Did you know that your VPN usage can be even more secure? In this article, I'll be explaining the quick fixes and tricks that will enable you to ramp up your security with zero technical known-how.
We all know how useful VPNs can be when it comes to unblocking foreign content, bypassing censorship or protecting our privacy.
These are some of the main reasons why you and I are using VPNs today. However, it is essential to remember that although they'll secure your online privacy out of the box, there are some additional features to turn that security up to max.
As such, they are packed with features that often get overlooked.
In other words, people still tend to forget to enable individual options of their VPN apps. Below are our Top 5 features you should enable. By enabling these features, you can achieve even greater online security.
1. Enable a Kill Switch
The first on our list is a Kill Switch sometimes known as a ‘Network Lock'.
A feature that you can enable to ensure that you won't end up entirely exposed. This protects you while you are browsing the web in case something happens to your VPN connection.
Kill Switches are handy, as they monitor the VPN client's performance. If they notice that the VPN connection has disconnected, they can instantly cut your connection to the internet.
That way, the websites you are visiting won't record your real data or even the fact that you visited their website. Information such as your location will remain hidden from them, and your online privacy will still be secured.
Enabling a kill switch is very easy, too. All you need to do is launch your VPN app and look for it in the settings. Not all VPN services have it, though, but most good-quality VPNs do.
You'll find the kill switch regardless of operating system although you're less likely to see it on mobile VPN apps.
2. Enable DNS leak protection
Next, we have DNS leak protection, which is another great feature that can prevent your data from being exposed.
DNS leak protection is beneficial as it prevents your online traffic from leaking. This stops it going to your internet service provider's (ISP's) servers, instead of going directly to the VPN server, as it should.
This can often happen, unfortunately, which is why you must only use VPNs that offer this feature. When you type in the name of a website, it looks this up in a vast database, usually via your internet company.
This can lead to the names of the websites you're visiting being exposed.
This alone may not sound of great concern, but do you want anyone knowing you're visiting a Sexual Health website, a Pornographic adult website or any other which can be given away by their name alone?
It comes as an extra layer of protection, and it will protect you from unknowingly exposing yourself to your ISP. This feature is also easy to enable by flipping a switch in the settings of most decent VPN apps.
3. Turn up the encryption
VPNs have strong encryption, and they even offer unbreakable types.
However, encrypting your data often comes at a cost, and that cost includes lower download speeds. This is why many apps that use different encryption tend to use weaker encryption, or at least to enable the lower or medium ones by default.
You are still protected, but you get better speeds.
Of course, this means that you are not as safe as you could be even though your data is going via an encrypted tunnel, meaning that you are still taking some unnecessary risks.
But, here's the thing – good Virtual Private Network services will provide you with high speeds AND allow you to use top encryption, such as 256-bit AES encryption.
This is true for all VPNs, and especially true if you're using desktop and laptop versions. You might feel a speed impact on mobile devices, but it is still worth being adequately protected.
4. Use double-hop servers where possible
You may have heard of the feature of some VPNs, called double-hop.
This is a feature that sends your traffic through two different servers, usually located in two different countries. Not a lot of VPNs have it, and if you want it, services like NordVPN and VPN.ac are some of that few that offer it.
The purpose of sending your traffic through two different servers is also relatively self-explanatory: you get better protection and greater anonymity.
It's like using a VPN while using a VPN, adding an extra layer of protection. At the same time, your connection goes through two different jurisdictions, which would allow you to avoid the 5/9/14 Eyes Surveillance Alliance, which is always hungry for data.
It is certainly a feature worth enabling, even though it is likely to have an impact on your speed. But, as a VPN user, you should know that speed should never come at the cost of security.
5. Enable IPv6 leak protection
Our final suggestion is that you enable your IPv6 leak protection.
Similarly to how your online traffic data can leak, even though you are using a VPN – so can your real IP address.
You hide your IP when using a VPN, and replace it with the ones tied to specific servers, located around the world. This is what gives you pseudo-anonymity and allows you to bypass censorship and geo-restrictions.
However, VPNs can still malfunction, and somethings can go wrong. If it comes to that, your real IP address – containing details of your identity and location can leak and reveal who and where you are.
By using IPv6 leak protection, you can prevent it and stay more anonymous and completely secure.
Using a VPN requires a little work from your side as well. The VPN will do everything, but you must take proper precautions and enable all the security features that the service offers to truly protect your network connection.
While many VPN apps work out of the box, there are instances where they could fail, leaving you exposed without knowing. Thankfully most offer additional features to protect against this.
It is not worth risking it when you can easily prevent such problems by merely flipping a few switches in the VPN settings.
Of course, you might have to sacrifice a bit of speed to have all the necessary protections on, but it is well worth it to reach a higher level of online privacy.