IT and Tech

How to use a VPN to secure your data

You don’t need to have something to hide to want to secure your internet connection. You don’t have to feel guilty or assume the security services will want to know why you’re using a VPN either. Privacy is your right but it is also your responsibility. Whether you use the internet for business or pleasure, what you do online is your business and yours alone.

A VPN helps with that.

If you read ‘Why everyone should use a VPN while online’ you will know why you should always use a VPN whenever you use the internet. Even if you don’t have anything to hide or are doing nothing wrong, security is paramount and you have to take responsibility for it.

Choosing a VPN

If you perform a quick search for ‘VPN providers’ you will see hundreds of results. The VPN market is very popular right now and for good reason. Choice is definitely not something you will be short of. But how do you choose a good VPN provider?

No logging policy

The most important characteristic of a quality VPN provider is no logging. This means the provider does not log your IP address, log any of your browsing or keep records of anything you do. This is precautionary, but should the authorities request your browsing data, a no logging VPN won’t have anything to give them.

OpenVPN support

OpenVPN is a VPN protocol and the protocol of choice right now. If the provider offers PPTP, L2TP, IPsec, great but it’s OpenVPN you want. L2TP/IPsec is more secure but less open while OpenVPN is the current standard.

256-bit encryption

256-bit encryption is the minimum standard now. Some VPN providers still offer 128-bit but that is no longer secure enough. The VPN provider you choose should offer 256-bit encryption at the very least to be worth considering.

VPN servers and locations

For most users, you won’t need hundreds of VPN servers across the world but it’s good to have options. If you want to access Netflix from somewhere else, having a range of VPN servers in different countries will be useful. For general security purposes a couple of servers in your home country and some international options should be enough.

Concurrent connections

While a minor consideration, if you want to spread the VPN goodness to your family, you need enough concurrent connections that everyone could theoretically be able to use it at the same time.

VPN services worth checking out:

Private Internet Access

I use Private Internet Access because of the price, security and volume of VPN servers it offers. The provider has 3,321 VPN servers in 32 countries across the world. It also offers 256-bit encryption and works to stay a step ahead of the game as much as possible. Private Internet Access has an app for most operating systems and mobile devices too.

NordVPN

NordVPN is one of the most secure VPN providers around but also one of the most expensive. You do get double-hop VPN though. This is where you connect to a VPN server and then hop to another VPN server and exit there. This adds a double layer of anonymity. The app is also pretty good and offers 256-bit encryption.

With over 5,200 servers in 60 countries, NordVPN has the size of network that should keep you secure wherever you might travel.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is one of the faster VPN options with over 3,000 VPN servers across 160 locations in 94 countries. ExpressVPN has an app that works well, a network known for its speed and is middle of the road when for cost. It uses 256-bit encryption, is well reviewed and is well worth checking out.

IPVanish

IPVanish has over 1,300 servers in over 75 locations across the world. It has a fast network, 256-bit encryption, a decent app with simple setup and is fast to connect and disconnect. It is in the middle of the road as far as pricing goes and performs well.

CyberGhost

CyberGhost is a competent VPN service with over 3,600 servers in over 60 countries. The app is fast and easy to use and makes connecting simple. The network is fast and the service is reliable enough for most uses. It is comparable to these other options in terms of pricing and also offers the same 256-bit encryption.

PureVPN

PureVPN is another worthy contender. It is fast and reliable and has over 2,000 servers across the world. PureVPN also has a clever feature that lets you divide your internet traffic part over VPN and part in the clear. This allows access to local content like news or weather while allowing access to geoblocked content such as Netflix.

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