How to Choose a VPN for Your Smartphone
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are a must for travelers or anyone using public WiFi connections with sensitive data. The ideal VPN encrypts data as it leaves a users’ device – laptop, smartphone, or tablet. The data is encrypted and this protected during the entire trip to the router and back to the users’ device.
The (Federal Trade Commission) FTC recently wrote about how to choose a VPN for a smartphone. Although as a US federal agency, they will not actually come out and recommend a commercial product, ever, they do try to educate the consumer on what to look for in an app.
VPN’s are not always secure as you may assume they are! The FTC cited that some mobile app VPNs don’t actually encrypt any data at all! Which is quite a surprise considering it has pretty much one job, and encryption is it! Like all mobile apps, VPN apps request permission to access certain areas of your smartphone and its content. Make sure that all of the permissions are truly necessary and that you are not allowing too much intrusion in to your device.
What is a VPN?
A VPN, short for virtual private network, is a way to safeguard data while using any WiFi connection. It is commonly used on shared connections such as coffee shop WiFi and hotel connections. VPNs are common for corporate business travelers.
VPNs above board use is to protect the user’s data. Another use for VPNs is to mask the location of where your web traffic is originating from. For example, I could a VPN to make it look like my log in to my email account came from a connection in Canada, instead of the east cost of the United States.
What are VPNs Used For?
IT professionals, like system administrators, use VPNs to test servers, hardware, websites, and apps to ensure they are performing as planned. Hackers however, use VPNs to evade detection. A hacker can make it appear that their access difficult to trace by bouncing it tough many servers.
VPNs are used by others for data privacy when using any shared connection. Although many believe that they need to protect their usernames and passwords when logging into banking and credit cards, the reality is hacking can occur with less sensitive yet personal sites. For example, logging into social media accounts, can give hackers the chance to sniff your username and passwords then extract personally identifying information about you. Social media posts contain information about individuals that are common password reset questions like pets’ names, hometown, parent’s names, as well as other information.
A virtual private network is a useful app that the business and leisure traveler can both benefit from. Consider downloading one to your device to protect your data while online.
Michelle writes about cyber security as well as how to protect your data online. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She conducts workshops focused on web technologies and enjoys public speaking along with her connected rescue mutt.