Last Updated on July 10, 2019 by Husain Parvez
The Benefits of VPN Explained
No matter what device you log on from, whether it’s Windows, Android or iOS, each internet session poses risk. Today, hacking is rampant. Social engineers are constantly devising new ways to obtain your sensitive data.
A good anti-virus may spot ransomware and infected files, but your protection is still incomplete. Despite the availability of incognito mode in Chrome, for instance, the feature will do nothing to protect your data. Here is why VPN is a reasonable solution to add the missing layer on protection.
Once you access the web, your device is assigned a unique IP address. It may be detected and tracked by hackers, who can see the contents of all your internet sessions. A virtual private network will encrypt your connection so that third-parties are unable to see it. For example, consider Kodi VPN and its many useful features. VPNs may be free or paid, and they may be installed on computers and mobile devices.
Choose an IP address from a different city, country, or even continent – it is now impossible for an outsider to identify your actual location. Your data is protected, and you may now access websites that restrict access based on geography.
For instance, a VPN is the only way to watch streaming video from a geoblocked location. You may recall an instance when you couldn’t access your favorite TV series while on vacation. For example, it is impossible to access HBO without a U.S.-based IP. However, there are many more additional uses.
The danger of public wi-fi
Accessing free wi-fi networks is tempting. However, what you think is a legit airport hotspot may actually be an impostor. Through such networks, hackers receive a gateway to sensitive data stored on your device. Luckily, a VPN will prevent such malicious third parties from causing any damage.
In general, accessing any free wifi networks renders your device vulnerable to attacks due to a lack of encryption. This explains why a VPN is effective in most cases, in addition to other necessary precautions. It will scramble your personal data, which makes in unreadable without the correct decryption key. Here are four ways hackers may try to harm you via a public Wi-Fi point:
During attacks of this kind, a third party interferes in communication between two participants. Hence, the data shared between them is accessed by the cybercriminal. As public Wi-Fi connections often use no encryption, it is relatively easy for malicious users to exploit them this way.Fortunately, a VPN will provide the encryption you need to stay safe.
An affected router could collect large amounts of personal data. For instance, getting into your electronic mailbox will give access to your passwords, logins, private messages, etc. Here, the worst consequences ensue if you use online banking or have ever shared any payment details via email.
- Packet sniffing
A VPN is particularly effective against this type of attacks. The method allows cybercriminals to obtain transmitted data and analyze it at their own speed. they will do so using the software, such as the free Wireshark. A program is a useful tool for analyzing web traffic.
Ironically, Wireshark is normally used to spot vulnerabilities and cybercriminals. However, it gives hackers abundant data to sift through, which includes passwords. Get a strong VPN encryption and only enter details on HTTPS websites.
This method also relies on packet sniffing, but obtained data is used on-location. Although hackers will not obtain your passwords directly, they may do so using malware. As a result, they get plenty of sensitive data.
When you enter website log in details, they must be transmitted to be verified based on the information kept by the site. The site will then respond by sending cookies to your device. This is when a lack of encryption may enable hackers to access your private accounts by hijacking the session. As hackers will circumvent lower degrees of encryption, a reliable VPN should keep you safe.
- Fake Wi-Fi Connections
Similar to MITM, this type of attacks is called Rogue Access Point. Here, your data is intercepted in transit. Any security blocks which a public Wi-Fi could have been successfully eliminated. The name “Evil Twin” points to similarities in network names.
In an episode of the Doctor WhoTV series, characters dealt with the consequences of connecting to a wrong router that had been manipulated. In the story, this link them to an alien intelligence, which is naturally fictional. In real life, however, this will pass your sensitive private information to hackers, making you a victim of cybercrime.
The way it works is that criminals create a fake access point (AP) masquerading as a genuine hotspot. This can be done using any internet-connected device, including a smartphone. As a result, any data transmitted through such network ends up in the hands of its creators. To spot a fake network, pay special attention to hotspots with identical or similar names.
Spotting a fake Wi-Fi network
A fake Wi-Fi network will look like a duplicate of a genuine one, and it could also use the same security features. To attract victims, its signal could overpower that of the legit hotspot. This means that the fake point is either close to you physically, or hackers have performed a Denial of Service attack. Here are a few red flags:
- If you enter the wrong password, but the connection is still successful, the network is fake.
- A very slow network connection could mean that a hacker is using mobile internet for the hotspot.
- Look out for fake domains. If the address bar on your banking website suddenly shows HTTP instead of HTTPS, you are in trouble. Using a method known as SSL Stripping, a criminal will see all passwords or details you enter. Unfortunately, as you are entering information on the hackers’ own website, there is nothing to protect you.
Home Wi-Fi routers
A 2015 trial connected with wi-fi hacking shocked Japan, as it was the nation’s first case of this nature. The dangers revealed caused security experts to urge people to protect home Wi-Fi routers. Such networks may be hacked by criminals who eavesdrop on the wireless signal, even from an adjacent apartment.
The suspect was accused of stealing ¥16 million. He was said to have obtained online banking passwords and IDs. The damage was exacerbated by computer viruses sent to the victims’ computers for the sake of gaining unauthorized remote access.
What makes matters with cybercrime even worse is that hackers can mask their identities, causing innocent people to become suspects. As perpetrators are often identified by IP addresses, there are many negative consequences.
What to do
Detecting if a network has been hijacked is no easy task. It is essential to protect your home wireless hotspot with a password, but it is hardly sufficient. Ensure it uses a newer form of encryption – the fresher, the harder it is to crack. if your router’s default encryption setting is Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), you need to change it right away. Wi-Fi Protected Access II, or WPA2, is a far better choice.
However, your security measures will be incomplete without a VPN. In the case in question, the subject used software that came as a free gift to break the encryption. A connection encrypted with a VPN may not be hacked into.
We often hear about identity theft and credit card fraud online. When you share your payment details with a website, you should be sure it will not be leaked anywhere. Nobody wants to lose their hard-earned cash, so it is best to take all possible precautions. Remember to turn on your VPN when making any money transfers on the go as well.
Luckily, popular e-commerce providers like eBay, Amazon, or PayPal, add their own encryption techniques. One of the signs of a credible site is the secured “https” instead of the usual “http” in its URL. Here, that extra “S” stands for “Secure”, ensuring a level of encryption. You could also install special plugins, such as HTTPS Everywhere, which force browsers into defaulting to encrypted transmissions whenever possible. SSL/TSL certificatesare a way to check any website’s credentials. Any warnings concerning authenticity must be taken seriously.
Even such players as Kodi are best used with a VPN. At first glance, it is simply a media player – i.e., an empty shell. However, there are hidden dangers. First, as an open-source platform, it is linked to general security considerations. If you stream clearly pirated or suspicious content, you may be in trouble. Secondly, any third-party add-ons may be malicious.
Today, Netflix is the king of streaming video. Here is what a good VPN can offer with regard to its library:
- unblocking the service;
- allowing users to watch content for lengthy periods with no errors or buffering;
- enabling speed sufficient for streaming in HD format;
- having several apps suitable for different devices.
Here, the benefits are the same. ABC is watched in Australia, BBC in the UK, and CBS in the USA. All these broadcasters will only let you stream the content if your IP is based in their countries. A VPN will unblock all their multimedia treasures.
A VPN may speed up your connection for a more pleasant gaming experience. Sometimes, your internet service provider will slow down online game traffic. In addition, such popular games as World Of Warcraft use the BitTorrent protocol for issuing of updates and patches. It consumes a lot of bandwidth and is often throttled by ISPs. However, using a VPN here may be a double-edged sword. Sometimes, it will render you more latent, which could reduce the speed.
No matter what you download, be it a pirated movie or a legal piece of software, you put yourself at risk. As a result. you may find yourself added to a super surveillance list for NSA, GCHQ, BPI, etc. For example, the Motion Picture Association of America wants to monitor all downloads to guarantee that none of their content is shared illegally. For this purpose, they may pose as another regular P2P user sharing files. Alternatively, they could snoop around your Internet Service Provider in order to collect evidence for a case against you.
When it comes to torrents, all security measures except for VPNs only provide a false sense of protection. Such programs as PeerBlock will block IPs from connecting to your network, and critics argue that they block peers, thus harming P2P file sharing in general.
As a business owner, you may want to expand your operations overseas and conduct a bit of online research. But what should you enter in the search engine bar? The results you will see will be tailored to your physical location. This presents one of the uses of VPN. With a US-based VPN, for example, you will see exactly the same results as an American will get once they google your type of services. From there, you will identify the most visible competitors.
Another advantage of VPNs is that they mask your true IP when you browse competitors’ websites. Otherwise, a site owner may see where the traffic comes from and identify you by IP. If they find your website, they could explore and copy your techniques and valuable ideas.
You may think VPNs would be entirely irrelevant in a quest for romance. It may seem suspicious that a love seeker will hide their actual location. However, dating platforms have a number of privacy-related issues. Scammers are apt at exploiting dating sites to obtain personal data. You could be exposed to malware-laced pop-ups or impostors.
- Context ads
As a VPN encrypts every session, you will no longer see those nasty dating apps pop up on your social media pages. Such sponsored context ads are displayed based on your browsing history, which is determined based on the IP. If such advertisements appear on your screen at work, co-workers could spot them as well.
Dating sites are often hacked. In 2015, countless users of Ashley Madison, mostly married men looking for affairs, were blackmailed by hackers. Even if you invent an alias and use an email address registered for dating only, a hacker may still identify you by IP.
- Accessing blocked websites
In some countries, dating sites are blocked by governments. For example, it is well-known that residents of China and India are preventing from accessing Western websites. Such measures are taken in order to keep their internet activities under strict control and pursue protect policies.
However, in the West, dating sites may also be blocked – you may not access them from your workplace due to employer’s restrictions. In any case, a VPN is simply indispensable here. It will conceal your actual IP address, thereby making it look like you are in a different country. As the session will be encrypted, not only will you gain access, it is also much safer.
An effective VPN will not only encrypt your session. It will thereby open access instantly.
You may not admit it publicly, but there is hardly a user who has never been to a porn site. Whether it’s traditional porn, VR or webcamming, such platforms are notorious sources of viruses, malware, and other dangers. Here, the use of VPN is two-fold. On the one hand, it is a necessary addition to your anti-virus and anti-malware software. On the other hand, it unblocks smut collections for users in geo-restricted zones, such as India.
Choosing a VPN
Make sure your VPN encrypts data securely. Look for AES or Advanced Encryption Standard. The first publicly accessible and open cipher, it is approved by the National Security Agency (NSA) as a standard of protection at a “Top Secret” level. The most desirable encryption is marked AES-256.
Today, the choice of VPNs is abundant, and different price tags provide different features. Aim for those programs that do not consume too much bandwidth, as connection speeds may deteriorate while the VPN is on. The best programs follow rigid no-logs policies, so you can be sure your online history does not get stored.
You may find lists of VPNs most suitable for your operating system, and tailored to certain kinds of websites. Such information is even be found on Reddit. Some of the services favored by users include NordVPN, TorGuard, Mullvad, and Proton VPN. The latter is free and therefore fairly limited in its features.
Free or paid?
In general, free VPNs are best avoided. They may profit from leaking your data to third parties. Paid services rarely charge a lot, and offer good value for money. Their product is usually far superior. Like anywhere else, what is free is rarely good.
Be sure to check user feedback and expert reviews to choose the most suitable service. As hackers are getting increasingly skillful, we should protect our computers and mobile devices. It is better to be safe than sorry!