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The safety of your data is in your own hands

Learn how you protect your personal and business data online by using a virtual private network (VPN) to keep your data private
Editorial team

/ Last updated on 30th October 2017

A man on his phone while walking accessing applications that store his personal data

When you think of phone theft, you might think of someone physically stealing your mobile. However, with our whole lives now saved to our phones, we should be more concerned with identity hackers stealing our personal information, not just the phone itself. While it might feel secure to use a Wi-Fi hotspot in a café, there is always a possibility your private information has been hacked into, and this is very often way more valuable than your wallet or keys.

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Our phones have become an extension of ourselves, almost like having an extra limb. A Norton report from 2013 shows that 1 in 3 smartphone users have experienced cybercrime. So how do we stay as safe as possible when using our phones?

There are a few simple tips to staying safe online, like updating the mobile software regularly or installing anti- virus software, but the most obvious tip would be to stay away from public Wi-Fi. If you’re always on the move, this can be tricky to avoid at times, and this is where a VPN (Virtual Private Network) can come in handy. Ideal for remote working, VPN’s are the online version of computer firewalls, allowing a secure connection on a public network. Whether you’re using your computer, phone or tablet, information running to and from your VPN server is securely encrypted. This means you can surf at will in a public area without risk of your data being hacked into.

How do you setup a VPN?

All iPhones are now encrypted automatically, whereas Android phones are not. You can set up a VPN for free on your android within your Wi-Fi phone settings, but most experts suggest going for paid services over free solutions for complete security. These services are available for iPhones and Androids, and there are Apps like Express VPN that guide you through the process of setting up a server on your phone.

If you think locking your screen will prevent any data from being stolen, think again. Although this is a good start, it doesn’t stop most tech-savvy fraudsters from gaining access to your data.

Other benefits of a VPN (aside from security) include being able to watch live TV or catch up when travelling abroad. Some people purchase one to simply unblock Netflix or other streaming websites. Basically, it will make it seem like you’re in a different country allowing you to watch sites you might not otherwise have access to. However, this will only work if you choose the right server location.

Choosing a VPN

There are a lot of VPN providers around, and before you entrust them with your precious information, it’s a good idea to do your homework first. So, what should you look out for when choosing the right solution for your mobile?

This all depends on what you’re using it for. Pricing for starters is important, most providers offer monthly subscriptions and shopping around will help you get the best deal. However, there are more significant features to look out for like server location, encryption protocols, and any data or bandwidth limitations. What you’ll be using your VPN for, will determine what you need from these features. For example, protocols vary in security, so if you’re using it to unblock a streaming website then a ‘PPTP’ protocol is sufficient. But if you were going to be sharing files and accessing data then you should be looking for a provider that supports an OpenVPN. A list of the top providers for Android can be found on BestVPN.com.

Some say that checking a provider’s privacy policy is the most important factor when deciding on the right product to buy. A provider that logs all your information defeats the object of getting a VPN in the first place. A service that isn’t required by law to log your browsing or data is the one to pick if you’re using it for highly confidential data transfers and to keep your data safe.

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