When someone asks whether a VPN can be tracked, it is necessary first to understand what exactly is meant by “tracking.” By definition, “tracking” means following marks or traces that indicate the moves and whereabouts of someone or something. The same logic applies to the online universe.
In the case of VPNs, there are two ways of understanding this question. Consequently, there are also two types of answers.
Can a VPN be detected?
If you refer to the possibility of a VPN being detected or, in other words, if it is possible to tell whether an Internet user is browsing with a VPN or not, the answer is yes. In fact, it is relatively easy to know if someone is routing their online traffic through a VPN. People or entities interested in identifying VPN use have several methods at their disposal to do so.
Companies and governments’ most common and widely used methods are IP analysis, Port number check, and data inspection. The first one consists of the simple association of IPs with already known VPN providers. Regarding Ports, each VPN protocol establishes connections between devices using predetermined “doors” with specific numbers. In this case, it is possible to identify the use of a particular VPN protocol.
However, the most advanced method is Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), something like deep and detailed inspection of data portions. By analyzing the data available for each data packet sent over the Internet, finding clues or traces can indicate VPN use.
On the other hand, while it is easy to identify a VPN acting as a middle-man, some VPNs can make it very difficult for eavesdroppers. Some of the leading providers in the market offer advanced features dedicated to this task. These are technologies capable of ensuring an extra degree of protection to your browsing data, camouflaging the routing activity of the VPN, making it really hard to detect. That is the case with the Obfuscated Servers, deployed by NordVPN, the Camouflage Mode, available on Surfshark, and the Chameleon Protocol, created by VyprVPN.
Can you be tracked with a VPN?
That is another way of understanding the question. If you actually want to know whether you can still be tracked with a VPN, the best answer is that it is most unlikely. Well, it is essential to make it clear that total privacy or anonymity does not exist in the digital universe. But as long as you use a reliable VPN provider with a strict and proven no-logs policy, it won’t be easy to track your browsing activity and monitor what you do online.
Any possible glitch in the service, any browsing data unduly stored can expose your activity. That is why it’s crucial to choose a VPN with the highest security and reliability levels. I suggest you avoid VPNs that are entirely free and not very transparent. Remember: nothing is free. You’ll probably be paying with your data when using free tools. Definitely not a good deal when it comes to privacy.
If you seriously care about your online privacy, it is worth investing in a top-notch VPN to avoid problems. Besides the three excellent VPNs already mentioned, ProtonVPN is another provider worth considering for privacy protection. Advanced features, such as Secure Core servers, and self-owned high-security data centers, make this Switzerland-based company a great choice.