In an era in which many technology users worry about data security and personal privacy, questions abound about how we can establish secure connections to the Internet. When working from our offices, this is something that is handled typically by the technology team through corporate-level firewalls and other technologies. But what about when we connect our computers and other devices to the Internet while we are away from the office? How can we enhance security in these situations? In many cases, a personal Virtual Private Network (VPN) will improve the security of your data and maintain the privacy of your sensitive personal information.
What is a VPN?
A VPN is a device or service that establishes an encrypted connection to the Internet. With that encrypted connection in place, any browsing you conduct is done through that secure connection. This means that even if you are browsing over an otherwise unsecured connection – such as oftentimes is found in coffee shops, hotels, airports, and other public places – you will have your own private, encrypted “tunnel” in the Internet, allowing you safe and anonymous access.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Personal VPN?
vpn's provide encrypted connections
For the majority of users, the most significant benefit associated with using a VPN is that described in the preceding paragraph – a VPN provides for a secure Internet connection, even if the connection is not otherwise secured. Thus, with a personal VPN in place, you can browse the Internet securely. You can also engage in transactions that would be risky over the otherwise unsecured connection.
Private Web Browsing
Another advantage of using a VPN is that it maintains the privacy of your activity while you are connected to the Internet. Not even your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can see what you are doing while you are connected to the VPN. And if your ISP cannot see your activity, certainly marketers will not be able to see and track your actions either! This, of course, will reduce the number of targeted ads you see while browsing.
Change Your Location, Virtually
A third benefit of browsing behind a VPN is that your connection will be “bounced” off a server in a different geographic region. Thus, if you are in a country that blocks a website that you need to access, a VPN could make your connection appear as if it is originating from a different country. In doing so, you may then be able to access the site that would otherwise be blocked.
Secure File Transmission
A fourth advantage of using a VPN is that you can securely transmit files to other parties using this technology. This reduces our dependency on email, which is a notoriously unsecured means of transmitting data. VPNs allow you to transfer sensitive data through the encrypted, private tunnel they create on your behalf. Therefore, you can transfer sensitive data without fear of compromise.
While other benefits may accrue in certain situations, the four outlined above are the primary advantages associated with a personal VPN service. Because of these advantages, those who frequently connect to public WiFi services, those who frequently work away from the office, and those who travel often should consider using a personal VPN.
Who Are the Leading Personal VPN Providers?
You can choose from many quality personal VPN services today. To help you narrow down the field, following are the nine most highly-rated personal VPN services according to CNET.
All the services mentioned above can improve the security and privacy of your browsing sessions while you are away from your home or office. We encourage you to access and read the reviews on each of these services from the CNET article, linked above. That way, you can make an informed decision about which personal VPN service is best for you.
Further, all these services are affordable – pricing ranges from free to $12.99 per month. Most service providers offer annual plans that provide substantial discounts off the monthly pricing. Some of the service providers even offer two and three-year plans that further reduce costs.
One consideration that escapes many when choosing a VPN service is the need to protect browsing sessions on mobile devices. Therefore, consider VPN services that offer protection for mobile devices to ensure that your activities and actions there remain secure.
Our connected lives are here to stay. With that comes the mandate to secure our data and maintain our personal privacy. Unfortunately, too many people fail to understand the risks associated with unsecured connections. Others choose to ignore these risks, placing sensitive information in jeopardy. Fortunately, one easy and inexpensive solution to this problem is to utilize a personal VPN service. With a VPN, you can safely and securely access the internet, transfer files, conduct business, and maintain the privacy of your browsing sessions. The personal VPN tools that are available today are quite good at protecting your information. Further, they are inexpensive and simple to install and set up. Therefore, if you are concerned about data security and personal privacy, consider using adding a personal VPN today!