When you log onto a public Wi-Fi network, such as at a café or airport, your personal data — website passwords, credit card numbers, and emails — can be exposed to unwanted individuals. A virtual private network (VPN) services encrypt your internet traffic to keep your personal data secure, even when you are using public Wi-Fi.
Why Use A VPN Service?
Whether you’re flying on a domestic flight or using public Wi-Fi at an airport, VPNs are the perfect complement to your security protocol. When you connect to a VPN, your internet traffic is encrypted (with industry-standard AES 256 bit encryption) so that your personal data remains secure even when transmitted over public networks. This layer of security prevents hackers from stealing your data, and it also prevents your internet service provider (ISP), such as Comcast, from snooping on your internet activity. Since VPNs operate at the application layer (i.e., above the physical layer), they can also provide you with a more secure and private browsing experience. For example, you can use a VPN to prevent your ISP from seeing which websites you visit, your location, and your duration of visits.
How Do I Use A VPN?
When you connect to a VPN, you will see a menu on your internet browser’s home page. From here, you can select a server location that is closest to you. After you make this selection, it will take some time for the VPN server to establish a connection with you. During this time, you won’t be able to use the internet connection you have established with the VPN. Once the VPN connection is up, you can use it to browse the web as you normally would. The only difference is that your internet traffic will be encrypted so that others cannot snoop on what you are doing. You can use a VPN, in this way, to enhance your privacy and security when browsing the web or using applications such as email or Skype.
If you want to use a VPN to protect your information while you are out and about, you can download a VPN app to your smartphone. With this app, you can connect to a VPN server when you open your web browser or when you use a web application that requires login. When you use a VPN app, it will ask you to enter your username and password, which you can do using the app’s security keypad or a smart phone’s hardware buttons. Some VPNs — but not all — allow you to connect using only a username and password. If this is the case, you will want to make sure you use a strong password (at least eight characters) that you do not share with anyone. You can have multiple VPN apps on your phone so that you can connect to different servers when you use different applications. This way, you will be able to access your personal data when you need it and where you need it, without having to memorize lengthy password sequences. The convenience of being able to use a VPN on the go easily outweighs the slight security risk of having unencrypted data flowing in and out of your device.
A Few More Things To Know About VPNs
One of the first things you should know about VPNs is that the quality of the experience varies from one provider to another. You will, therefore, want to do some research before you make your decision. When it comes to pricing, most VPNs are inexpensive — some provide a free trial so that you can test them out — but premium options exist as well. You can, however, find discount coupons from popular providers, such as NordVPN or IP Vanity, which provide quality service at a good price.
VPNs work by providing you with a secure and private connection to an external network, such as the internet or a corporate network. Because most VPNs operate at the application level (i.e., they function above the TCP/IP layers), they cannot provide you with complete privacy. For example, if you are using a VPN to access a corporate network, that network’s administrator may still be able to see what you are doing. The best way to maintain full privacy when you are using a VPN is to ensure that your data is not left anywhere near your device — keeping your device’s storage volumes as clean as possible is a good idea. This way, even if an attacker manages to gain access to your device, they will not be able to find your personal data (unless you have left it unencrypted, of course).
Some VPNs offer military-grade protection to their users. These VPNs are ideal for government agencies, law firms, military bases, and other organizations that need a dedicated team of security experts to help them keep their data secure.
Features To Look For In A VPN
When choosing a VPN, it is important to check for a number of different features. Some of these features are quite rare, so you should not settle for anything less than the best. Since VPNs operate at the network layer (i.e., below the application layer), they cannot provide the user with all the functions of a traditional web browser. For example, they can’t give you the visual appearance of a native application. As a result, you cannot use some VPNs to download and install new software like games or apps on your smartphone. If you need a VPN for this purpose, make sure you check the features lists of the applications you are considering installing. Some of these features are listed below.
Integrated VPN Client
If you are planning on using a VPN, don’t expect it to integrate seamlessly with your router or other small devices connected to it. Most VPNs are designed to operate on a desktop or a laptop computer, and they will rarely if ever work properly with iOS or Android mobile devices. The reason for this is that VPNs were, originally, designed to work with Microsoft’s Windows operating system. When VPNs were first developed, computers were primarily intended to be used by one person at a time and so had a lot of unused capacity on their hard drives. The developers of VPNs simply did not have to worry about mobile devices because people were connecting to their computers locally to use their service. As a result, most VPNs were not designed with mobile devices in mind, and they do not support them well. If you are using a VPN on the go, try to find a free app for your smartphone that provides you with all the functionality you need. If you are on a Windows machine, you can use the built-in VPN client to connect to a VPN. Mac users should look into the Apple Secure Tunnel client or the OpenVPN client.
A kill switch — sometimes referred to as a kill mode or a ghost mode — is a feature that prevents your device from connecting to any web servers or other devices, even when you are on the network you are trying to protect. When you turn on your device’s kill switch, it will not be able to access any sensitive information or connect to malicious websites. You will, therefore, be safer when using a kill switch.
If you use multiple devices — such as a laptop, a smartphone, and a tablet — it is important to keep track of which device you are using to access a particular network or service. If you forget which device you are using, you will have to enter your login information multiple times, which could be a major hassle. Some VPNs provide for multiple logins so that you do not have to manually enter your login information each time you use a new device. This is a convenient feature for those who use VPNs regularly as it makes connecting to protected resources easier. Keep in mind that the more login details you have, the more you are risking of being hacked. Try to keep your login information as secure as possible by using a complicated password and changing it frequently.
If you have chosen a VPN that is automatically renewed, your subscription will be renewed each month without any intervention from you. This way, even if you forget to cancel the service before the end of the month, your subscription will continue without any issues. You do, however, have the option to cancel the service at any time by contacting the company’s customer support. Automatic renewal is a convenient feature for those who use VPNs frequently as it makes remembering to cancel the service unnecessary. It also makes sure that you are protected whenever you use the service. Some VPNs do not provide for automatic renewals, so be sure to read the fine print before you make a commitment.