Protecting Your Privacy
Since 2019, the Federal Government’s Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has been reporting on an ongoing cyber-attack from a sophisticated foreign operator that is still in progress at the time of writing this article. The hackers aren’t just targeting big businesses and government organisations. Individuals and small businesses are particularly at risk due to having fewer cybersecurity measures in place, making them easier targets. That’s why so many businesses and individuals in Australia have decided to use a VPN to encrypt their data when online. In fact, in 2020 there has been a 23% uptick in VPN use.
What is a VPN anyway?
If you’re concerned about your personal or business cybersecurity, you need to know about VPNs. If you already know what they are, you can skip ahead to the list. A VPN is a Virtual Private Network that allows you to securely connect with another network over the internet. It connects your smart device or computer to another computer or server somewhere else in the world. Your internet activity and browsing occurs through that computer’s internet connection. All of the data between your computer and the server computer is encrypted. If your server computer is in another country, all of your activity will appear to be emanating from that country, not your own.
How does having a VPN help me?
- Encrypts your activity and data
- Increases privacy, protects you from sticky beaks
- May allow you to access geo-blocked sites
- Protects you from untrustworthy Wi-Fi hotspots
- Allows for anonymous Internet activity
- Can circumvent internet service provider connection-monitoring
They’re particularly useful for business travelers who may wish to securely access their local networks without directly exposing their IP to the internet. This is extremely important on public Wi-Fi which is prone to being hacked into by anyone wanting to snoop into your browsing activity. When you connect your VPN in these scenarios, anyone snooping will only see one piece of browsing activity – that you are connected to a VPN.
Top 9 Things to Look for When Choosing a VPN
Nobody likes a slow connection, so make sure your VPN provides high-speed uploads and downloads from the locations you’re most likely to connect.
Look for VPNs that don’t keep logs of your browsing activity, ones with sound anonymity policies, reliable encryption, and protection mechanisms like IP and DNS hiding and kill switches.
This one is important to users who are interested in accessing geo-blocked websites. If you’re worried about the legalities of this, don’t! Even the Australian government has recommended we use VPNs to access geo-blocked content such as US Netflix!
Very important for business travelers. While your VPN might work fine in your country of origin, if you’re always on the road, it’s important to check your VPN can provide the same level of service in the countries you’re most likely to visit.
Business owners looking to implement a VPN across the company will find the more user-friendly the app, the better. Some VPNs are really well set up for ease of use for even the more inexperienced technology users in your team.
Some VPNs are available to use and install across multiple devices – smart phone, desktop, laptop and tablet. Others operate from the modem out, so all connected devices including your IoT devices are automatically covered.
Unlimited bandwidth is ideal, especially if you’re uploading and downloading a lot of large files as part of your day-to-day operations. Some VPNs try to punish P2P (Peer to Peer) file sharing in an effort to stop piracy, so they engage in something called bandwidth throttling which is where they drastically slow your internet connection speed down (see point 1).
Free tech’ support should be included and easy to access. Be sure to use a provider that makes it easy to contact them.
There are wide ranges of prices available for VPNs and plenty of options out there to choose from so once you make a list of which of the above points matters to you most, look for a provider that can give them to you for the most reasonable price.