Virtual private networks (VPNs) have many advantages - from keeping private information safe on the move to letting you access blocked websites. Globally, more than 25% of internet users use VPNs on a regular basis.
The first task for people considering using a VPN for the first time is to find the best provider. Here are some things you need to know before you start - so you can make an informed choice.
What exactly is a VPN, and how does it work?
A VPN is a method of creating a safe, encrypted connection over a public network such as the internet. It uses enhanced security protocols when forwarding network traffic to ensure your data can't be intercepted.
Businesses will generally use VPNs to access their private networks remotely, while individuals will use them to encrypt and secure their data and communications and to access blocked websites.
In order to connect to a VPN, users need to install the provider's app on their devices (such as a computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet). Log in using your credentials, and your computer will connect to a remote server.
Once this connection has been established, your internet connection - and therefore all the data received and sent over it - will be secure and encrypted.
Most people will use VPNs for business, to stay connected when traveling, to access websites blocked by the government or by internet providers or to watch TV shows from other countries. Do you know how to watch UK TV in the USA, or how to watch clips on Vimeo in Indonesia? The short answer is by using a VPN.
Benefits of using a VPN
We all know that we should be careful with our personal information, and protect it from being stolen by malicious agents. We would never walk around in public with our private information written on our forehead. So why do it when we connect to the internet?
Opening your laptop in an airport or at the coffee shop and checking your bank account, or connecting your phone or tablet to public Wi-Fi and reading your emails, are just a few examples of how you might be putting your information at risk.
A VPN will ensure that your data is safe, preventing other people fraudulently gaining access to your browsing history, private information, credit card number, login details and so on.
What's wrong with public wi-fi?
If you travel for business and spend time in hotels, restaurants, airports and other such places, you will probably use public Wi-Fi a lot.
Many security experts warn that using public wi-fi networks can be extremely dangerous, however. While there are basic security measures in place that keep regular users safe while surfing the internet, they are not sufficient to keep sensitive business data safe from determined hackers.
It's important to remember that even if the name of the network looks legit (for example 'McDonalds WiFi', 'Starbucks Customer', etc), that does not mean that the connection has been verified in any way. An insecure public internet connection can have any name - and you don't know who might be watching when you connect to it.
Using a VPN is extremely beneficial for keeping your data safe when using any type of untrusted public network.
Copyright 2019. Article was made possible by site supporter Erica Johnson