VPNs to Avoid Until they Plug Their Leaks

You know that here at Lawyerist, we are all about encouraging you to safeguard your data, and one of the ways to do that is to make sure you use a virtual private network (VPN) when you are using the coffee shop’s wi-fi connection.

VPNs function in a few different ways, but at root they are supposed to do one thing, and do it well: create a private tunnel for you to treat that coffee shop wi-fi like your very own and access client files with abandon knowing that they are secure.

Yeah, about that.

Five researchers from London and Rome have documented that 14 of the top commercial virtual private networks leak IP data. They tested the top client software versions of well-known providers such as Hide My Ass, PrivateInternetAccess and IPVanish. Their test environment simulated users trusting a VPN to protect the data transmission. Unfortunately, there is precious little protection.

That is not good. Essentially, it means the top tools people use to secure their data are not very secure at all and expose significant portions of your web traffic to the public. Our beloved Cloak is not on the list of leaky VPNs, but that may simply be because it was not one of the networks tested.

The lesson here is that your data is never entirely secure. That does not mean you should pull down all your client files from the Internet and return to carving things into stone tablets, but it does mean that you need to be ever-vigilant. Data security is hard, and you need to work at it, and that is the price you pay for living in a digital world.

Lisa Needham
Lisa Needham is a contract writer & editor at Lawyerist.com, helps direct the legal writing program at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, and still believes in the Oxford comma.

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