Vpn for phone?

I go back and fourth about whether using a vpn with my phone provides much of a benefit and was looking to get others opinions.

I do not have a unique threat model, in that I do not think there would be any sort of privacy concerns that I might have over another adult located in the united states. I do try and keep my data as private as possible so (within reason, I am not a pursurer of extreme privacy), if I think a vpn on my phone could be a benefit in that way I am happy to consider it.

I use a Pixel 7 with GrapheneOS. Both Google (as I purchased the phone directly from Google) and my carrier know who I am. There was no attempt to obfuscate my identity, it does not make sense for my threat model to go through the lengths it would take to even have a chance to hide my identity through that process, especially from my carrier.

I am just not sure what a VPN would provide for a phone, in terms of privacy.

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VPN hides your traffic from your ISP, and hides your real IP from the sites you are visiting. With GrapheneOS, you can also have different always-on VPN for each profile so that internet accesses from one profile cannot be tied to another (at least, it won’t be as obvious). Your ISP will see that you are accessing some VPN, but that would be it. They won’t be able to tell what you are really visiting.

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I guess I am not sure how much that matters with my phone. PG is pretty clear that a VPN will not keep my

browsing habits anonymous, nor will it add additional security to non-secure (HTTP) traffic.

As far as my mobile network goes I am already identifying myself just by being connected to the network.

Since a VPN does not seem to do much for annonymity or protecting my browsing habits, and since I am already easily identifiable by my phone carrier does hiding which specific site I am using data on provide a benefit?

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Since a VPN does not seem to do much for annonymity or protecting my browsing habits, and since I am already easily identifiable by my phone carrier does hiding which specific site I am using data on provide a benefit?

I would argue it actually matters more in that case. Just because your carrier knows who you are, doesn’t mean they need to know every domain that you connect to.

If I know you’re John Doe, and I can see every website you go to, I can pretty easily package up and sell that data (i.e. John Doe, who lives at this address, went to https://domain.com at 9:00 PM while he was at this park). At least if I didn’t know you’re John Doe, and I could see every website you go to, it’d be harder to package up and sell.

My point is: Yes, you should use a VPN. Most mobile carriers log data for extremely long periods of time, and also have highly questionable privacy policies and other practices, including selling data. There’s also more benefits that come with using VPNs, such as preventing IP address tracking, no longer revealing your ISP and general location to websites, etc.

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VPN doesn’t hide browsing habits because the site you are visiting can see what you are querying. However, with VPN, they cannot tie it back to your real identity because VPN is in the middle. They can see your habit, but not who you are.

ISP on the other hand, can see who you are. But what you are connected to, and ultimately your browsing habit (outside of the fact that you are connected to a VPN) are hidden.

It is possible for the ISP and the site to cooperate to find patterns and discover who you are AND what you did, but this is usually too much effort.

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@Sharply and @Mango thanks for the responses. This has been very informative and I am very much leaning towards continuing using a VPN on my phone.

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** Despite what many VPN providers advertise VPNs are useless (at best ineffective) at:

  • Achieving anonymity.
  • Preventing Google or Facebook from collecting your private data.
  • Preventing unwanted profiling by social networks or search engines.
  • Providing better security when ‘working from home’.
  • Protecting your passwords.
  • Hiding your mobile phone location (GPS).
  • Helping you avoid data breaches on services you use online.
  • Defending against “cyber threats” and identity theft.

Do not rely on a VPN to protect you in any of the above scenarios.

However, a trustworthy VPN can be very effective at:

  • Encrypting your data so your ISP or mobile network provider cannot monitor or log your online activity. Without a VPN, HTTPS still exposes the domain name or IP address you are visiting to the ISP.
  • Encrypting your DNS requests so your ISP or mobile network provider cannot monitor or log the domains you visit.
  • Increasing your security on untrusted public networks by preventing MITM attacks.
  • Masking your IP address from websites and servers you connect to.
  • Circumventing censorship or geographical blocks on websites and content.

Using a VPN should be part of an overall strategy to protect your privacy - but only if you trust the VPN provider more than your ISP**

From:

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@FlipSid thanks for the info.

just for the fact I trust my vpn provider over my isp or the isp of whatever public wifi i might be on, ill probably stick with using one on my phone.

every time I have to reset my phone I end up re-thinking if i truly need a vpn on it and, watching videos like this make me question if I have a vpn on my phone for the right reasons.

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I regularly end up with the same questions :sweat_smile:
So I’ll be sticking with one where I don’t have do buy a year subscription (etc) to get a reasonable price…

Question: can I achieve the same pros but using encrypted dns (such as AdGuard)?
Of course still speaking of mobile phone.

Thank you

I think this Proton blog post provides the answer

Private DNS is not as private as a VPN

Private DNS offers some privacy advantages, but these only work when ISPs (often at the behest of governments) pick low-hanging fruit and don’t put much real effort into censoring content or spying on you. Although it requires extra effort, an ISP can trace your connections to determine your browsing history, and can directly block traffic to specific IP addresses.

A VPN therefore provides much more privacy than a private DNS service.

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No. Encrypted DNS still provides benefits, primarily with security, and it’ll make it harder for your carrier to see what domains you go to, but your carrier can still see and harvest your traffic visit through other areas, such as the SNI (for websites that don’t use ECH), IP address, etc. Using a VPN or Tor is really the only way to fully prevent your ISP from seeing your traffic.

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Got it, thank you.
My only thought about using vpn on mobile is that I use apps that know my really identity, thus I would make easier for them to link my identity with a vpn