Do VPNs Need Better Industry Standards?

An article earlier this year in the international online edition of the South China Morning Post suggests that many VPN providers may be overstating their privacy value. The article suggests that the VPN industry needs better standards and quality controls which will result in a genuine increase of privacy and security for VPN users.

Better standards or better VPN providers?

It is somewhat interesting that these opinions were published in a Chinese newspaper. In recent years China has seen many people turn to VPN use as a means of circumventing the Great Firewall, China’s aggressive program of Internet censorship. Researchers in Britain and Italy decided to assess a number of prominent VPN providers to see if there were security flaws present in their platforms.

In the study it was discovered that providers such as Hide My Ass and Hotspot Shield were susceptible to leaks and DNS hijacking. The inherent problem with the study, however, is that it fails to distinguish between private VPNs and web-based proxy services which are two very different things. Many of the providers cited in the research are not VPN providers at all in the strictest sense; most offer free or low-cost access to a web-based service. Some of them also provide VPN service for a fee which purportedly offers better security.

This would seem to suggest that the problem is not with VPNs but with some of the providers that have sought to capitalize on an increased interest in privacy by offering substandard services. The quest for profit also encourages many free proxies to sell user data to marketing companies or even embed JavaScript for the purposes of advertising that is targeted to user interests.

What about the reviews?

Something else researchers found was that many of these free proxy providers also engaged in a deceptive form of marketing whereby they created bogus review sites to tout their proxy services. In this case potential customers were given information that was misleading or blatantly incorrect in order to entice them into a purchase. It seems like these proxy providers are engaging in a classic bait and switch technique. They lure in potential customers with the promise of free “VPN” service which is actually access to a proxy and then attempt to sell them an enhanced service.

The evidence is clear that using web-based proxies can expose surfers to security flaws. What the article in the South China Morning Post actually does is expose the fraudulent nature of many free, web-based proxies.

Does your VPN provider meet privacy standards?

Any VPN provider you choose should be able to meet a few basic criteria. At we hold ourselves to industry standards that inspire confidence and demonstrate a commitment to your personal security:

  • A paid but affordable VPN. Free proxies are often anything but as they could end up costing you a lot of money when your data is breached. The word “free” is often a red flag. We paid but affordable VPN protection.
  • Excellent customer service. Our representatives are always ready and willing to assist you with any concerns you may have about your VPN service. We do not disappear as soon as you make your VPN purchase.
  • Industry standard encryption protocols. Our VPNs are safeguarded with L2TP and PPTP protocols for privacy.
  • No third-party ads. Our VPNs are not supported by ads and do not alter the appearance of websites you visit like some free proxy providers.
  • No logging. We do not log user preferences or browsing data like many proxy services who sell that information to marketing companies.

The last word on VPN industry standards

Perhaps the researchers in Great Britain and Italy are right in suggesting that better standards are needed in the VPN industry, but they fail to address providers like that are serving their customers with a high degree of satisfaction. The VPN industry does not need better standards as much as it needs a distinction from companies that deceive users by promoting proxies as VPNs.

The best testimony in this regard will often come from VPN users themselves. Each month we receive many emails in which users state their happiness with our VPN product. Do not rely on the false promises of proxy providers only to discover that your browsing data has been compromised.

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