Securing Your Personal Data
Personal data security is a concern for most Internet users. There are many activities that users can do online, such as banking, shopping and personal and professional communications. Unfortunately, without the proper security precautions, the user’s information can potentially be accessed by outside parties. Hackers are constantly working on ways to intercept personal and financial data that can then be used to perpetrate identity theft and fraud.
Taking Internet security precautions is critical. Antivirus software and firewalls should be used. However, they cannot protect users from having personal data intercepted, particularly when transmitted over unsecured connections. Virtual private networks (VPNs) are among the best precautionary tools for keeping personal data secure.
VPNs Protect User Data
When users interact with sites on the Internet, they transmit data. This can include the user’s log-in credentials, passwords and credit card numbers. Other personal information can be transmitted as well, including personal emails or medical information.
VPNs protect a user’s information by encrypting all data they transmit online. This encrypted data is then conveyed through a secure tunnel until it reaches the VPN server. That server passes the information to the intended destination. Third-party snoops will find it very difficult to intercept data, and if they do manage, they will find the data to be unusable.
VPNs Protect User Privacy
The VPN further protects the users by ensuring their privacy. When a user connects to the Internet, they are assigned an IP address by their Internet service providers (ISPs). An IP address can reveal a lot about users, including their location, ISP, connection method and even choice of browser. Third-parties, such as website hosts, search engines and even ISPs, can monitor users’ browsing habits. This is generally done for marketing purposes, but may be considered an intrusion by many users. In the wrong hands, this tracking can even be used to perpetrate sophisticated phishing schemes.
However, if a user connects to the Internet with a VPN, their privacy is secured. Data is transmitted through the ISP through a secure VPN tunnel. While the ISP can see that data is being transmitted, it cannot read it or see what the destination is. Furthermore, the VPN will assign the user a virtual IP address. This IP address will mask IP address assigned by the ISP. Therefore, third-party trackers will be unable to monitor the online browsing habits of individual users.
The Importance of VPNs for Mobile Devices
Today’s mobile devices have made it possible to take everything people did at home and do it on the road. Many devices come with 3G and even 4G/LTE, but many mobile users still connect via public Wi-Fi connections. Travelers frequently take advantage of Wi-Fi hotspots at airports, hotels and coffee shops. However, public Wi-Fi connections are notoriously unsecure and put the user’s information at risk. It is very easy for hackers to intercept data as it is transmitted through these connections.
It is also not uncommon for mobile device users to leave their Wi-Fi connections on and open at all times. When this happens, the user will continue to connect to any open wireless connection they come across throughout their day. Hackers sometimes set up nefarious hotspots for this purpose. Users are not even aware they are connected to these networks and hackers can access their data.
Fortunately, VPNs are supported on virtually every Internet capable device. They are easy to install and configure and can protect a user when using wireless connections. Even if a user connects to a malicious network, their data is encrypted and encapsulated and therefore of no use to third-party snoops.
Maintaining online security is important. The user’s sensitive information is subject to falling into the wrong hands if security is not maintained.