my traffic is not exposed to the internet.

But for day to day individual use why is it better from a security perspective to come out onto the internet from a VPN hosting company compared to from the ISP?

(I'm aware of, and not really asking about, commercial considerations/benefits such as being able to access content, or affect ads etc)

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The assumptions here is that the VPN provider is running from a country that are one or more:

  1. have more freedom than your own, especially if you live in oppressive or very conservative countries, your local internet provider or government may block content/site to materials that they do not want you to have access to (e.g. politically sensitive materials, or things they consider "morally inappropriate"),

  2. doesn't have jurisdiction to physically arrest or harass you. Even if the country have Intel exchange agreement with your residence country, often multi jurisdictional police work are too much a hassle to follow through on smaller infringements,

  3. if your local internet service provider is known to snoop into your internet usage or even sometimes alter content (often ads), and because of monopoly, you can't really switch to a different provider. Legal protection against such snooping may be weak or nonexistent in your country, or they may actually be the one requiring provider to do such snooping.

  4. to bypass geoblocking of copyrighted materials, there are many cases where you can't even legally purchase a movies/show from your home country for any money, so you may prefer to use a VPN that runs from a country where you can access and purchase the material from a trustworthy overseas content provider, instead of from seedy underground services

  5. If your country doesn't have strong net neutrality protection, your local internet provider may have business dealings that aren't in your best interest. For example, they may block or shape traffic from competing content providers or limit resolution because they want you to purchase their overpriced TV service.

  • So does this mean that if you are in the privileged position of being in a first-world country, where really 1,2,3 does not apply, then a personal VPN into the internet is not a security benefit? Note that 4 & 5 are not security issues (they are considerations, but more commercial than security related). Even 3 is only marginally about security - it's mostly just about ad functionality. – GreenAsJade Oct 22 '19 at 1:17
  • @GreenAsJade: even in first world countries, well especially in first world countries, there are dragnet surveillance programs like US's PRISM (well unless you don't consider US a first world country, which is questionable). Unlike the laughably inept attempts by third world countries who often don't have the technical resources and capabilities to make an effective dragnet surveillance, which first world countries actually do. – Lie Ryan Oct 22 '19 at 3:06
  • @GreenAsJade: While they may not be targeting you specifically, as a law abiding citizen, the nature of dragnet surveillance means that all sorts of law abiding citizens gets caught as well. There's no telling what an individual agent might do when they accidentally get a large list of credit card numbers/blackmailable secrets/etc while working on unrelated case. There's no telling what the agencies themselves may do when they discover your personal data while investigating your roommate/your neighbour/the guy who sold you sofa/anonymous internet friend you occasionally chat with. – Lie Ryan Oct 22 '19 at 3:11
  • @GreenAsJade: Yes some of these are probably a bit paranoid, but it's good to be slightly paranoid and somewhat skeptical of things like this. – Lie Ryan Oct 22 '19 at 3:12
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    @GreenAsJade I wouldn't assume that 1, 2, or 3 don't apply in first-world countries. The UK recently dropped it's plans to block certain content, but that such a plan existed shows that it's at least a possibility. There's a long history of ISPs injecting content (like ads) in countries which lack consumer protections (like the US). And ads are a good way to distribute malware. That's not saying that you need VPN (especially as HTTPS is becoming the default). – tim Oct 22 '19 at 8:35
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Most reputed VPN organizations have a "no log" policy and generally will encrypt your traffic.

If your ISP was hacked, your data such as Internet history would be directly traceable back to you, which is not the case if you use a VPN to browse the internet. Some countries even take torrenting seriously, so if you're an avid user of torrents, using a VPN will be your best option.

If you were given the choice of trusting your ISP vs trusting a VPN provider with your data security/privacy, I highly suggest you to ask yourself how much you like your anonymity - if you couldn't care less about the footprints you create online, stick with your ISP. If you don't want everything you're doing to be logged and revisited in the future, use a VPN.

Think about it this way if you must, unlike an ISP, a VPN's main priority is the security of your data, a VPN provider who overlooks your privacy would quickly fail in the market and lose to it's competitors.

But, of course, choose your VPN provider wisely. Don't go for the cheaper option, unless your goal is to just watch Netflix in China or unban a few porn sites (which can still be dangerous depending on the severity of the action to the government).

If privacy is your goal, do your research and pick a VPN that works for you, I personally recommend ExpressVPN.

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    Using a VPN does not make you magically untraceable. It merely moves the point of interception to the VPN service provider. All else being equal, the chances of an ISP getting hacked is about the same as the chance of a VPN provider being hacked. And no matter what the VPN provider's public marketing tells you, all VPN provider that have stayed in business for some time co-operate with the police on the jurisdiction of their own residence. IMHO, this answer oversells the benefits of using VPN. – Lie Ryan Oct 22 '19 at 10:36
  • @LieRyan Never said it makes you "magically untraceable" and neither did I mention that VPN providers are harder to hack than ISP's, but a VPN provider with a no logging policy is much safer than an ISP which records all your data. In the case of a hack, which do you think has a higher chance of leading back to you? Also, I wonder which VPN providers you're talking about,because privacy policies exist and well reputed providers would never give away their information without a court order, by your argument, a VPN's only use would be to bypass blocked websites? – s h a a n Oct 22 '19 at 10:50
  • All active VPN provider's co-operate with the jurisdiction they're in. It doesn't matter what the privacy policy says, if a provider is served a court/gag order by the appropriate authority, it will do so, or they'll get shut down. If the authority tells them to build an interception capacity, they'll do so. – Lie Ryan Oct 22 '19 at 10:55
  • Agreed, as I said before, with a court order they could take your information (if stored). However, again, a VPN provider with a no logging policy that keeps absolutely no information on them would not really have any information to give to the authorities. – s h a a n Oct 22 '19 at 10:58
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    No logging policy is for the most part a marketing ploy. It's a promise that you can never independently verify. It is safe to assume that all VPN provider will start logging when the authorities order them to do so, and even if the staffs all are idealists that rather chose to get arrested rather than give way, the authorities can just confiscate the equipments and do it themselves. It's important to understand the limitations of VPN, they only move the point of interception, to another jurisdiction that's hopefully more favorable, they don't make your footprints disappear or untraceable. – Lie Ryan Oct 22 '19 at 11:18
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  • Attackers can track your connection while they are in your network.
  • Your ISP can track your connection.
  • Also, somehow, attackers can find your IP address and attack you or learn your some informations like location, ISP.

So, you I recommend you to use a VPN. You should be careful while choosing a VPN.

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