Our privacy is something valuable that is hard to maintain in this day and age. A lot of our personal information can be gleaned and even stolen. Sometimes, it’s for something relatively benign if annoying, such as consumer behaviour data collection, but sometimes it’s something as insidious as identity theft. Most of this is done through an active Internet connection. Luckily, there are ways to ensure the security and anonymity of your Internet access, such as installing a virtual private network (VPN) app.
What is VPN?
VPN stands for ‘virtual private network’. When used, it becomes something of a middleman between you and your intended Internet destination, usually a website. It does this by creating an encrypted connection, or a tunnel, on its server, and then funneling the data traffic between you and your Internet destination through that tunnel. This way, your smartphone’s unique identity will remain hidden when you browse the Internet.
Network Connection Security Doesn’t Matter
You’ve probably been warned with good reason to be wary of open Wi-Fi networks, but sometimes your needs can be too pressing to wait for a secure Wi-Fi network can be found. When such a need arises, a VPN app would come in handy, as it will encrypt your information through a tunnel on the VPN provider’s server and keep you safe that way.
Interceptions are Blocked
Your data traffic can be intercepted and stolen en route to its destination. One way to prevent such theft is to obfuscate your traffic via encryption, which is an ability offered by VPN. While not entirely foolproof, a VPN would allow a much safer data traffic flow than normal.
Worldwide Server Connection
Another advantage of using VPN is that it releases you from the limits of your country’s server. Just as how your VPN app can be provided by someone outside of Malaysia, you can similarly tap into a server in a different country and pretend that your data traffic is coming from there instead. This would allow you to access websites that may not be available in your home country. Video streaming services, anyone?
Limited Useable Apps
Not all apps are VPN-friendly. To be safe, you might want to stay away from online shopping when using VPN, because some online shops don’t really like VPN. You wouldn’t want your payment transaction to fail, would you?
Video Streaming Services Dislike VPN
Yes, the ability to access different servers via VPN would open a wealth of previously inaccessible contents for you. Unfortunately, video streaming services are also aware of this geography-transcending feature of VPN, and they, like some online shops, don’t like it either. VPN vendors may be blocked from accessing the video streaming services at all, which defeats the point of using VPN for such uses.
Slower Connection Speeds
The act of encrypting your data traffic and forcing it to detour through a VPN’s tunnel will slow down the data transfer speeds. Basically, safer browsing will come at the cost of slower browsing. Are you ready to make that sacrifice, or is fast Internet the most important feature for you?
Trust in VPN Required
You’re trusting the VPN server to keep you anonymous while you browse. However, that also means that you have to trust that the VPN server won’t snatch your information for themselves. What happens if the VPN that you expected would keep you safe when you browse the Internet ends up being the one that siphons your data traffic information instead?
There are a variety of VPN apps on both Google Play Store and the iOS App Store, so if you want to keep your Internet browsing activities private and as anonymous as possible, go ahead and give them a try!