Locked up Keyboard from PixabayI had something interesting happen this week. I’ll state upfront that I have a financial incentive to push VPNs, as do any people saying “you should get a VPN.” I can make half of what you pay in a year for referring you. Yes, it’s that great of a market.

TL;DR this is probably a “well duh,” article to anyone in security or heavily into covering their tracks.

As a reviewer I get offers to play with VPNs all the time. I mean seriously, one of these places should just post an ad saying “here, half price VPN” and cut out sites like ours.

As such I’m playing with VPNs all the time whether I feel the need to or not. I mean I also don’t want your privacy invaded, which is my primary concern, but damn that’s some decent referral money and I’m not going to lie about it.

This week I had a rare quadruple VPN failure. It was enough to make me think I was being spied on, which if you are you’re going to find a very boring middle aged man who reads comics, watches overseas television, has an insane YouTube history caused by my kids watching YouTube Kids, and not much else that I’d admit publically.

The first started when I turned on a VPN on my phone. I saw it connecting, got distracted, came back and was browsing some region restricted stuff when I realized I couldn’t play it. I looked and the VPN was just gone. The icon was there saying it was running but the notification area where it was supposed to go was gone. A quick look about the thing verified the VPN had crashed or otherwise unloaded from memory. I’d been surfing without protection. Eh, no big for me on this one.

The second started when I fired a different VPN up on my computer. Things were extremely slow. I contacted support, which was highly unhelpful, decided it might be due to something I was doing as an experiment (it wasn’t,) and realized from whatismyip that as the VPN slowed I seemed to be leaking into IPv6 space. This also wasn’t much of an issue as I was only using this to verify some websites we own and host were up from outside the building, but IPv6 leaks bad.

The third failure occurred Saturday night. I connected to my VPN, I noticed it took a little longer than it should. I popped open an app that refuses to move a byte’s worth of data if it’s not connected to the VPN and it informed me my VPN was not operating. RRRR?

I checked, it was connected, went and checked my ip both on google and whatismyip.com and sure enough, it was my home IP. I disconnected and reconnected several times and it did not solve the issue. I installed OpenVPN as I read that worked wonders and bypassed problems like this. OpenVPN did a little bit better and just failed over and over again rather than saying it was connected.

I rebooted and things started working on that computer. The only thing I can think of that would have caused that on the Windows 10 box I was using was I had attempted to set up a work VPN earlier in the day. Something with that had to have been the cause.

The fourth VPN failure was an operator fault. Don’t wine and VPN.

Once again, going to stress that other than attempting to watch something freely available on the other side of the planet I was doing nothing particularly sensitive. Each of these failures was almost transparent as an end user. I’ve also never had an issue with any VPN provider like this until this weekend when I had a lot of the fails.

So what are you attempting to sell us Paul?

Um, how about a subscription to Garden & Gun. I find it to be a pretty neat magazine.

Actually just attempting to raise your BS and skepticism when a VPN tells you they’re completely secure or a total solution to covering your tracks.

Badly designed software (be it the VPN, the OS, or whatever,) Facebook or tracking apps, yadda yadda yadda are going to put you at risk at all times.

Also don’t trust that you’re actually connected, regardless of what the VPN software claims, until you visit a website that will tell you your IP.