Surfing the web through a virtual private network ensures that your online activities are both private and secure – if you have signed up for the right one. Tech gurus are calling it an essential tool to ensure privacy and advocate for any privacy and security conscious web user to sign up for it.

All the jargon might make you apprehensive to do this, but it is actually easier than you think.

A VPN is the best way to ensure that online activities remain private and secure. Sadly, the truth is in today’s modern online world, our privacy is under threat. Additionally, our data is being collected all the time. Being able to use a virtual private network (VPN) therefore is an important skill for anyone who uses the internet.

Experts are unsurprised by the sudden interest in VPNs in recent times, as concern over online privacy is ever increasing. The internet, by its nature, is insecure. When it was first established, it was set up with the goal to transmit data as smoothly and consistently as possible. All of the internet’s core protocols are designed to send data, rather than secure it.

What is a VPN?

In this context, then, it seems obviously that taking measures to secure your data is essential, and a VPN could be the ideal solution. A VPN is a paid service that makes your online activity remains secure even when using public Wi-Fi. While it would likely not guarantee online anonymity, it can at least protect your from most prying eyes and bulk data collection.

A VPN is like a secure tunnel between your PC and the sites you visit on the internet. This makes it difficult to spy on your internet activity, harder for hackers to steal credentials or redirect your PC. While a VPN works by allowing you to browse privately and securely, it can also encrypt your data and hide your location. Consumers should remember that not all VPNs are the same and to make an informed choice before signing up for one.

This service is not just suitable for individuals and personal use. A VPN can also provide an added layer of protection to businesses.

Are they a foolproof solution?

VPNs are not foolproof and will probably not be able to provide protection against sanctions like government restrictions on the internet. Sadly, it also can’t protect you from advertisers tracking your online activity as the websites you are visiting still tracks your activity. If you want to stop advertisers and website tracking you online, you’ll need to use a browser add-on as well, such as  Ghostery, Privacy Badger, and HTTPS Everywhere.

How to choose a VPN provider

It is possible to sign up for the services of most VPNs within seconds. You can find services on mobile apps for both Android and iOS, making it easy to keep any device secure on public WiFi. It is better to get a paid-for VPN than a free service, which is normally simply poor substitutes for the paid services. Free services usually allow a limited amount of bandwidth usage per month and/or offer a slower service. It is especially ill-advised to use free VPNs with ads, as this might be a way to collect your data and sell it. If you are still confused, VPN Pro has more guidance on how to choose the right VPN service. This article also has some advice on how to check if you have signed up for a “leaky” VPN.

What to look for

When picking a service one of the most crucial aspects to look for is that it should not log data as this could make you susceptible to leaks and attacks. The VPN you choose should have the latest encryption technology. It is best to make sure that your VPN’s servers are located “outside of the 14-eyes jurisdiction. The “14-eyes” is a list of countries that allow government agencies to spy on people and consists of the UK, US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden.

It is also important to find out what information the VPN of your choice will collect and keep. He said some keep as little data as possible but not all of them, adding that it was also important to ask how long data logs are kept. He further writes that it is important to ask what website activity will be permissible as some companies, for instance, do not allow torrents. He adds that it is easier to get a customised VPN that can be downloaded and installed.

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According to research done by AV-TEST, the independent research institute for IT security, they measure VPNs by looking at levels of privacy, anonymity, or virtual different geographical locations, protection against data leaking and usability, competitive pricing, support for most common payment methods, and support for all possible devices and operating systems. You should also be aware that using a VPN does have a few drawbacks. Most notably, a VPN service creates an extra connection between you and the network, meaning that your connection will be slower.

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