What's safer, a VPN as a standalone app or as a browser extension?
May 8, 2018 6:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering three VPN candidates. I understand the way they work, but there's something I don't understand. What's the difference, if any, in security between using, say, Private Internet Access as an app on my Mac desktop and using it on the same desktop but as a Chrome extension? Thanks.
posted by holdenjordahl to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Chrome extension will only send Chrome traffic through the VPN. The desktop app will send all internet traffic through the VPN (i.e. Chrome, but also other browsers such as Safari, email apps, torrent clients, SSH, &etc.)
posted by kickingtheground at 8:41 PM on May 8


Thanks for writing, kickingtheground.
How about if it's a Chromebook and so it's *only* the browser? Does that make it as good as the desktop app?
posted by holdenjordahl at 8:43 PM on May 8


Note that VPN browser extensions may have access to the decrypted version of any page served by HTTPS, while the system VPN should not. If you trust your VPN provider 100% this doesn't matter, but I only use system VPNs for this reason.
posted by krisjohn at 12:13 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


It really depends on how good the browser extension is. For example when your computer does a DNS Lookup it might leak your real IP address. I wouldn't be surprised if a browser extension didn't handle this correctly.

Always remember VPNs don't give absolute privacy. Your browser and computer configuration might be unique. If you browse a website without using your VPN, and then browse the same site with your VPN then it's possible the website will be able to track you.
posted by gregr at 7:54 PM on May 9


Thanks, krisjohn, thanks, gregr, good to know!
posted by holdenjordahl at 7:47 AM on May 10


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