A Comprehensive Guide To VPNs And Online Safety

The Relevance Of Online Risks
With more and more of our data and our lives migrating online (in various social media, or email accounts, in a multitude of synchronized clouds), it becomes of paramount importance to keep all this under control and safely protected. Shockingly enough, even in democratic countries, we keep hearing about attempts from government agencies to enforce mass surveillance of its citizens (the NSA example is eloquent), understanding at the same time that we might be aware only about the tip of the iceberg.

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Apart from this, a vast number of hacking attempts constantly remind us of the active interest of ill-intentioned people to exploit online vulnerabilities (the recent ransomware attacks, video camera hacking). One important solution for online privacy and security that increased much in popularity lately is represented by VPN providers. You can review at https://www.bestvpnrating.com/review/tunnelbear one provider that offers not only paid but also free packages, which you can test extensively to assess the utility of the service for you.

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Mechanism Of VPN Functioning And Important Characteristics Of A VPN Provider
All VPNs create encrypted communication channels between the user and the Internet. Encryption of each bit of data makes it incredibly hard for third parties to make sense of it, even in case of interception, however, even interception becomes more difficult in this situation. The fact that all data traffic is routed through a VPN server (whose IP is assigned to the user instead of the physical IP) effectively hides user identity online – random websites would no more be able to identify the user (apart from the situation the user logs in using his or her credentials).

Another important implication of the use of dedicated VPN servers is that these can be located in a variety of countries worldwide. Users from countries with Internet censorship in place can simply access the Internet through servers located in countries with liberal Internet use rules, obtaining unrestricted access. The same is true about geo-restricted services that are accessible only from a particular country or list of countries.

Some important features to look at when choosing a VPN provider are described well on
this site. Among the most important ones are the following:

  • encryption key. The length of the encryption key is directly related to the strength of encryption, making it harder to decode the potentially intercepted information. Although 1024 bit encryption keys are frequently used, 2048 bit keys are considered even stronger.
  • encryption protocol. The encryption protocol is another parameter defining the strength of the encryption. PPTP and L2TP protocols are good enough for most purposes, but ultimate power comes with the more secure OpenVPN protocol.
  • the number of devices supported and operating systems supported. Most VPN providers offer protection for multiple devices across multiple operating systems. Thus, protection can be ensured for laptops, stationary PCs, smartphones, and tablets. You might even opt to install the VPN on the router itself to cover your entire home or workplace network. However, portable devices which are frequently used to access public networks should benefit from a standalone installation of the VPN program.
  • the speed of access. Speed is an especially high priority if you plan to use the VPN for online video streaming, for instance with platforms like Netflix, SlingTV, or even YouTube. Sometimes speed is inversely proportional to the strength of encryption, but this is usually not an issue with top VPN providers.
  • the number of VPN servers worldwide. This is again important when accessing media streaming websites from over the world – covering a big number of countries is important for getting access to local content, while a big number of servers in each given country would ensure high and stable access speeds, even when user access rates are high.

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Other Important Considerations
Of course, there are other things you should do to protect yourself online. First, install an antivirus with an integrated firewall to scan for threats both on your device and in your online data traffic. Remember that VPNs and antiviruses are complementary. The VPN is important for protecting your online identity and making your data traffic hardly accessible to others, while the antivirus and the firewall are important to actively scan and filter the threats you might come upon while browsing or that you might accidentally download on your device.

Finally, if all you are interested in is safe browsing, you might use the Tor browser – the anonymous network established by this browser does allow this. However, this option often comes with significantly lower access speeds, slow loading of the browser (needs to start the network each time it is accessed). Moreover, it only affects browsing, not being able to secure or conceal the entire traffic (e.g. torrenting applications).

One should keep in mind that certain services like PayPal or banks prohibit the use of VPNs and might even block the account of the users who try to access them through a VPN. Thus, you might be forced to temporarily disable the VPN network. However, if you are on the go and need to make a financial transaction, better use your mobile data connection instead of an untrusted WiFi network of questionable security – you will not use much traffic for this kind of operation while feeling safer at the same time.

Additional Resources

To conclude, VPNs are an extremely important element of a comprehensive security solution for all your devices, besides coming with other significant advantages. If you are willing to find out more information about the technology behind VPNs and the utility of the various features, feel free to access Bestvpnrating.com. Here, you can compare between different providers and the features they offer as well as to get a grasp the multitude of scenarios in which you might find a VPN useful. Besides, you will get acquainted with basic concepts and the trends in the field.

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