Online security is (or at least it should be) our top priority every time we go online. While the internet is undoubtedly an amazing and useful invention, it also poses a lot of risks that can compromise our identity or reputation, can bankrupt us and more.
How to protect yourself on the Internet
There are various methods you can use to keep yourself secure while browsing the internet and you should apply as many of them as possible. Here are some useful tips:
- Use strong passwords for all your accounts. Whether it is your Facebook account, your e-mails and so on, always make sure you choose passwords that are hard to crack. Passwords such as “a b c d e”, “1 2 3 4 5”, your date of birth or name, should be avoided. Also, try not to use a single password for all your accounts. The best thing to do is to use combinations of letters and numbers or better yet, use a password manager. A password manager generates strong, unique passwords for you
- Protect your computer/laptop by encrypting the hard drive. In case your device is stolen or you lose it, a simple password won’t be of much help. A tech savvy person could easily find a way to access your data, even with a password, by removing the hard drive and connecting it to another computer for instance. The safest way to protect your computer is to encrypt the hard drive. Your OS should have a built-in encryption tool such as BitLocker for Windows and FileVault for Mac, and you can also use external ones such as VeraCrypt. Encryption works by scrambling all your data so that it won’t make any sense to anyone looking to decipher it. The only way you can do that with encrypted data is by holding the encryption key, which should only be available to you. Fortunately, our smartphones (both iOS and Android-based), don’t need additional encryption, because as long as you use a password, they will automatically encrypt your data
- Use the two-factor authentication feature wherever possible. All major websites provide this security tool and you should take advantage of it every time you can
- As far as personal devices go, use a reliable Antivirus program for additional protection
The benefits of using a VPN
In addition to all the aforementioned security methods, there is another one that has become more and more popular over the years, and for good reason. VPNs (virtual private networks) are a great way to enjoy a secure connection, regardless of the network you are using. Virtual private networks are another encryption method and they encrypt all the Internet data transmitted between your device and the VPN server you are connected to. In order to achieve that, VPNs use different protocols. VPNs are useful in all circumstances, but they are all the more valuable when you are using them to connect to a public WiFi, because that is when you’re the most vulnerable to online threats.
As you’ll find out from the articles suggested above, there are other advantages to using a VPN, than just to protect your identity and data from being stolen or misused:
- A VPN helps you bypass censorship and access geo-restricted content/websites such as Netflix, Hulu, etc.
- It keeps you anonymously when you are downloading torrents. Torrenting is not exactly legal, it is more like a ‘borderline’ online activity. While accessing content from torrents is not the worst thing you could do, sharing that downloaded content with other users is, because that means you are breaking copyright laws. A VPN makes it possible for you to change your IP address and hide your real location, thus becoming untraceable when using torrents
- You can even use a VPN to buy cheaper plane tickets. Airline companies usually raise prices depending on the country you are located in or when they see you visiting their website for more than one time, because then they know you’re really in need of a ticket. The way they can figure out that you’ve accessed their site again is by storing cookies. Your country can easily be found out too, by looking at your IP address. With a VPN you can connect to a fresh server each time you want to buy a ticket. You can also connect to a server from a low-income country, as research shows airline companies offer better deals for people who live in such countries
How to choose a good VPN service
Not all users have the same needs and expectations when it comes to VPNs. While speed may be important for some people, others might look for the most secure VPN or for the VPN that is the most successful at unlocking Netflix. However, regardless of your needs, there are some general guidelines you should follow. Here are the most important factors to consider when deciding on a VPN provider:
- Is the VPN secure enough? Does it offer strong encryption and other security measures such as DNS leak protection, a kill switch feature, etc.?
- How fast is the VPN service? It is a well-known fact that VPNs generally slow down your device. However, not all of them are equally bad or good when it comes to speed. Some have higher speeds and a greater performance than others. Do your homework, do your tests, take advantage of the free trial if possible, and find out how fast the VPN service is, before subscribing to any service
- How many servers does the provider have and in how many locations? The more servers, the better. But even more important than the number of available servers, are the locations of those servers. The best thing is to choose a VPN provider that has servers all around the world. Major providers offer even thousands of servers and they are spread all over the Globe: Europe, Asia, Africa, North, Central and South America, etc. NordVPN, ExpressVPN, CyberGhost and PureVPN are just a few good examples when it comes to coverage
- Does the VPN service allow torrenting? If you know you are downloading a lot, you should pay attention to this aspect, too
- Can the VPN service unblock Netflix and other geo-restricted websites? Again, it depends on your needs/preferences, but if you are streaming a lot, don’t forget to do some research on this aspect as well
Is IVPN the new contender for VPN supremacy?
IVPN is a VPN service based in Gibraltar. It’s been around since 2009 and has grown into a popular and competitive VPN provider.
IVPN has servers in almost 40 countries around the world, including US, countries in Europe (Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Switzerland, United Kingdom and more), Singapore, Japan, Canada and others. While the number of servers isn’t as impressive as with providers such as NordVPN, ExpressVPN and others, this number is constantly growing and the coverage is more than decent.
One of the biggest strengths of IVPN is privacy. IVPN takes privacy very seriously and has a truly ‘no logs’ policy. This is partially possible thanks to the location of the company, as Gibraltar is under EU jurisdiction, which places a great deal of importance on privacy.
Same goes for the security aspect. IVPN is very ‘paranoid’ when it comes to security, too, as it even claims it on its website. IVPN uses ‘paranoid’ 256 bit AES + 4096 bit RSA encryption.
Another noteworthy quality of IVPN is its blazing speed. IVPN is one of the fastest VPNs on the market today and it also offers unlimited bandwidth.
Other important features to mention:
- IVPN allows up to 5 simultaneous devices/account
- IVPN has Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux apps and works with routers
- It offers a 7-day refund
- It allows torrenting on most of its servers
IVPN is definitely a competitive VPN service. It is not expensive, it is very transparent, private, secure, user-friendly and impressively fast.
Our top pick for the best VPN service on the budget
In case you want to try a VPN but you want to start with the best affordable option out there, one of the best providers you can go with is TorGuard.
- Great coverage (more than 3,000 servers in over 50 countries worldwide)
- Affordable (see their pricing)
- 7-day free trial
- Great for torrenting