When you browse the internet, your activities leave digital trails that are easy for others to see. Whether you’re looking for a job, applying to schools, or trying to stay in touch with friends and family, the internet can help you find what you need. However, it’s also the perfect place for cybercriminals and spies to keep tabs on you.
Internet users are more aware than ever of the risks they face when browsing online. Whether it’s cyber-criminals stealing private data, or governments monitoring activities for security reasons, the Internet can be a scary place. In response to this increased awareness of the risks of using the Internet in general, and social media sites in particular, VPN (virtual private network) usage has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years. Using a VPN not only protects your personal information from being stolen, if you use unsecured Wi-Fi networks such as those found in cafes, hotels, airports and other public places; it also helps protect you from government surveillance and monitoring of your activities online. A VPN provides users with an encrypted tunnel between their device and the website they are visiting. This encrypted tunnel essentially hides your IP address by assigning you a new one through your VPN provider.
Here we learn more about VPN and take a look at some of the best options if you want to stay secure while browsing online on a budget.
What is a VPN and how does it work?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is one of the best tools for keeping your browsing activities private and secure. Even though using a VPN is something that most of us do intuitively these days, it’s important to understand how the technology actually works. A VPN works by establishing a secure connection between all devices on your network and the VPN server you have selected. This encrypted connection is designed to protect your data and browsing history, including passwords, bank account numbers, and other confidential information, from being intercepted by cyber-criminals who might be lurking on unsecured networks such as public Wi-Fi hotspots. As soon as you click on a website secured with HTTPS, your browser (or other Internet-enabled device) will establish a connection with the VPN server. The VPN server then assigns your device an IP address from its own network, which allows your device to communicate with the website as if you were directly connected to its network. This process normally takes a few seconds to complete.
The main difference between traditional VPNs and the newer, more modern versions is that the newer versions can encrypt not only your browser traffic, but also your entire device. This means that any app that’s running on your Android device, or on your Mac/PC, will be encrypted by the VPN service, as well as your browser traffic. This gives you two significant advantages:
Firstly, your device’s entire network connection (Wi-Fi and data) will be encrypted and secured by the VPN. This means that even if you are using hotspots that are unsecured and open, your device will remain encrypted and secure. In other words, your data will remain private and confidential when you are using public hotspots.
Secondly, because your entire device is encrypted by the VPN, you can also use it to prevent websites from tracking your activity. This is particularly important for people who use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others.
Some examples of modern VPNs are:
- NordVPN (https://nordvpn.com/)
- WireGuard (https://www.wireguard.com/)
- Surfshark (https://surfshark.com/)
- ExpressVPN (https://www.expressvpn.com/)
How to choose the best VPN
You can find literally hundreds of VPN providers online. Choosing the best VPN to suit your needs is not easy, especially if you are looking for a good, cheap VPN for your iPhone, Android smartphone, or Mac/Windows computer. Here are a few things to look for when comparing different VPN providers:
- Number of servers: The more servers a VPN provider has, the better. A larger server network will allow you to unblock content from around the world, and will also provide better overall performance.
- Server locations: You will want to make sure the VPN you choose has servers in the places you need them. If you travel frequently and want to use your VPN to access content in other countries, or want to securely access your home network while on the road, make sure the VPN you choose has servers in the countries you want to connect to.
- Compatibility: Make sure the VPN you choose offers support for your computer’s operating system and your mobile device’s operating system.
The best VPN for iOS and Android devices
Although I have mentioned ExpressVPN before, I do want to say that I am not mentioning expressVPN again because I am trying to sell this service, it is just one of the most popular VPN, which I thought is worth looking into, and why not right? I must say, expressVPN is not flawless, but it does provide a fairly decent internet connection, unlike other VPNs. They have a really active team which will help with any problems but the fact is, there are some complains about reconnection issue to servers. Like a lot of products, expressVPN also offers a 7 day free trial for mobile which is great for everyone who is in two minds.
Like expressVPN, I have also mention NordVPN, which offers many VPN features that many other vpns may not have, such as no logging policy and quick connect. NordVPN also offers free download for Android and iOS which is free for a week so users can test how the VPN is and whether it is for them. The app is also available for other platforms such as Windows, iOS, macOS, Linux and android. You can also use NordVPN as VPN extension for web browsers such as Firefox and chrome.
Tunnelbear is another great VPN for android and iOS. It has an astonishing performance even for its free version, although there are restrictions when you are using that version. You can set it up easily, and it is also has a great scope of availability as you can access on desktop as well as your mobile device. You can access even more features with its premium version, such as unlimited secure browsing and connect to 5 devices per user. It also has a great price range, from being free to only $5.75/user per month (https://www.tunnelbear.com/pricing)
The best VPN for your device
Your device can have the strongest security system, but the unfortunately, it wont be able to withstand the danger that waits within public wifi networks. Therefore, by having a VPN for your device, it means you are securing you’re your device from threats such as, wi-fi spoofing, ad-tracking, and data eavesdropping.
Ultimately, you will want to make sure you select a VPN that has an excellent track record of providing high quality customer service and provides a wide range of useful features:
- Strong encryption: Make sure the VPN you choose has strong end-to-end encryption to protect your data and browsing history from being intercepted by cyber-criminals.
- No logs policy: The VPN you choose should have a no logs policy that ensures your data is not being recorded or monitored in anyway.
- Unlimited bandwidth: You will want to make sure the VPN you choose does not cap your data, nor does it establish any sort of data limits on your account.
- 24/7 customer support: Make sure the VPN you choose provides 24/7 customer service and has a strong track record of promptly resolving issues and helping customers with issues they might be having with the service.
The best VPN for you is the one that offers all of the features you need, including strong encryption, no logs, unlimited bandwidth, and easy-to-use apps for mobile devices. And remember, even if a VPN does everything right, there is always a chance that your data could still be intercepted by third parties. That’s why it’s important to have multiple security layers in place. When you combine different technologies, you are putting yourself in the best possible position to remain secure and private while browsing the Internet.