Secure personal VPNs are becoming increasingly popular. As users transfer more and more critical information on the Internet, personal online security has become a huge priority. The surge in popularity is due, in part, to growing mobile device usage. As users move between networks throughout their day, they expect to stay connected to the Internet. They also expect those connections to be secure. Unfortunately, many are not secure. As users transfer personal data on public Wi-Fi hotspots they are unknowingly putting themselves and their data at risk. Here are a few of the biggest reasons to use a secure personal VPN.
An IP address is a unique identifier that follows a user’s device as their browse the Internet. When a user connects to the Internet without a personal VPN, websites and third parties can see everything they do online using their IP address. When that user connects to the Internet using a VPN, their IP address is replaced by one from the VPN server. There are several reasons this is advantageous. It prevents websites and third parties from developing profiles about user behavior. If they cannot connect online behavior with a user, they cannot employ directed marketing to them
This also prevents websites from blocking access to users based on their physical location. Many websites only allow access to users from a certain geographical region. For example, when a user in the UK tries to visit a US website, they will be blocked if the website engages in this practice. However, when that same user connects to the website through a US VPN, they appear to be located in America. As such, they are granted access.
Additionally, many Internet Service Providers regularly engage in behavior-based traffic throttling. These ISP uses Deep Packet Inspection to see what users do online to preferentially limit connection speeds. When a user connects to the Internet using a VPN, the ISP can only see encrypted data and connections to the VPN server. They cannot see what websites and online service the user accesses and they can’t see the content of the traffic itself. This prevents the ISPs from slowing down Internet connection speeds based on what the user does on the Internet.
When connecting to the Internet from a public Wi-Fi hotspot without a VPN, hackers can easily access any data sent or received. This is a huge concern for anyone who performs banking transactions or works while on-the-go. A secure personal VPN encrypts all data sent or received, thus protecting information from third parties.
There are several standard VPN protocols that deliver this security. The most popular are PPTP, L2TP/IPsec and OpenVPN. Each has unique benefits and tradeoffs. PPTP provides basic 128-bit encryption. It is characterized by fast and reliable speeds due to its relatively lower encryption level. It is easy to set up because it is built in to most modern operating systems, including mobile devices.
L2TP/IPsec, like PPTP, is built-in to most operating systems. L2TP/IPsec delivers much higher 256-bit encryption. This is desirable for people who routinely perform sensitive online transactions on their smart phones or tablet computers. L2TP/IPsec also includes data integrity checking. It encapsulates the data twice to ensure that data isn’t altered or intercepted on its way to or from the user’s device. This extra security comes at a cost though. L2TP/IPsec tends to be slower than PPTP and require additional work from the CPU.
OpenVPN includes two encryption levels, 160-bit and 256-bit. This allows the user to choose between blazing speeds with good security, or good speeds with the best security available. OpenVPN can match the encryption level of L2TP/IPsec and it delivers speeds that rival PPTP. It uses to digital certificates to ensure data integrity. It is reliable even on high-latency connections and delivers consistent performance to servers across the world. For these reasons, OpenVPN is the highest recommended VPN protocol. The only downside is that it isn’t available on mobile devices and requires easy-to-use software on desktop computers. OpenVPN is typically recommended on devices where it is supported.
How to choose a VPN provider
There are many VPN providers to choose from. However, their quality varies considerably. One should do some research before signing up. Free VPN providers and cheap VPN providers usually offer nothing more than a website. They typically outsource the actual service to third parties. This means they can’t support the service and they can’t guarantee a fast, reliable or secure service. Look for a paid VPN provider who owns and maintains their entire infrastructure. Look for a provider who offers free VPN software and the protocols described above. Look for one with VPN close to you. The further data has to travel, the more likely you will experience latency. Also look for a provider with world-wide server locations so you can bypass location-based content blocking around the world. They should allow unlimited access and unlimited server switching. Keeping these points in mind should help you find a high quality personal VPN provider to secure your data and protect your privacy.