In the past, a simple antivirus software was all you needed to stay safe from online threats. Today, it takes more than that to protect your PC and the information stored on it. Whether you’re sending an important email or chatting with a coworker online, chances are your data can be easily intercepted. This is why you need a virtual private network (VPN). Here’s how a VPN can protect your online privacy and how to choose the best one for your needs.
What is a VPN?
A VPN creates a secure tunnel between your device and the websites you visit on the internet. Once you’ve established your PC’s connection to a VPN server, your computer acts as if it’s using the same local connection as the VPN, making it seem as if you’re in a different location. As far as websites are concerned, you’re browsing from that server’s geographical location and not your PC’s actual location.
When you surf the web through a VPN, all the data transmitted and received is also encrypted, preventing anyone, from hackers to government agencies, from monitoring your online activities.
Why should you have a VPN?
Security and privacy are the main reasons you would want a VPN. For example, if you’re connected to a public Wi-Fi network — like the ones at local cafes and airports — using a VPN encrypts the information you’re sending or accessing online. This means your credit card details, login credentials, private conversations, or sensitive documents can’t be intercepted by a third party.
VPNs are also useful for accessing geo-restricted websites. If you’re traveling abroad and certain US websites are blocked in that region, you can connect to a VPN located in the United States to access the sites you need.
How do you choose a VPN?
Given the increasing demand for secure online privacy, VPNs are surging in popularity. The following considerations can help you find the right one.
While free VPNs are available, it’s best to avoid them as they could keep logs of your internet activity. In some cases, data collected by free VPNs are sold to data brokers or worse, cybercriminals. Additionally, maintaining a VPN service is also expensive, which means the free ones will likely plaster ads on your browser to make a quick buck.
Paid VPNs like NordVPN and ExpressVPN often come with more robust features and configurations that keep you secure. Prices differ depending on a VPN’s features and subscription length, and how you pay is also important. Some VPNs offer anonymous payment systems like Bitcoin, while others allow you to use gift cards to avoid giving out your personal information.
The physical location of VPN servers is important if you want to access region-blocked websites. So if you’re planning on accessing a UK-based service, your VPN provider must at least have servers located in London.
Read through a VPN provider’s terms of service to determine how much data you’re allowed to use. If possible, find out how many servers a VPN provider has. If they have plenty of servers online, you can rest assured that they have the capacity to support your internet browsing.
4. Device compatibility
Another important factor to consider is whether the VPN can be used across multiple devices. Nowadays, employees work on laptops, tablets, and smartphones, so you’ll want a VPN that’s compatible with various types of devices.
5. IP leaking
Beyond the fundamental nuts and bolts of the VPN protocol, there are other challenges like dealing with leaky tunnels, which means your IP address could be tracked. A great way to evaluate a VPN service is to sign up for their free trial service and visit IP Leak. This will allow you to check whether your real IP address is being leaked. If it tracks your physical location, you should opt for a more reliable VPN service.
VPNs are now a vital component of cybersecurity, and if you need help in selecting the right one for your business, consult with our security experts today. We also offer comprehensive cybersecurity services so no hacker or third party can get their hands on your data.