If you’re like me, you probably use your smartphone for many of life’s essentials including to convert units of measurement. Whether you need to convert miles to kilometers, pounds to kilograms, or Celsius to Fahrenheit, there’s an app for that.
But have you ever wondered what these apps do with your data? Do they track your location, your device, your usage, or even your identity? And if they do, can you stop them by using a VPN? That’s exactly what Gilbert, from Cartersville, GA, is asking.
“I’ve been looking through the Apple App Store for a unit conversion app. I’ve noticed that almost all of them state that they track your data like user ID, user device, usage, location, etc. Will the use of a VPN prevent them from tracking me?”
Gilbert, Cartersville, GA
This is an excellent question, Gilbert, as I know we’ve recommended using a VPN numerous times before to help prevent your information from being tracked while browsing the web.
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Will apps track me if I’m using a VPN?
A VPN can help you hide your IP address from the unit conversion apps, but it may not be enough to prevent them from tracking you. Some apps may use other methods to collect and share your data, such as browser fingerprinting, tracking cookies, device identifiers, or permissions. These methods can reveal information about your device, browser, location, preferences, and behavior, even if you use a VPN. Therefore, a VPN is not a foolproof solution for online privacy but rather a useful tool that can enhance your security and anonymity.
A VPN masks an IP address
While a VPN masks your real IP address, apps can still collect and track the IP address of the VPN server you are connected to. They can also potentially gather other identifying information from your device or through other means.
A VPN encrypts internet traffic
VPNs do encrypt your internet traffic. However, the level of encryption can vary depending on the VPN protocol and settings. Encrypted data is more challenging for apps to interpret, although it is not foolproof. Some apps may employ techniques to bypass VPN encryption or collect other non-encrypted data.
A VPN enhances online privacy and security
Ultimately, while using a VPN can enhance your online privacy and security, it does not guarantee complete anonymity or prevent all forms of tracking by apps.
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How to protect your privacy when using apps
You should also check the privacy policies and settings of the apps you use and limit the data access and sharing permissions they request.
You should also use a secure browser that blocks third-party cookies and trackers and clear your browsing history and cache regularly.
You can also check the reviews and ratings of other users to see their feedback on the app’s privacy practices.
Using a VPN does not necessarily protect you from all the threats that these apps pose to your privacy. A VPN can only encrypt your data and hide your IP address, but it cannot prevent the apps from collecting your personal information, accessing your contacts, or tracking your online behavior. Therefore, you need to be careful about what apps you install and what permissions you grant them.
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Can I use any VPN? Even a free one?
So, with that in mind, I wouldn’t recommend using just any VPN service, especially one that is free. You always get what you pay for, and having a subscription VPN service is more likely to guarantee your privacy than one that doesn’t charge. Those that don’t charge might have ways of tracking you even if they claim not to. Plus, free VPN services have a higher risk of being infiltrated with malware, give a slower online connection, and are likely to have tons of ads. You want to ensure that your VPN service is reputable, has good reviews, and has a clearly stated no-logging policy.
Read more of my reviews for best VPNs here
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Kurt’s key takeaways
Ultimately, using a VPN enhanced your online privacy and security, but it does not guarantee apps from collecting your personal data.
For more of my tech tips & security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter
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