Do you use your phone, tablet or laptop for work? Do you travel? Do you have concerns about online privacy or protecting your information from cybercriminals? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need a virtual private network (VPN).
What is a VPN and How Does it Work?
A VPN is a secure connection between your computer and your desired destination. It’s like an anonymous middleman that allows you to browse privately and securely, while encrypting your data and masking your location. Normally when you connect to the web, you are first routed through your internet service provider (ISP) like Comcast, who then connects to you to whichever website you are visiting. When you use a VPN, you connect to a server run by your VPN provider, which routes your traffic instead.
Source: Cactus VPN
Not only does a VPN prevent your ISPs from monitoring and logging what you are doing on the internet, it prevents other actors (legitimate and nefarious) from tracking your activity down to your specific device. This is because a VPN makes it so you appear to access the internet from the IP address of your VPN server – not your device’s specific IP address.
Who Wants your Data?
- Cybercriminals - Individual criminals and syndicates want your data for blackmail or to sell your information. A full ID package (name, address, phone number, SSN, email address, and bank account number) sells for $30-$100 on the black market. Stolen credentials can also be used to infect your company’s information technology systems.
- Governments – Many countries don't have the same freedoms and protections we enjoy in many Western nations. Some governments, including that of China and Russia, actively restrict websites. These regimes monitor individuals in their countries and take action against those who are deemed to constitute threats to their regime. Moreover, certain governments have been known to conduct commercial espionage on prominent business travelers in order to help their own companies gain an industrial advantage.
- Advertisers – ISPs compile your browsing logs and sell them to advertising companies. With that data, advertisers can tailor their content directly to certain regions or browsing habits. Over the last year, the regulatory environment has made it much easier for ISPs to sell your information.
The most important reason to have a VPN is prevention. People lock their doors to prevent unwanted – and possibly dangerous individuals from gaining access to their home. A VPN helps prevent hostile actors like cybercriminals and foreign governments from gaining access to your information. VPNs encrypt all the information that leaves your device, thereby protecting your passwords, financial details, and email information when surfing the web. Even if a highly skilled hacker does intercept your information, significant effort would be needed to decipher it because VPNs provides anonymity in numbers since the traffic from every computer that's being routed through the VPN server appears to be coming from a single user. In addition, quality VPNs offer other security protocols such as DNS leak protection and Killswitch features to augment the protection offered by the VPN itself.
Choose the Right One
While there are many great VPN options to choose from, free VPNs are largely counterproductive. If your VPN is free, chances are that your personal data is the product. Free VPNs, such as Hola, log the websites you visit and how much time you spend on those pages with timestamps – all before selling your information. More importantly, free VPN servers are susceptible to hacking and many hackers use free VPNs as bait to lure unsuspecting users to download malware or trackers onto their system.
Standing by to Support...
If you want maximal VPN protection, we recommend Global Guardian’s VPN services for corporate, residential, and personal devices. Unlike other premium VPNs, Global Guardian’s VPN service utilizes our custom threat intelligence feed to actively monitor your VPN tunnel for malicious activity. Global Guardian's VPN in conjunction with our tailored cyber security solutions provides our clients with the ultimate defense against today’s cyber threats.