A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a program which hides the IP address of a computer system. This means that users can browse with greater anonymity because the data they leave behind on sites cannot be linked directly to them. There are some good reasons for wanting to use a VPN these days, and also some pretty malicious ones.
People might want to hide their identity using a VPN if they live under a particularly oppressive regime, and want to browse the whole web freely. They might also want to trick a service provider like Netflix or Youtube into thinking that they’re accessing the service from a different location, to allow them greater access. These reasonably legitimate reasons to use a VPN hardly constitute a threat. However, the anonymity such a service provides allows users to engage in much more sinister activities. These might include the distribution of illegal pornography, the piracy of music or movies, and the committing of illegal actions, such as click fraud.
Block VPN Traffic?
As we’ve already established, not all VPN traffic will be fraudulent, or even engaging in illegal activity. This makes the question over whether or not to block all VPN traffic a tricky one. There do indeed exist people who are genuinely concerned for their privacy online. These people may live in oppressive countries, or they might just feel uncomfortable with the amount of data companies are collecting on them and their browsing habits. While these people may be valuable customers, it is our experience that the vast majority of VPN users will be up to no good.
Remember, your campaigns rely on people not only accessing your page, but making a purchase too. Those that do access the page and don’t make a purchase just cost your business money. It’s worth considering the notion that those operating a VPN for non-malicious reasons are concerned about their privacy online. Are these really the sorts of people who are likely to make many online purchases? If they’re uncomfortable about their IP address being out in the world wide web, then they are likely to be equally concerned about using their bank details, name, address, and phone number to buy something online.
In our opinion, a blanket ban on all VPN users is the correct way to handle the issue. The potential damage a click fraud attack can cause to your campaign far outweighs the good that can come from very few additional legitimate views. It’s a tough stance, but when the stakes are so high, decisive actions speak the loudest.