Technology

How to Protect Your Personal Data With VPN

We constantly wake up to news of fresh online security scares and this makes it absolutely compulsory that you must seek means of ensuring that your personal data is protected. The  Identity Theft Resource Center and CyberScout annual end-of-year data breach report, revealed a 126% increase in exposed consumer’s personal data and 1.68 billion email-related credentials. In

Also very disturbing is the February report that hackers were distributing a “megaleak” among themselves of more than 2.2 billion unique usernames and passwords. These were personal data obtained in recent years as part of database breaches from top-notch sites such as Dropbox, LinkedIn, and Yahoo among others.

You still must not undermine the fact that hundreds of millions of Facebook users had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by thousands of Facebook employees. If you take into consideration the mammoth size of cybercrimes and the sophistication of cybercriminals you may want to believe that taking steps to protect yourself online might seem like a fool’s errand. But it’s a task that must be necessarily accomplished.

VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, are services that route your online traffic through an encrypted server so you can browse safely and anonymously on any public Wi-Fi network. They’ve grown in popularity in response to recent cyber threats, and as such the VPN market is ripe with competition.

Most highly rated VPNs have some features that stand them out among the pack. They are able to double encrypt their databases as well as your personal data that are sent through their private tunnels. This ensures that you bypass content restrictions and are incognito when browsing.

The ability to enjoy high-speed connections anytime you’re browsing content or streaming videos must be enhanced on its connection, without bothering if you’re using a public Wi-Fi hotspot or a cellular network. A good VPN should be able to automatically shut down your site whenever your connection drops so that your personal data is not exposed to leakages.

After all, the essence of connecting to a VPN is to ensure the security and this is about ensuring that all your internet traffic is able to go through an encrypted connection running through your personal computer to the VPN server. But since the software is written by humans, mistakes might occur from time to time and this is a very important precaution to take by any service provider.

A VPN system that is faulty will have programming and configuration errors that may allow internet traffic to travel outside the encrypted connection. This definitely defeats the purpose of using a VPN and your online activities are invariably left to outside spies and observers.

Any VPN you connect to must enshrine the “no logging policy”  which means that it will never attempt to record any of your activities while you’re connected to its servers. You should be able to surf the web with total peace of mind with your VPN at all times and from any part of the world.

You must know that VPN companies have the ability if they so choose, to monitor all your online activities and can even go about keeping records which actually is highly unethical. What they do is completely different from accidental leaking, because it involves actively looking at your browsing history.

They may be doing this with the intention of selling out your data to anybody interested and this can be very harmful. You must therefore not unnecessary trust them and should be very cautious not to allow your information to fall into the hands of data brokers or any other unwarranted body.

VPN providers are not doing you any special service by protecting your data, they are only abiding by the laws requiring them to do so. They, therefore, need to post comprehensive privacy policies describing how they will handle your persoanl data.

If you subscribe to a free VPN as the case may with some brands and individuals, one area of concern to the privacy of your data is allowing ads. You actually may not be able to do anything about this since they are meant to pay for the free services you enjoy from the company.

The ads, whether you like it or not will intrude on your activities since they can always pop up at any time which could be to your annoyance. Apart from the intrusiveness, there are other things you may want to consider before using a free, ad-supported VPN.

Your free VPN may fall victim to malicious ads that could detrimentally be logging usernames and passwords without your service provider being aware. Hackers seize such opportunities to embed hidden logs which they use to send you unwanted email.

If you are technically inclined ant to be on the safe side, you may consider setting up your own server, though this may seem expensive, it will definitely pay out more on the long run. You can make use of cloud computing services.

On the other hand, you can still consider using the Tor browser, however, for better protection especially when trying to select a commercial VPN service, you must endeavor to read the site’s privacy policy carefully even if it appears boring and uninteresting. Understand all the clauses.

Don’t go for long subscriptions, buy shorter ones, even if it’s on a month-to-month basis. After a period of trial and error, you may land something good.

Photo Credit: sjrankin Flickr via Compfight cc Tagged , , , ,

About John Ejiofor

John Ejiofor is a curious life-researcher, whose quest to finding answers to life's pertinent questions has led to founding Nature Torch. This blog aims to debate and explore many questions about our earth -- including those a lot of people are uncomfortable with asking. He has been published on some of the internet's most respected websites, which you can find online.
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