A virtual private network, better known as a VPN, offers essential protection for surfing the Internet. No one who accesses the Internet from an Android device should be without one. This article gives you five important reasons why.
Have you ever lingered at Starbucks or McDonalds or Tim Hortons just to use their Wi-Fi? Did you see something you wanted to buy so you entered your credit card information?
Do you take advantage of public Internet access on your daily commute or buy and sell stocks on your brokerage accounts while you are waiting at the airport?
If your answer to any of these questions is yes, you need something called a virtual private network, better known as a VPN. The best Android VPN can protect your Android device from the dangers of using a public network.
What can go wrong when you tap into a public Wi-Fi hotspot?
When you are using your bank cards, or you are sending a sensitive email, or you are just doing something on the Internet that you don’t want the whole world to know about, you need to access the Internet on your Android device through a VPN.
Your subscription to a VPN service gives you a “data tunnel” for sending and receiving information and for accessing websites. It protects your information from hacking, and it gives you access to websites that may be restricted by local authorities or by company restrictions. If you are using your Android device in a location where certain email services are blocked, you can access them through your VPN. If you want to watch your favorite streaming entertainment from a location not serviced by your provider, you can catch your shows with your VPN.
How does your VPN’s encrypted data tunnel work for you?
The VPN masks your Android device’s IP address and location. Masking your IP address protects you from the prying eyes of government authorities. Masking your location enables you to access sites that may be geographically restricted. Masking your IP address makes it very difficult to trace your Internet activity or to steal your private information.
VPNs don’t just protect outgoing data. They also give you greater access to incoming data. Some streaming services, such as Netflix, severely limit choices for entertainment outside the United States. Accessing Netflix through a server in some Middle Eastern countries, for example, reduces the number of programs you can choose by about 90 percent. Logging into your Netflix account through your VPN, which gives you the advantage of connecting through an acceptable IP address, restores your ability to use your device for streaming just like at home.
On the same principle, VPNs can also help you access email services that certain countries ban.
But those are just two of the things a VPN can do for you. Here are three more.
Once hackers are into your computer system, they can grab any files that your computer uses. They can install software that empowers them to access your computer remotely even when you are on a secured network. Hackers can use your computer to hack the computers of everyone with whom you exchange email and people you contact on social media.
VPNs protect your Android device even when you are not getting security updates. Google is no longer sending out security updates for Android operating systems older than Version 8.0. A study for the UK consumer watchdog group Which? has found that a large percentage of Android devices worldwide, over one billion Android phones and tablets, are among those that have no protection against new security threats.
Which experts took a random sample of Android phones and tablets into their labs for testing. The devices they tested were not necessarily old. Just not the latest model. They were still available for sale on Amazon and other websites. They tested Android devices made by LG/Google, Samsung, Motorola, and Sony. They found that the 42.1 percent of devices using Google 6.0 or older operating systems were vulnerable to hacks resulting in theft of personal information, large bills for services the owner of the device did not receive, and complete takeovers of the devices.
Android phones and devices that have only recently gone out-of-service for Google security updates are not necessarily hacked right away, but Which? warns that the risk of hacking goes up exponentially the longer the phone is operated without a VPN.
And for one more reason every Android owner should use a VPN, consider this: Every Android device is connected to the Internet 24 hours a day.
Let’s review the reasons Android owners need a VPN:
- A VPN gives you a virtual IP address for your device.
- A VPN masks the location of your Android device.
- A VPN prevents the malicious takeover of your Android device.
- A VPN protects your Android device when security updates are not available, and
- A VPN protects your Android device 24/7.
We have just two words of caution regarding VPNs. Avoid free VPN services that require you to submit sensitive information, such as your Social Security number, to get the service.
And if you use broadband, consider using a VPN with a “split tunneling” feature, like Surfshark. Split tunnels allow you to choose to access some sites without going through an encrypted data tunnel for a faster connection. But with the best paid VPN service, you get all the benefits of having VPN while keeping all of your personal information safe.