Possible VPN Issue


Well-known member
I was going to change my password but also decided to install a VPN. I quickly found that I could not access my bank. It saw me in Dallas, Tx not Pittsburgh, PA. Since the VPNs do not have nodes in all possible cities is the need to verify my address for service from a vendor mean that a VPN cannot be used with some services?
Yes, some web services are geo-restricted. You either need a VPN that allows you to select the needed node, or not use it for those services.
Let's do VPN 101. Real VPNs have been in use since long before the Internet burst upon the scene in the early 90s. A real VPN uses client software on your computer and server software running on the server that you are connecting to. You only connect to the one server the client is configured to make a connection with. All data is encrypted across the entire connection. Companies and governments use these systems to restrict the connections that can connect to their network. If you need to connect to a different server, you use a different VPN client to make the connection. You can't surf the web on a real VPN.

VPN services that you see advertised on TV and in YouTube ads are different. They use a client on your computer to make a proxy gateway that directs all your Internet traffic to their network. Then their network directs your traffic across their network to the nearest node to your desired location where your traffic leaves their network to travel across the Internet unencrypted to your destination. In this case, that is your bank. The traffic from the client to their network is normally encrypted so it does protect you from having password stolen while using public Wifi networks but that protection disappears once it leaves the VPN provider's network. Luckily, it is much harder to intercept at that point.

So what are VPN services good for? Well, as Peter points out above if you want to access the BBC website and watch the programs they have available online. Then the VPN services can make it look like you are in the UK and allow access. Or as I mentioned if you use public wifi in restaurants and airports then the VPN does protect you from "man in the middle" attacks. This is how the "bad guys" steal your username and passwords for your email account or any other service you login to over the Internet.

In general, if you are at home then you are safe to connect to your bank without the VPN. Your bank may have blocked the connection due to it coming from a different state but that seems unlikely to me. What is more likely is that your bank uses cookies stored on your computer every time you successfully connect to them as part of the verification process. The VPN software may have blocked their attempt to retrieve the cookie and dropped the connection. The bank should be able to tell you what happened.