A VPN is a great way to hide your internet activity from an Internet Service Provider and the rest of the public. It is one of the best ways to hide from snoopers and protect yourself from being tracked, but since we route all traffic via a VPN server, can a VPN service itself monitor their user internet activity?
Can VPN traffic and internet activity be monitored
All internet traffic is encrypted and routed via a VPN server hence the internet activity stays hidden only from ISP, hackers and the public, but, in theory, all internet activity can be monitored by a VPN service itself, since the company has full control of a VPN server and can see all your traffic.
It is important to know what internet activities a VPN can monitor. A VPN service can monitor and log your general connection information: this information may contain your IP address, the website you’re trying to reach IP address, the connection time and the amount of data transferred. This data is pretty general and usually aggregated, which does not say much about you in particular.
In-depth monitoring of internet activity might also include logging usage and traffic. These logs usually contain detailed information about specific user connections and along with the general connection information a data on specific files downloaded, websites visited, locations, protocols, times, search terms and user’s online behavior is monitored. This type of monitoring is usually a business model of free VPNs.
Free VPNs business model is selling your data
One can say, there is nothing free, you pay for it in other ways and this applies to free VPNs. In order to earn money free VPNs not only monitor or log your internet activity, but their business model is to sell your data to advertisers, collectors, and third parties. They allow to use their service for free while monitoring all of your internet activities, track you online and sell this data for advertisers to target you all over the internet.
Some free VPN applications are so malicious that they can take control of your device: they could access the media files, private messages, phone numbers and anything stored on the phone’s memory. It is best to avoid free VPNs whatsoever, but if not free, then what?
Strict no-log policy VPNs do not monitor internet activity
In order to tackle the internet activity monitoring problem, many VPNs state they have a strict no-log policy and they neither log nor monitor VPN user’s internet activity. While this sounds amazing – the reality is different.
Some commercial VPNs present the no-log policy as its feature, but it can be nothing more than just marketing. Some state of a no-logging policy, but actually they do log some information.
To prove that a no-log policy is not a fake and earn the trust of internet users’, the best VPNs that truly do not monitor ended up on a strict no-log audited VPNs list where all of them did an independent audit to prove no-logging claims. Only reputable and trustworthy VPNs keep your internet activity private and keep no logs and do not monitor any internet activities.
Why it is important to keep your internet activity private
There are a few reasons for keeping your internet activity private. Since VPN allows to access censored content almost anywhere in the world, keeping VPN users’ activity private would prevent anyone from knowing what you do online, what files downloading or using particular services. This prevents trackers and advertisers from targeting you online, governments and Internet Service Provider finding out your online behavior as well as hides torrenting traffic.
A VPN usually uses strong encryption, therefore provides security when browsing and snooping on your internet traffic becomes impossible. One more benefit is that sometimes a VPN prevents your ISP from bandwidth throttling making your browsing or downloading faster.
While hiding traffic from ISP, governments, hackers and the rest of the public, a VPN service can monitor or log all internet activity happening on the server. Monitoring is especially popular with free VPNs since they sell your data to advertisers and third parties. Commercial reputable and trustworthy VPNs such as NordVPN has strict no-log and no monitoring policies that were proved by an independent audit. VPN protects you from snooping, provides security and even may prevent bandwidth throttling.