Cyber security tends to feel like something that is a problem for other people. Until it becomes your problem, that is. Having said that, all the films out there about hackers, the innumerable phishing stories online, and the omnipresent tales about dying internet privacy have combined to make ears prick up.
That’s why VPN services are popping up everywhere; your peace of mind is a commodity. We may not always give cyber security a whole lot of attention, as we’re so used to our data flying around the net with no come back. Yet anyone who does a little research will find out that surfing on public Wi-Fi networks, for instance, makes you even more vulnerable. Still, it’s a common thing, unless you’re a hermit.
What is a VPN?
VPN is short for virtual private network, so there’s a clue in the name. VPNs offer a secure, encrypted connection between your device and the VPN service provider’s server. Essentially this makes you a part of the VPN service provider’s network – you may as well be present on their premises.
VPN services have software that protects your internet connection. What this means is that you have much more control over your online appearance, as well as who can see your activity and more.
How does a VPN work?
When you hit the button and connect with the VPN, all of your online traffic is streamlined to the VPN provider’s server; as it’s encrypted, nobody at all can see it until it leaves that server and hits the open internet.
VPNs hide your computer’s real IP address. It’s a little like ducking down a deserted side street wearing one outfit, changing clothes and exiting from the other end of that street.
It is important to note that although VPN services protect your privacy, secure you against general attacks and stop data collection about your activity, they can’t guarantee that they’ll make you completely anonymous or immune to attacks; a talented hacker might be able to get around the system, dependent on your online behaviour.
Who benefits from VPN services?
Well, everyone, really. With new – and increasingly disturbing laws being passed – it’s time for us to get real about privacy and security. For instance, your internet service provider (ISP) is now permitted to offer your browsing history up for sale. They wouldn’t, would they? They would.
Not many people are happy with that, whether they’ve got anything to hide or not.
If you’re concerned about surveillance, cybercrime, or being spammed by ads, a VPN is for you. People worried about being a victim of hackers, phishing attacks, or DNS poisoning – you too.
Similarly, anyone who wants to watch Netflix in any country, or do peer-to-peer sharing on Bit Torrent can be protected by a VPN. Then there are travelers who web surf on public Wi-Fi, and journalists and activists frequently use VPNs so as not to be located or censored by their adversaries.
Do you have trust issues?
That’s understandable, and you would think that a VPN service would be trustworthy since it’s designed to protect you from scammers.
However, a VPN service could technically be another scamming opportunity in itself, so you need to do your homework when choosing a provider. There have actually been instances of fake VPN services, so it’s necessary.
There are plenty of well-established VPN providers around with verifiable reputations. ExpressVPN, NordVPN are two of many. As a side note, VPN services offer native apps for both Android and iOS, so you can easily connect your hand-held devices for protection on the move.
What should you look for in a VPN provider?
In a nutshell:
- A good online reputation
- A high performance standard
- Powerful encryption
- Transparency of operations
- Number of licenses for simultaneous connections
- Number of available servers (most VPN services have at least 1,000 servers).
- Number of locations containing the provider’s servers (meaning more scope for hiding your location effectively).
- Number of devices covered in the package (a minimum of 5 is a good deal).
- Decent support functions
- Bonus features (e.g. ad blockers, firewalls, kill switches to disconnect when VPN drops out).
- A free trial and money-back guarantee (most authentic providers offer this).
Things to remember
Remember that if you connect to a server close to where your physical location is, you’ll have a better connection and surfing speed. You don’t need to pretend to be in Thailand when you’re in Scotland in order to effectively cloak your location.
By now you’re probably thinking about the security of your data, and that’s not such a bad thing. There are many considerations necessary for a healthy online life, and of course for a thriving business via your technology.
Optimasit is more than just well-established; we are the leading IT solutions provider in Spain. We also offer top quality online marketing solutions in Spain (and beyond). You could do a lot worse than take our advice – so talk to us now about how we can help!