There are two main aspects to look at when thinking about the future of VPN: The social/legal aspect and the technical aspect.
Social and legal issues will become an even bigger challenge for Internet users in the future: The U.S. and other countries are currently dismantling net neutrality with potentially dire consequences for users. The use of VPN may become a necessity even for simple things like making sure you can access the content you like with the best possible speed. While it is currently still legal to use a VPN in almost all countries, this may not be so in the future.
There are already exceptions like Turkey, Iran or China where the use of VPNs are forbidden or heavily restricted (only government-approved VPNs allowed). For this reason it is essential that the VPN provider is not registered in countries where this is already a problem or could be a problem in the future.
This also includes the Five-Eyes countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) where there is reasonable fear that traffic will be intercepted, monitored and logged and where copyright violations are punished rather severely.
Some VPN companies circumvent that by registering in territories where neither US nor EU laws apply and private data protection laws are relatively high. The technical aspect is responsibility of the VPN provider: First and foremost, they must ensure the security and anonymity of their users.
Many VPN providers do not take this very seriously: By checking the small print in their terms of service one often finds that they actually log session data, including IP addresses and timestamps which make it easy to identify users in retrospective. They choose not to log any IP addresses, traffic or timestamps, neither do they retain any other data that would allow the de-anonymization of our users. Best practice includes running dedicated servers on encrypted images with no user data is ever stored on disk. But there is more to the technical side than just security: It is also about the features and functionality the service provides.
To list just a few of extra features to add to your check list:
- Cascaded connections through up to four different VPN services which provides extra security in the unlikely case a certain data centre is compromised.
- TrackStop filter: Server sided DNS filter that blocks ads, phishing and malware content on all devices. Full IPv6 Support (necessary if the user's ISP provides IPv6 so there is no IP/DNS leak) and an unlimited number of simultaneous connections.
- AI based routing: This means that user's connections will be routed depending on where he is connecting to; it will route the traffic within the VPN network to the VPN server closest to the destination server. This works for every connections individually, meaning that if a user visits a website hosted in Japan, most likely a Tokyo location will be used as exit server, while visiting a European website in another browser tab will use a European VPN server as exit. Not only does that guarantee the lowest possible latency (ping response time) but also makes sure that all traffic remains within the VPN network as long as possible.
Another cool side effect is that a user will have different IPs on different websites, making it much harder to track a specific user. In summary, in the future VPN will remain a necessary tool for many users for security and legal reasons. At the same time advances in technology and computing power allow for various cool feature that will distinguish cheap providers from the ones with premium features and functionality.
Christian Schmidt, Perfect Privacy
Image Credit: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek / Shutterstock
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