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Does my AirVPN connection also protect non-WiFi cellphone (cellular) communications?l

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Just wondering whether my AirVPN connection can/does protect my privacy over cellular networks independent of WiFi connections? I'm new to the VPN world. Just trying to know my limitations.

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A VPN is not there for privacy protection. It's an encrypted tunnel between your client and the server, so what it really does is protect your traffic from being read or manipulated between you and the server. It does NOT block ad trackers, malware or your nosey boyfriend/girlfriend accessing your computer or smartphone.
Not using a VPN in a public and therefore unknown to you WLAN network is kinda careless. In cellular networks the only one able to realistically "listen" to you is your carrier. Do you trust your carrier? :)

The "privacy protection" argument in public VPNs comes from the fact that the VPN server redirects traffic to your destination as if the server sent it, making a VPN not anonymous but pseudonymous. But if there's nothing saving who was connected when and for how long (= "no log"), it gets difficult to match access to some porn site or something at a certain point of time to a specific client (account/user). From the point view of a client, it can be seen as anonymous access but only as far as your trust in the provider is going – you will never know if your provider is truly "no log".

Apart from all that, welcome to a world where 20% of its people are pathologically paranoid. I hope you'll be much more moderate. :)

» I am not an AirVPN team member. All opinions are my own and are not official. Refer to Staff postings for the official word.

» These are the community forums, not the support portal. You're writing with other users here.

» New here? LZ1's New User Guide to AirVPN. Use the search function, Luke!

» Tor exits behind a VPN connection are discouraged. Using Tor on the other hand is not.


» Privacy is like alcohol: Drink a little and it can help you stay unnoticed. Drink a lot and everyone will notice you.

» I cannot give you the solution to all your issues. But I can guide you to it. The rest is up to you.

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On 9/11/2021 at 10:33 PM, bcheprenpe said:

Just wondering whether my AirVPN connection can/does protect my privacy over cellular networks independent of WiFi connections? I'm new to the VPN world. Just trying to know my limitations.


Yes, of course, you get the same privacy protection enhancements in both connection types (provided that the VPN connection is established). In particular:
  • your outgoing packets do not have anymore your "real" IP address when they get out of the VPN server (this is also why, in addition to privacy enhancement, we define our service as capable to provide "a layer of anonymity")
  • you are no more subject to DNS poisoning, which is common practice with all ISP in the world including European ISPs
  • the VPN tunnel protects you from injection of forged packets
  • your ISP and anybody who wiretaps your ISP line can not see anymore which services you contact, which underlying protocols you use and which underlying applications you run, because of the encryption of outgoing and incoming packets between your client and the VPN server
A caveat in cellular connections when it is used together with a device running iOS or Android. By Apple policy, Apple applications can bypass at will any VPN tunnel (and actually some of them already do it) Similarly, in Android systems, manufacturer's applications might potentially do the same. This is possible because you are not the administrator in Android and iOS systems and therefore you have no control on those important parts of the system which would prevent such "leaks". Therefore, when privacy protection is a priority, Android and iOS should not be trusted.

What about the "anonymity layer" we mentioned earlier? The anonymity layer is provided by the first point of the list, together with the fact that we operate servers in countries where data retention is not mandatory, so we not only avoid inspecting traffic to remain a mere conduit, but we also do not log traffic metadata. So it's not an intrinsic property of a VPN, but it is related to how it is implemented in our systems.

Now, this anonymity layer resists as long as we don't betray your trust AND our servers are not secretly wiretapped.

How to defeat an adversary with the power to wiretap your line AND all the VPN servers you connect to? And what to do when you can't afford to trust our contractual commitment on "no logging"? This question has become relevant for more and more persons who are "high profile targets".

Remember that everyone can become a "high profile target" simply by being an activist on certain matters. Every year, for example, hundreds of environmental activists are killed around the world and hundreds disappear mysteriously or suffer severe limitations on personal freedom or suffer major physical harm. And that pertains only to activism on environmental problems.

Bloggers and journalists are imprisoned, as well as whistleblowers, or killed, in the so called "Western countries" too, simply for having told the truth. In certain areas of Italy, you must protect your identity even if you write a few substantiated rows anywhere on the web against some minor political figure in your tiny district when that political figure has ties with the organized crime, and we know that something similar happened in other EU countries.

We could go on with plenty of horrendous exemplary cases, which took place even in "Western countries", where a more effective layer of anonymity would have saved, during the years, thousands of lives, but let's answer the original question on how to improve the anonymity layer and defeat a powerful adversary with this old article of ours:

So, we wrote the above article many years ago, which may help high profile targets. Keep in mind that everything starts from the assumption that your system is NOT compromised. If it is, any VPN, Tor, Tor over VPN, will be useless. So we come to other important limitations you must be aware of:
  • a VPN does not protect your device
  • a VPN is useless if your device is compromised, and some systems such as Android and iOS may be compromised in a matter of minutes by a powerful entity that comes to know your IP address
  • a VPN must not be meant as an anti-cracking tool: the only protection against some types of cracks is no remote port forwarding, which is mild
  • a VPN can not hide your personal data or identity if you send out personal information inside your traffic flow and the recipient of such information is compromised, or if you send it out in public
  • a VPN does not prevent correlations when you mix identities, i.e. it can't protect you from your own behavior, therefore take care not to mix identities inside and outside the VPN. Trivial, maybe stupid, example. if you have used an e-mail account without VPN, and then you use it from the VPN, the mail provider and other entities can still come to know your real identity via IP address of your past connections on record or other data.
  • a VPN does not hide your system and browser fingerprint. For highly sensitive information transmission when your identity must not be disclosed, avoid the WWW completely (recommended solution). However, if you are compelled to rely on the WWW, at least use the Tor Browser

Kind regards

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