Virtual Private Networks
Protect Your Privacy
Customers are increasingly asking us how to protect their online privacy. In this thought provoking article we will endeavour to answer some of your questions, and provide a trustworthy solution vital for protecting the privacy of wireless connections and your internet traffic.
Many of our customers have a very limited understanding about internet security. Most are shocked when they learn the extent to which their online internet browsing and social media use is tracked and monitored. Smartphone users rarely know their phones regularly report information back to developers, software companies and social media platforms, even at night while they're asleep. In a recent test on one mobile phone we tested it tried to contact or pass data back to app devlopers, companies, marketing organisations and social media platforms over 130 times in one night while in standby mode sitting on a table.
As if the above isn't enough, I haven't even touched on how much of your data is passed over wireless networks unencrypted and visible to anyone with a desire to snoop. Fortunately there is a solution and it is not expensive, rather it is worth its weight in gold and it is called a Virtual Private Network or VPN. A VPN creates a fully encrypted secure tunnel through which all your wireless and internet traffic safely passes. VPN's use to be complex solutions only used by large corporations. These days setting up a consumer VPN is a simple process via a readily available smartphone, tablet, and computers app.
Here are answers to some of your common questions about VPN's and why you should consider using a VPN. At the bottom of the page is information on what we consider to be the best VPN app and an explanation about why we recommend it.
Normally, when surfing the internet or using internet connected apps you first connect to the internet service provider (ISP), which then gets you connected to the websites you wish to visit. This creates a chance to expose your personal information to internet service providers since your internet traffic passes through their servers. So, they can view and monitor every activity you undertake online. Australia recently passed laws forcing ISP's to keep records of some of your online activity.
In addition, anytime you use a wireless network which is not encrypted it is possibly for anyone with the right tools to snoop and monitor your wireless traffic. This can expose passwords and logins. This is particularly risky on free wireless networks at places like take-away outlets, airports and shopping centres.
Virtual Private Networks (VPN's) are private networks inside the internet. At the most basic level, a VPN acts like a shield or secure tunnel between your devices and the internet. A VPN does this by encrypting "all" the traffic between your devices and the internet. At present banks, many online shopping services and lots of websites already encrypt your data, but many do not.
In your house your wireless traffic is often encrypted already. But most free wireless networks are completely unencrypted leaving you vulnerable. Here, a VPN protects you because all the traffic from your device is encrypted by the VPN. Think of an airline lounge with hundreds of guests using the unencrypted free wireless network. Any hacker with some readily available software could sit there monitoring the lounges network and obtain personal information. In this case if you use a VPN your date is safe because all "your" traffic is encrypted even if the wireless network is not.
There are many many reasons to use a VPN. Firstly it hides your IP address. Your IP address reveals your location. Ever wondered why you only see a limited set of movies in you online streaming service, or why your airline website only shows you airfares which are often higher if booked within a country? It's because their websites see your IP address when you visit and they know what country you're in and can charge accordingly. One of the great benefits of a VPN is you can choose which country or even state your computer appears to be in. It's as simple as selecting the country you want to appear to be in when you connect. Here are just some of the other benefits of a VPN:
- A VPN encrypts all your wireless and internet traffic protecting your privacy.
- A VPN hides your IP address allowing you to appear to be in another state or country.
- A VPN lets you shop around to get the best online deal, rather than limiting you to the country you're in. For example an airline might charge someone in Australia $400 for a particular airfare but charge someone in Singapore $200 for the same airfare etc.
- Access more content. Ever wanted access to the bigger libraries of content streaming services provide in countries like America? Well just set your VPN app to tell the world your located in America when you connect. It's as easy as that.
- Watch more sport. Ever been restricted from watching a particular sports event because it's not streamed to our location. For example a live footy match which isn't streamed in Victoria but is streamed to other states. Easy, just tell your VPN to connect as if it's in another state and you're all set.
- Many search engines harvest your data and log all your online activity, recording what you look at, how long you look at it etc. This information can then be used to target adds at you or worse sell the information to the highest bidder.
- There are many other benefits of using a VPN but in short... it just makes the internet safer and better.
Please read this carefully... VPN's are setup by purchasing and installing a simple app on each of your devices. Licensing usually lets you use the one purchase on multiple devices. There are often plans which allow family sharing. Configuration is very simply and usually done by answering a few simple questions. Once setup you tell the VPN app what country you want to appear to be in and it continues to use that setting until you change it. You don't have to keep the app running once it's set up. You can also simply turn the VPN off at anytime from within the app.
IMPORTANT - Great care is needed when selecting a VPN app. There are dozens available. They are NOT all good and some are less secure than others. "Most" website which recommend VPN's get commissions from the provider. As an example a website with a review showing the Top 5 VPN Apps for 2019 is probably getting paid by each of those app developers. It doesn't mean the apps are not good, just that it's murky trying to identify unbiased information.
Intelligence sharing agreements exist between and within the five, nine, and fourteen eyes international alliances (groups of countries which share intelligence information).
It's possible intelligence sharing agreements may pose a risk to your privacy. Online privacy is becoming a bigger concern for internet users as international surveillance practices grow larger and more effective.
There are many reasons to be wary of various powers having access to your data and online activity, particularly when international intelligence-sharing agreements can allow nations to bypass their own privacy protection laws. The right VPN helps to protect your privacy.
"Good Advice" is what matters! The VPN market has become cloudy and can be confusing. There are numerous solutions available. Some... by their very location may actually threaten your privacy.
At Teksynergy we are constantly watching the market and keeping abreast of new privacy risks and the best VPN solution providers able to best mitigate risk.
So if privacy matters and you wish to take advantage of the benefits a VPN provides, give us a call and we will point you in the right direction.