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A Guide To VPNs (Virtual Private Networks)

VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) have become a key component in the cybersecurity arsenal. It’s one of those techy abbreviations that often gets bandied around by us geeks, but we have seen a surge in the popularity of VPNs over the past few years. And, it’s a good job, too.

Written by Adam Bovan

February 2019

A Guide To Virtual Private Networks

More and more people are using public Wi-Fi in local coffee shops, airports and train stations, they are more at risk of having their data harvested by hackers.

Although not totally foolproof, a VPN can help you to stay secure when working remotely and out of your office.

We’ve previously talked about VPNs on this blog when discussing how to stay secure when using public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Today, we’re going in a little deeper to explain what a VPN is and what you should consider before getting one.

Why invest in a VPN?

A VPN is a nifty bit of tech that scrambles the information sent between your device and the websites you visit and log on to.

Some describe it as a secure tunnel that makes it difficult for intruders to access your data and monitor your online activity.

This means you can stay secure when using public Wi-Fi hotspots that are notoriously vulnerable to hackers. Usually, this is because free Wi-Fi is usually not encrypted, so anyone can easily see what you’re searching, sending and accessing.

It only takes one person with the wrong intentions to be hanging about for you to get stung.

On top of this, scam artists have been known to create fake hotspots for punters to unwittingly connect to. It could be masked at ‘Station1’ or ‘Cafe-Wifi’, but – in reality – it’s a trap so they can access your valuable details, such as bank numbers and files.

An additional benefit is a VPN can allow you to access geo-restricted content.

So, when you’re travelling abroad and wish to catch up on the latest episode of Corrie – which may be blocked in the region you’re heading – you can still find out what Roy Cropper has been up to.

What should you consider when buying a VPN?

Before you jump in, here are some things to think about.

How much are you paying?

There are a lot of VPN providers offering the technology for free, but some of them cannot be trusted.

We’d recommend spending some money on your VPN if you’re serious about staying secure.

Can it handle your usage?

VPN capacity is often overlooked, but some providers put a limit on how much data you can use.

You can check this by trying to find out how many servers a provider has. The more servers online, the more capacity they have to support you.

Is it compatible with all your devices?

If you want to use the VPN with your phone, tablet and laptop, make sure it’s compatible and can be used on multiple devices.

You may think you’ll only need it for your main laptop, but how many times have you needed to work from your phone or send emails from a tablet whilst out and about?

Where is it based?

Lastly, if you are wanting to stream or access sites outside of your region, be sure to check where the VPN provider is based.

For example, US-only services would need US-based servers.

It’s important to remember that a VPN is to be used as part of your wider cybersecurity plan. If you need a hand with any aspect of cybersecurity, speak with one of our Yorkshire lads today.

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