During the last two decades the Internet has become the most important, and yet the most vulnerable method of communication and data transfer. No matter how hard antivirus companies try to make it a safer place, and despite all the attempts of operating system vendors to timely discover and fix security vulnerabilities, hackers and other cyber criminals manage to find various ways to exploit system imperfections and punish inexperience and recklessness of PC users by snatching their sensitive data. It’s not enough to rely only on antivirus software for online protection, so VPN services have become a must, especially if we bear in mind the fact that even an average PC user sends and receives a significant amount of data over the Internet. That’s why we all need trustworthy VPN software to protect our personal data online by encrypting it and by establishing a secure connection.
The Benefits of VPN Software
A VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and it was first used to provide employees with secure remote access to their company network. This service enables employees to access all the company’s data, files and all resources over the Internet from various locations as if they were in the office. In other words, a VPN operates by creating a secure tunnel between your computer and a VPN server so that nobody can track your Web traffic or compromise the company’s security. Of course, as this service is very useful, it was only logical to make it commercial and available for regular users and for personal use. There are several situations when you can put a VPN to a good use:
- Overriding geoblocking – You want to watch a HBO or BBC online services and your IP address has been blacklisted on the grounds of geoblocking restrictions? No problem! Use VPN software and bypass the system, but bear in mind that this isn’t the safest of practices legal-wise.
- Securing your sensitive data while you’re using Wi-Fi hotspots – Hotspots are among the most important services especially when you’re traveling. Still, they’re also among the most dangerous ways of connecting to the Internet as they’re usually unprotected. This means that some sly hacker can intercept your Web traffic, break into your device and steal your sensitive information. That’s where VPN software comes in and saves the day.
- Masking your IP address – If you want to keep a low profile and avoid exposing your IP address by making it seem as if you were from another part of the world, VPN software can do the trick. This is mostly used by journalists, activists or political dissidents when they want to hide their exact whereabouts from government agents. This can be illegal in some countries with harsh censorship.
- Accessing your own private network or your company’s network while you’re on the go – Basically, this feature gives you the privilege to work and travel while “carrying” your office with you. Top-notch encryption protocols keep your sensitive data secure. You don’t have to worry about forgetting important files when you’re away as VPN software brings all your important files close to you.
To Peer-to-Peer or Not to Peer-to-Peer
In case that you’re fond of downloading copyrighted multimedia from the Internet by means of P2P programs, you surely know that this is illegal and may lead to serious consequences. Still, some VPN programs don’t make a fuss about taking advantage of their services in order to cloak your IP address and escape the traps set by movie studios and government agencies responsible for combating piracy on the Internet. But, many VPN services actually forbid these activities and if you use their servers to distribute and obtain copyrighted material, they will terminate your subscription, so be careful, stick to rules and follow them.
“if a sniffer intercepts your traffic, it won’t be able to decode the information without knowing what the code is“
Many PC users are concerned whether VPN software can completely protect their security or not. First of all, you should know that there’s no bulletproof protection, but you can reduce the risk of compromising your security to a great extent by using VPNs. To explain it in layman’s terms, if a sniffer, which is software that can be used to spy on your traffic or collect your passwords, intercepts your traffic, it won’t be able to decode the information without knowing what the code is. It’s mostly used on open wireless networks. There is another side of the coin in the sense that some users worry that even VPNs track their traffic and save logs. This is true, but you can choose the service that is transparent about what data it collects and why. You can additionally safeguard your privacy by paying for the subscription via PayPal or similar payment methods and completely avoid credit cards.
Need for Speed
“if you’ve accustomed to the speed-of-light Internet, you’ll have to come to terms with some sluggishness“
Since we’ve already established that protecting privacy is a top priority and that VPN services can additionally contribute to achieving that goal, it’s only fair to draw your attention to the fact that there are certain sacrifices. Namely, if you’ve accustomed to the speed-of-light Internet, you’ll have to come to terms with some sluggishness. Since the encryption procedures as well as creating secure tunnels for traffic are complex, your Internet speed will suffer. Don’t expect dial-up sluggishness, but there are some problems when it comes to streaming. When it takes some time to open a Web page, just remember that it’s for your own good.
VPN Services We Recommend
- Steganos Online Shield – This online knight in shining armor will keep all the bad guys behind its shield and protect your sensitive data. There are also some bonus features as it will also block annoying ads and prevent tracking on social networks.
- TopGuard – If you want to disguise your IP address and keep a low profile, this is the VPN for you. Its strong 256-bit encryption will prevent all kinds of snoops away from your lines of communication.
- IPVanish – For those of you who are really in the need of being completely undercover, here’s the real master of disguise VPN. If we tell you that it boasts servers on more than 60 locations and that it can offer the range of 25,000 IP addresses, you’ll realize why this is an excellent program.
- Strong VPN – Many people don’t want to sacrifice their Internet speed on the account of their privacy, and with Strong VPN we can tell you that if you choose this service you can have your cake and eat it. There’s no need to expect anything less than both iron-clad protection and impressive Internet speed. Streaming videos also work and that’s also something to brag about.
- CyberGhost – Flying under the radar is something that many PC users want, and this VPN will keep you in the shadows. When it comes to keeping logs, you don’t have to worry as this service doesn’t log your personal data. You can be sure that you security will be protected as it uses some of the best tunneling protocols.