Android is hands-down one of the most popular operating systems for handheld devices these days, and with good reason. It’s efficient, functional and completely open-source, meaning that anyone can code apps for the OS. Additionally, Google has a pretty serious quality control program that all apps have to go through before they are allowed into the Play Store, which means that most apps are of pretty impressive quality. If this is the kind of thing that you need in a smartphone, Android is definitely the operating system that you should check out.
However, there are certain drawbacks to Android devices concerning Internet security, and though many of them aren’t the fault of the operating system itself, they still exist and need to be remedied. First off, most versions of Android don’t come with a pre-installed mobile security app, and since smartphones and other handheld devices often connect to insecure, public wireless networks, they’re at higher risk of security breaches and cyber attacks from hackers and malware.
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One of the easiest ways to prevent this is to browse through a virtual private network. There are many ways in which your online security and privacy can benefit from using a VPN, and today we’re going to be talking about using VPNs for that particular purpose, as well as how to choose the right one to suit all your needs.
Why Should You Use a VPN?
The moment that your computer connects to a VPN server, something really cool happens to your connection. First off, all the data and all the traffic you happen to be transmitting via your Internet connection is split into packets and encrypted – this is a process known as encapsulation. This makes the data much harder to intercept, and even in the event that a third party succeeds in intercepting it, it’s almost impossible to actually read because of the encryption.
Additionally, a VPN makes your connection more private. It does this by giving your connection a new IP address – which makes sense, since IP addresses are intrinsic to your location, and your VPN server is in a different location than yourself. Even if it’s just next door, it’s a different computer, and that means a different IP. This is important because a website or a hacker can learn a lot about your connection and your entire online presence just by looking at your IP address. All of this information, such as your browser’s user agent, your approximate location, your operating system and more, is now obscured and hidden. Of course, then you have to look at the issue of whether your VPN actually monitors any if your traffic or if they have a zero-logging policy, but we’ll get to that a bit later.
Choosing the Right VPN
Now that you know how a VPN works and how it can help shield the privacy of your handheld Android device, it’s important to know how to choose the right one your particular needs. There are a couple of criteria that you need to look at when doing this. The first and arguably the most important one is the security protocol support of the VPN provider.
In other words, you need to look at which security tunneling protocols the provider uses, since the overall level of security will significantly depend on this. PPTP is considered to be highly insecure these days, as is L2TP. What you should look for these days is OpenVPN – this is the most modern and arguably most secure protocol, and it’s rather easy to set up so there’s no reason why your provider shouldn’t be using it; but definitely check before you pay for a subscription.
Speaking of paying, the next choice you need to make is whether you want to opt out for a paid VPN, or just use a free one from the Play Store. I highly recommend pain VPNs, for several reasons; they will almost certainly offer you higher speeds than a free one, there’s a higher chance that none of your traffic will be logged (very important), and it’s less likely that you’ll run into any inconvenient bandwidth caps. VPN providers these days are pretty cheap and you can find a great one for as low as $5 a month, so again, I really recommend it over free VPNs.
Finally, you need to look at your VPN provider’ specific logging policy when you’re choosing the right one. Whether a company will log your traffic depends on a few things, but mostly on the region the provider is located in. This is because different laws have jurisdiction over different area, and sometimes these laws oblige VPN providers to collect and share personal data with the government. The NSA does this regularly, and this is how they sometimes end up catching cyber criminials; which is a great thing, but it still means that your Internet traffic will be monitored if your VPN is within jurisdiction of the NSA.
Some VPNs claim only to keep certain information about your traffic, such as the total bandwidth you used up and the overall time of your connection, and this is used mainly for maintenance purposes. Certain providers employ a strict zero-logging policy (IPVanish, NordVPN and some others, for example), and this is the kind of service that you ultimately want to be looking for. Of course, it’s a bit tough to find a VPN with all of these characteristics at the same time, but there are a few of them out there that meet most of the criteria.
That about covers everything you need to know about protecting your online privacy with a VPN on an Android system. It’s really the fastest and most convenient way to add some high-grade security to your smartphone’s Internet connection, protect it from malware and hacker threats, and allow you to browse more safely. I wish you the best of luck in setting up a VPN that’s perfect for your own needs, so you can forget about your security being compromised in the future.