Virtual private networks (VPNs) act as an internet security service that allows users to access the internet as though they were connected to a private network. VPNs use encryption to create a secure connection over unsecured internet infrastructures.
VPNs are a significant way of protecting corporate data and managing user access to said data. They can protect data while users use apps and interact with web properties online, and they can also ensure that specific resources stay hidden. VPNs are typically used for access control, but they can also help when it comes to identity and access management solutions, which can also be essential in managing user access.
As more businesses turn to a future of working remotely in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s through the use of a VPN that they can safely share confidential information without the risk of prying eyes and hackers stealing corporate secrets.
There are three main pillars for assessing the security of a VPN, and although privacy is a key talking point, other factors can hold significant appeal for users.
The Value of a VPN
No matter where you use your laptop, smartphone or tablet, you’re at risk of losing data. Unencrypted data can be extremely vulnerable alongside just about any info that comes through a browser that isn’t secure.
Wireless connections, especially public access points, are especially vulnerable to sniffers or computer programs that are designed to decode data to make it decipherable. This includes locations that offer free WiFi, like airports, hotels and coffee shops.
Sniffers can be used for both bad and good purposes. Hackers can use sniffers to spy, steal data, commit fraud and hijack devices, while the good guys use them to work out how secure networks are.
In public locations, anyone within 100 metres has the ability to access all of your data with the right level of knowledge and tools. They can potentially see everything from your comments on social media to your bank account number and password.
However, VPNs can help to protect your device and the information you access from sniffers and various other types of hacks by encrypting your data.
VPNs work tirelessly to encrypt your data to ensure that no external bodies can access your data. This can go for hackers, but it can also mean that your internet service provider, governmental bodies and corporations will be unable to target you based on your browsing.
With this in mind, let’s take a deeper look into the three main pillars for assessing the security of a VPN:
The appeal of anonymity is a key pillar in assessing a secure VPN. You’re able to browse the internet with complete privacy. This is actioned by good VPN services that hide your location, meaning that you can work, browse or access services without ever leaving a physical trace.
Moreover, VPNs can also block your internet service provider from tracking your movements online. Although most browsers offer an incognito mode, this only hides your browsing history, while VPNs let you hide your traffic from your ISP. Connecting to a VPN server effectively masks your location to all outsiders looking in, making it very difficult for an ISP to see – and potentially block – the sites you’re visiting.
Online anonymity can be regarded as especially pertinent and important today for those of us who are concerned about how internet service providers use our browsing history. In 2017, the US government allocated the power for ISPs to package and sell user data – meaning that every site you visit and purchase you make online could be used by marketers or insurance companies. If this is an unsettling thought, then VPNs can be great for ensuring that your online browsing is fully private.
As lockdown measures begin to ease, we may find ourselves browsing more often on remote WiFi hotspots in public places like coffee shops or in bars. It can be a great way of killing time, but the problem with public WiFi hotspots are just that: public.
By accessing a public WiFi hotspot, you’re sharing a connection with lots of other users within the vicinity. While there are many times where every other person that you’re sharing your connection with are also simply passing their time by window shopping online while waiting for their friend to arrive – all it takes is one person with bad intentions to be lurking with the intention of stealing your data to breach your privacy.
Without utilising a secure VPN, all the information you send and receive in public places – including your passwords and other personal data – is entirely vulnerable to cybercriminals. The power of the tools at the disposal of hackers means that it doesn’t matter whether you’re working remotely on your laptop at the time or simply accessing social media on a smartphone – it’s essential to keep yourself protected, especially if your devices carry information that you can’t afford to lose.
No-long VPNs mean that the network doesn’t collect, or ‘log’ and information transmitted through your network. It won’t save any personal details, information about the websites you’ve visited, what you download, or what you’ve searched for. This ensures comprehensive online privacy that completely obscures information from all parties associated with getting you online – including your VPN provider itself. This means that if a cybercriminal decides to hack into your no-log VPN, there would be no trace of your activity whatsoever – making it a key pillar in assessing the security of a VPN.
Before picking a VPN to use, be sure to check the company’s terms of service to see if it logs your online activities – whether it keeps logs over time or purges them on a periodic basis, or if the provider would ever disclose user information in certain circumstances.
As we continue to move away from the restrictions of COVID-19 lockdowns and towards a future of more sprawling public spaces and remote businesses, VPNs may only become more essential for all of us to use in order to keep our information private and safe from hackers. By choosing a VPN that doesn’t intrude on your activities while avoiding the act of keeping logs on users, you can be sure that your browsing will be safe long into the future.