“A virtual private network is the best way to stay anonymous online and to secure your web traffic. We’ve tested more than 50 VPNs, and these are our top performers” stated PC Mag’s, Max Eddy.
What Is a VPN?
In the simplest terms, a VPN is used to create a secure, encrypted connection—which can be thought of as a tunnel—between your computer and a server operated by the VPN service. In a professional setting, this tunnel makes you part of the company’s network, as if you were physically sitting in the office—hence the name.
While you’re connected to a VPN, all your network traffic passes through this protected tunnel, and no one—not even your ISP—can see your traffic until it exits the tunnel from the VPN server and enters the public internet. If you make sure to only connect to websites secured with HTTPS, your data will continue to be encrypted even after it leaves the VPN.
Think about it this way: If your car pulls out of your driveway, someone can follow you and see where you are going, how long you are at your destination, and when you are coming back. They might even be able to peek inside your car and learn more about you. With a VPN service, you are essentially driving into a closed parking garage, switching to a different car, and driving out, so that no one who was originally following you knows where you went.
VPNs Keep You Safe Online
Have you become so comfortable with the idea of transmitting your data via Wi-Fi that you’ve stopped worrying about the safety of said data—and of who else might be looking at it? You’re not alone. In fact, you’re probably in the majority. That’s a huge privacy and security problem. Public Wi-Fi networks, which are commonplace and convenient, are unfortunately also highly convenient for attackers who are looking to compromise your personal information. When even your ISP is allowed to sell your browsing history it’s time to begin thinking about protecting your data. That’s where virtual private networks, or VPNs, come in.
Who Needs a VPN?
The protection provided by a VPN offers users many advantages. First and foremost, it prevents anyone on the same network access point (or anywhere else) from intercepting your web traffic in a man-in-the-middle attack. This is especially handy for travelers and for those using public Wi-Fi networks, such as web surfers at hotels, airports, and coffee shops. VPNs also cloak your computer’s actual IP address, making it harder for advertisers (or spies, or hackers) to track you online.
How to Choose a VPN Service
The VPN services market has exploded in the past few years, and a small competition has turned into an all-out melee. Many providers are capitalizing on the general population’s growing concerns about surveillance and cybercrime, which means it’s getting hard to tell when a company is actually providing a secure service and when it’s throwing out a lot of fancy words while selling snake oil. In fact, since VPN services have become so popular in the wake of Congress killing ISP privacy rules, there have even been fake VPNs popping up, so be careful. It’s important to keep a few things in mind when evaluating which VPN service is right for you: reputation, performance, type of encryption used, transparency, ease of use, support, and extra features. Don’t just focus on price, though that is an important factor.
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