How’s that VPN working for you? I mean, is it actually?

Locked up Keyboard from PixabayI had something interesting happen this week. I’ll state upfront that I have a financial incentive to push VPNs, as do any people saying “you should get a VPN.” I can make half of what you pay in a year for referring you. Yes, it’s that great of a market.

TL;DR this is probably a “well duh,” article to anyone in security or heavily into covering their tracks.

As a reviewer I get offers to play with VPNs all the time. I mean seriously, one of these places should just post an ad saying “here, half price VPN” and cut out sites like ours.

As such I’m playing with VPNs all the time whether I feel the need to or not. I mean I also don’t want your privacy invaded, which is my primary concern, but damn that’s some decent referral money and I’m not going to lie about it.

This week I had a rare quadruple VPN failure. It was enough to make me think I was being spied on, which if you are you’re going to find a very boring middle aged man who reads comics, watches overseas television, has an insane YouTube history caused by my kids watching YouTube Kids, and not much else that I’d admit publically.

The first started when I turned on a VPN on my phone. I saw it connecting, got distracted, came back and was browsing some region restricted stuff when I realized I couldn’t play it. I looked and the VPN was just gone. The icon was there saying it was running but the notification area where it was supposed to go was gone. A quick look about the thing verified the VPN had crashed or otherwise unloaded from memory. I’d been surfing without protection. Eh, no big for me on this one.

The second started when I fired a different VPN up on my computer. Things were extremely slow. I contacted support, which was highly unhelpful, decided it might be due to something I was doing as an experiment (it wasn’t,) and realized from whatismyip that as the VPN slowed I seemed to be leaking into IPv6 space. This also wasn’t much of an issue as I was only using this to verify some websites we own and host were up from outside the building, but IPv6 leaks bad.

The third failure occurred Saturday night. I connected to my VPN, I noticed it took a little longer than it should. I popped open an app that refuses to move a byte’s worth of data if it’s not connected to the VPN and it informed me my VPN was not operating. RRRR?

I checked, it was connected, went and checked my ip both on google and whatismyip.com and sure enough, it was my home IP. I disconnected and reconnected several times and it did not solve the issue. I installed OpenVPN as I read that worked wonders and bypassed problems like this. OpenVPN did a little bit better and just failed over and over again rather than saying it was connected.

I rebooted and things started working on that computer. The only thing I can think of that would have caused that on the Windows 10 box I was using was I had attempted to set up a work VPN earlier in the day. Something with that had to have been the cause.

The fourth VPN failure was an operator fault. Don’t wine and VPN.

Once again, going to stress that other than attempting to watch something freely available on the other side of the planet I was doing nothing particularly sensitive. Each of these failures was almost transparent as an end user. I’ve also never had an issue with any VPN provider like this until this weekend when I had a lot of the fails.

So what are you attempting to sell us Paul?

Um, how about a subscription to Garden & Gun. I find it to be a pretty neat magazine.

Actually just attempting to raise your BS and skepticism when a VPN tells you they’re completely secure or a total solution to covering your tracks.

Badly designed software (be it the VPN, the OS, or whatever,) Facebook or tracking apps, yadda yadda yadda are going to put you at risk at all times.

Best Free VPN App for iPhone in 2021

Also don’t trust that you’re actually connected, regardless of what the VPN software claims, until you visit a website that will tell you your IP.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

4 thoughts on “How’s that VPN working for you? I mean, is it actually?

  • April 25, 2017 at 7:57 am
    Permalink

    My Samsung Note 4 starts up a VPN when I open Chrome. It came preinstalled.
    Is there a way to test it’s efficacy?

    Reply
    • April 25, 2017 at 8:54 am
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      go to whatismyip.com and see whether your IP is different than what it actually is.

      Hit up http://ipv6leak.com/ to see if you’re leaking around your VPN.

      Get an app that shows you what DNS server you’re currently using and verify that it’s not the carrier’s or ISP’s.

      Reply
      • April 27, 2017 at 9:34 am
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        What is my IP returned the same result on the 4 devices I checked, including the Note 4 running a VPN. I assume this is my modem or WiFi router?
        I checked the LG G5 while mobile,(the only one with a SIM right now) and as expected, I got a different result.
        I also ran the Leak check on a couple of devices and had “No Leaks”.

        I am more confused now on the whole subject. I don’t see how how any of this can be all that important as I am not a disident or upto anything “illegal “.
        Generally not an issue I am very concerned about anyway. Sure, I get adds for things I searched for, (much less often lately). But I also already bought the item, and their serving me up additional adds for it is a waste of their money and effort.
        If I didn’t buy it, I probably am not going to.

        These “privacy” concerns seem to be rhetoric, an opportunity to sell a product, much like anti virus protection for phones and tablets, to simple users who believe the hype, but never rooted or jailbroke, or participated in dissent or “illegal ” activity online.
        As I understand the issue, but, I am open to correction.

        Reply
        • April 28, 2017 at 8:16 am
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          I’ll give you a few scenarios – we use advertising as the easiest, piracy is the second most easy to comprehend.

          Your browsing history is sold to the highest bidder, not just advertisers, and then to everyone else willing to pay for it.

          You don’t get a job or lose a job because you visited a website (eg going to monsterjobs, spending a lot of time on a competitor’s website while at home, etc)

          You don’t get a government position because your kid’s friend came over and on your network searched for how to hack the government or downloaded the Anarchist’s Cookbook.

          You’re algorithmically not contacted for contact back for employment due to the browsing history caused by other people on your wifi.

          You get in a dispute with ISP over an unreturned cable modem. They extort you with the threats of releasing every video you watched on insert porn site name here.

          You’re appointed to a cabinet position and every single website and the views, videos, etc are brought up to attack your character.

          Admittedly a stretch here, but your browsing history going to a spouse/SO who’s looking for a reason.

          You’re profiled by the local PD as a person of interest due to sites you visited.

          I don’t do anything interestingly illegal, however I don’t want everything I do on the internet brought up without context one day by a future employer, angry ex, etc to screw with my life because someone purchased my browsing history.

          Reply

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