What is a VPN
A VPN is short for a “Virtual Private Network” this is a method to create a secure connection between your computer or device to another network. Enabling you to avoid any restriction applied by your location or ISP.
VPNs work by routing your Internet traffic through a VPN server rather than your internet service provider (ISP). Which makes your internet traffic appear to be coming from your VPN provider and not your ISP. Essentially as it acts as an intermediary as you connect to the internet and hide your IP address which your ISP assigns your devices, hence hiding your location and protecting your identity.
There are different VPNs for a variety of purposes; your employer might offer one for remote access, enhance privacy, avoid advertising trackers, censorship or even access regional specific content on Netflix by using a VPN based in another country. We have a list of our top picks below.
A VPN encrypts your activity from surveillance and ad trackers. Using VPNs over a public wireless network can protect your data from cybercriminals, your activity is anonymized, and websites typically cannot track your visits as long as you are not signed in.
Protect yourself when using public Wi-Fi
Connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots in places like coffee shops can be dangerous and make you vulnerable to hackers intercepting your data. Public Wi-Fi hotspots often lack security and encryption. Hackers can intercept your data and obtain the following to name a few;
- Email Login
- Bank Login
- Personal photos and videos
- Your home address
Hackers can use various methods to intercept your data when using a public Wi-Fi connection. We won’t go into too many details, but these are some methods they use; Evil twin attack, malware injection, MITM and Wi-Fi Sniffing to steal personal data.
Access region-specific content
Have you ever wondered how you can get around the geo-restrictions put in place when using services like iPlayer or Pandora? This is especially annoying when you are abroad and can’t access your favourite content from these services as they are geo-restricted, meaning you have to be physically in a specific country to access these services.
VPNs are great for masking your IP and getting around these restrictions. This also works with other services like Netflix, Hulu, and others. We find this a brilliant solution for accessing US content, especially Netflix, as the catalogue is different to the UK.
Some countries censor the internet heavily, block major websites and services from operating within their borders. This is very common in countries like China, where popular services like; Facebook, Twitter, Google, WhatsApp, Instagram, Gmail and YouTube are all blocked. A VPN is useful if you require access to these services while travelling to circumvent the restrictions.
Save money shopping online
Sometimes online retailers will display different prices for the same product/service based on which country you are from. This could be anything from; Clothing, Flights, Hotels or Digital products. The solution for this would be to use a VPN and changing the server location until you find the cheapest price this can be time-consuming.
Having a VPN client running on your device will encrypt your communication between your device and the VPN server. Effectively creating a secure private tunnel that sends your data to another network.
Almost all VPN services offer a client app, including the Top Picks we recommend below. All you have to do is select a location, connect to it, and all your data will be routed and encrypted via the virtual private network. Your data is encrypted even if hackers get hold of this communication it won’t mean anything to them as it’s protected.
Overall, if you’re concerned about online privacy and what activity is tracked, then you probably need a VPN and is a great tool to have.
VPNs don’t just protect your privacy, they are capable of much more; avoiding censorship, bypassing geo content restrictions, and more. Below are our top picks on VPNs we recommend.
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