It is becoming more and more common to expect people to use VPNs during their internet browsing and streaming activities. Any security professional will recommend the use of a Virtual Private Network, or VPN service, in order to protect your data and even potentially unlock more of the internet.
This is all well and good, and sounds great, however, for those who are less technologically savvy, what is a VPN and how do we use one?
A VPN can be defined as a connection between a secure server and your computer, allowing you to access the internet more safely. It can increase the security of the data being transmitted across the internet, as well as financial transactions and personal data. The most common data breaches occur when connected to pub Wi-Fi points, like those often found in coffee shops or airports, as this is a connection that is open for anyone to join.
It also isn’t uncommon for Internet Service providers to invade your privacy, by selling your data regarding online habits to third parties. It is possible to connect your wireless router at home to a VPN, which reduces the risks of being snooped on by your internet service provider.
Another perk of using a VPN is that it generates a brand new IP address for you, which makes it harder for third parties to track you, and as a result, makes you less susceptible to identity theft. The new IP address will also be based in a new location, making content which was formerly geographically locked available.
A VPN can now be considered a necessity for an individual who regularly browses the internet, an even more so if you are someone who often connects to public Wi-Fi points. Most people are completely unaware of the risks that are associated with browsing the internet without any form of protection, however, with the recent data breach surrounding Facebook selling users’ information to a third party, internet security is rapidly becoming a more commonly discussed topic.
A VPN has the potential to make it appear as if everyone on the network is in a different location. It is becoming more and more common for companies to introduce building wide VPNs, in order to protect against any potential data breaches, which could be detrimental to a business.
VPNs have been readily available for laptops and desktop computers for over a decade, however, more recently the different types of VPNs have become more readily available. The different types of VPNs, such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer), IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) and even hybrid VPNs all have different purposes, which mean that some may e more or less beneficial to you.
With the progression of VPN technology in recent years, came the possibility of having a VPN service across multiple devices and platforms. Nowadays, the use of mobile VPN technology, on both smartphones and tablets, is gaining traction. Due to the increased popularity of mobile banking, as well as people wanting to be constantly in touch with their e-mails, both business and personal, means that there are far more risks associated with a lack of security on our mobile devices.
A large number of the people are log onto their mobile banking every day when they are connected to a public network, or send important e-mails, some which may contain personal information, don’t even consider the potential risks that they are taking. There are a number of different apps that act as a mobile VPN, such as TunnelBear, which offers 500 MB free per month, and if you would like more then it’s a paid subscription. Both Apple and Android also offer a built-in VPN service, which many are completely unaware of.
As touched upon earlier there are some VPNs that are free, and some that are a paid monthly subscription. Finding the one that works best for you is hugely important, as many of them will offer different services, and, as you would expect, the paid services are often far superior to the free services, some of which have been accused of selling personal data (one of the things we’re trying to avoid!).
One of the more common uses of a VPN service is to unlock content that is only available in a certain country; so being sure to double check that the country of which the content is in that you’d like to view is also extremely important. It is also important to note that some VPNs will slow down your internet speed more than others.
This is essential because there is an added step when browsing the internet, all of your internets is going through a ‘middle man’, the server in a different country, and often continent. If you want to use your VPN for online gaming, then this is also something that you will need to consider.
Some of the most popular VPNs are Banana VPN, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Private Internet Access VPN and ZenMate. Being sure to try out all of these, if not more, is very important, as some will be more appropriate to you. The prices of the aforementioned very slightly, although generally speaking, the longer term you sign up for, the greater the discount in the subscription fee. Before pulling the trigger on any potential VPN software, it is recommended that you take advantage of the many free trials that are available, and compare speed and location availability.
As mentioned throughout, and should be abundantly clear by now, the way the internet is shaping up throughout 2019 suggests that the majority of people need a VPN. Whether you are just browsing casually, gaming online, sending important e-mails, or even streaming content, a VPN could make a drastic difference to all of these things. The wealth of content that in unlocked simply by using a VPN alone is one of many reasons to bite the bullet, and at least trial a VPN service.