If you live in the US you probably heard yesterday that your online privacy is pretty much dead.
Congress voted by the smallest margins to back the Senate and revoke proposed FCC privacy regulations that would have kept your online privacy intact.
All that stands in the way of this becoming law is President Donald Trump and with him 99.9% likely to back the Senate and Congress if you’re a US citizen you can kiss your online privacy goodbye.
In a flurry of social media activity and news postings, the term “VPN” became big news and cropped up everywhere from Wired to USA Today.
But what is a VPN?
If you haven’t heard of the term “VPN” then you’re probably a little baffled by what it is and really how this is going to pull back the online privacy that you just lost.
A VPN is a service that creates a secure connection to a third party and in this secure connection everything that passes through it is unreadable.
This is called encryption – it keeps your data safe.
Your data is encrypted on your computer, tablet, phone or other device and sent via this secure connection.
When using a VPN it is impossible for your ISP to monitor what websites you visit, who you talk to, what videos you watch or anything else you do while connected.
It is for this very reason that a VPN can in most part bring back the privacy that has just been lost.
How do I use a VPN?
For you, as a user, a VPN is a small piece of software that you download to your desktop or laptop or even an app for your mobile devices such as your tablet or phone.
You are then able to connect to a “server”. This can either be located in the United States or for further privacy, outside the United States – although depending on the distance it could make your internet connection slower so staying as local as possible is best for speed.
Most commercial VPN providers such as IPVanish offer software and apps for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices and after selecting a server it’s simply a case of hitting Connect.
The software or app will then make connection, all you need to do is minimise the software or head back to your device home screen and leaving it running in the background.
How can I trust a VPN company?
There have been a lot of questions of “how can I trust a VPN service?” in the last few days and it’s a very good question.
The first thing you want to do is avoid “Free” VPN services. As you don’t pay for them, they have to generate revenue somehow for the service to exist.
One way they’re likely to do this is to sell your information. Which is probably worse that letting your ISP sell your information.
So you need to pay for a VPN service, but still, how can you trust them?
When you pay a company to carry out a service you’re essentially employing them to do a job. It is in their interest to supply that service because if they didn’t then you would soon see a flood of negative reviews and that’s their business over.
Just as you would pay an anti-virus company to ensure viruses or trojans don’t attack your computer, you pay a VPN company for the sole purpose of protecting your privacy. By not supplying the service they claim to, they would be breaking countless consumer laws by false advertising.
Where to get a VPN from?
There are thousands of VPN companies to choose from even when you disregard the “free” ones.
A good place to start is our VPN Comparison Guide but if you want to check out a few of our top recommend providers then the following 5 are a good place to start.
A VPN may certainly not be perfect and it’s up to you to remember to use it but currently it’s one of the best ways to stop your ISP monitoring what you do online and selling that important data on.