An increasing number of people are choosing to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) internet connection, and a key reason for this switch is a concern to preserve anonymity and boost our safety while online. We take a look below at how VPNs work to help keep us safe while browsing or transacting on the internet and how to choose the best VPN for your unique needs.
How Does a VPN Connection Work?
Good question. A VPN works by creating a secure connection between your device and the internet; all data and traffic both leaving and coming into your device are encrypted. To connect to the site you want, you are first routed to the external VPN’s server and then onto the website you’re seeking. This process has many advantages in terms of online safety, as we explore next.
One of the key ways that using a VPN can protect your data from hackers or misuse is through its inherent protection of your anonymity. Your device’s IP address and your physical location cannot be traced, as all traffic is being routed first through the VPN’s external server.
So, as an example, if a cybercriminal was trying to trace your connection in an attempt to get hold of your payment card details, the IP address that they would uncover would be that of the VPN, rather than that belonging to your personal device.
Using a VPN allows you to browse the internet, make purchases, and go about your general businesses anonymously and without the risk of unwanted snooping. Have a look here for the best VPN service for anonymity – there is a wide choice of different VPN providers on the market, so take some time to research to make sure you’re getting the most suitable option.
You may want to think about how important having a zero-logging policy is, for example, or whether you would like the connection to be torrent-friendly; some VPNs offer advanced encryption, too, while others are specifically designed to be compatible with Netflix streaming.
Keeps You Safe On Public Networks
Another way that using a VPN can keep you safe is that it guards you against intrusion and hackers when using a public network to connect to the internet. Using a public internet connection is notoriously risky, as hackers can fairly easily spy on your activities, thereby potentially mining your personal information, including your bank details, address, date of birth, and email address.
If you use a VPN, however, even should a hacker gain access to your connection when you’re using a public network, all that they will be able to see is encrypted data, and your personal details will remain private and safe.
Enables More Secure Remote Working
In the wake of the pandemic, many of us switched to home working and, even as the restrictions ease, it’s likely that home or remote working will remain an alternative to coming into the office five days a week.
In light of this, a VPN is even more important; using one means that both your personal data and your employer’s information and data files are kept safe and secure, wherever you’re working in the world.
Zero Logging and Kill Switches
A further way that a VPN promotes online privacy is through zero-logging – not all VPNs offer this, however, so make sure to read the small print if this is a feature you’d like included.
A no-logging policy means that no record is kept of your search history, your activity online, or any of your personal records – this information is hidden from your VPN provider as well as from potential snoopers.
The result of this enhanced privacy feature is that should the unlikely event happen, and a hacker gains access to the VPN, they still won’t be able to harvest any of your information.
KIll switches are another nifty little feature of many VPNs: their function is, in the event that your VPN connection temporarily drops, your link to pre-selected programs will automatically and immediately sever so that there is no risk of sensitive information becoming vulnerable.
Other Ways To Stay Safe Online
A VPN is a great way to upgrade your online safety, but you should employ other measures, too, to ensure your data stays protected and you enjoy the safest browsing experience possible. Installing a high-quality anti-virus package is vital to protect your device from data breaches, hacking, and malware finding its way into your network. Check for updates to this software regularly, and run scans to ensure that your protection is working as well as possible.
Be vigilant, too, about the websites you visit. Cloned or fake websites can be difficult to spot; look out for ‘HTTPS’ in the site’s address bar, rather than just ‘HTTP’ and be wary of unprofessional looking content that contains typos, grammatical errors, or poor quality pictures or graphics, all of which could point towards the website not being legit.
Beware of email phishing scams, too – be really wary about following a link to a site and subsequently entering your personal or banking information. If in doubt, visit the website directly by typing the address manually into the address bar rather than clicking a link.
By using a VPN, anti-virus protection, and being mindful of your online activity, you can browse the internet safely and worry-free.