More About VPNs

A downside to using a VPN and what you can do about it.

by Steve
2 min read
More About VPNs

People like you and me use a VPN so that others – our spy friend above, a hacker, an Internet provider – can't monitor our activity or even tell where we are physically located. But consider how this secrecy looks to a legitimate business.

Many financial institutions worry when someone tries to log into an account while hiding their actual location. Bad actors, from kid hackers in their bedrooms to Nation-state agencies, do this intentionally. When I check how my investments are doing, I appear to be trying to hide my location. It's the nature of using a VPN.

Some websites will deny access if they can tell that you're using a VPN. Some for understandable reasons, some not. The trouble is, when a site decides to deny access, they rarely say, "Turn off your VPN and you can sign in." Like Spy vs. Spy, they don't want you to know that they know that you're using a VPN. So instead you get some misleading message like "User name or password is incorrect", or simply "Something went wrong." This can drive you crazy until you remember that your VPN may be causing the problem. All you can do is turn it off temporarily, and that kind of defeats the point of having one.

Some otherwise excellent VPN providers don't devote much effort to making their service undetectable. Others make their invisibility a selling feature. Even a VPN provider that tries to be invisible may not be 100% successful. It's an arms race.

Depending on where you bank and what else you do on the Internet, the "detectability" of your VPN may not be an issue. But it is for me. Not only do I deal with various companies that block VPNs, but the current generation of AI Assistants don't like VPNs either.

So I'm going to modify my advice from my previous post about VPNs. If your VPN is not causing you problems, I still recommend Mulvad. It's reliable, secure, and inexpensive. But if you're tired of having to turn your VPN off to talk to your bank, for example, I suggest that you consider NordVPN or ExpressVPN. They are more expensive than Mulvad, but you may get a discounted price for your first subscription.

If I were a target of spying by a Nation-state and my life or liberty depended on absolute security, I would stick with Mulvad. But that's not me. I just want to be protected from snoopers on hotel and coffee shop networks while at the same time not having to deal with bogus "error" messages from sites I frequently use. So until you hear otherwise, I'll be on a more undetectable VPN.

Like my little spy? Dall-E drew him for me using this request: "A cartoon spy similar to the ones in Spy vs. Spy from Mad magazine, listening to a telephone conversation, with a light blue background, in landscape aspect."

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