VPNs are not a secret by now, but they’re rarely mentioned when discussing mobile phone security. Isn’t it strange then, that we’re more concerned about our safety when browsing on a computer, when in fact, we tend to use our mobile’s the most when browsing. Around half of online sales are made via mobile phone, and the majority of social media browsing is done remotely too. With so much valuable information on our phones, we need to learn how to protect it.
The NSA-Snowden scandal a few years ago exposed what we already suspected – the government is listening in on you. They have access to your mic, they can access your GPS and so on. There are a number of ways to keep privacy on a mobile, but it’s very hard. One thing you can do is use a VPN. This runs in the background of the phone, meaning everything internet related on your phone passes through this. This ensures your data is encrypted, and is less traceable back to you. Regardless of your views on privacy, or the NSA, it’s a matter of fact that the more encryption the better.
Let’s not pretend that a VPN usage alone suddenly makes you the online Banksy, but it certainly helps. You can still be intercepted, but it just makes online activities and patterns harder to trace back to you. Of course, a high-steaks operation would pick this apart easily, but mass surveillance becomes a little less intense this way.
Of course, you can’t just use any old VPN – some hardly encrypt at all. In fact, some will become the source of your privacy worries by spying in on you. It’s important to browse VPN service comparison and choose a reputable one that emphasises security.
The above is all the more important for a mobile phone than a PC, because this is where most of us perform the bulk of our online activities.
Access to restricted sources
Many services and websites are geographically locked, and this is something you can usually overcome with a VPN. A VPN will make it seem although you’re appearing from an IP address in whichever country you want.
So, if you need to access a Russian website that has, let’s say, important academic papers for your college project, you can simply select Switzerland or somewhere with equally laissez-faire internet laws to access the page.
The same goes for streaming services and watching terrestrial TV abroad. And in some extreme circumstances such as a brief holiday to China, you would need a VPN in order to access social media.
One thing you do on a mobile that you don’t on a desktop PC is connect to public Wi-Fi. Sometimes your mobile will even be connecting to them without you realising because you once did it three years ago. This puts you at a ton of risk. All of your credit card data, Google passwords and so on are so easily accessed on your mobile. Using a public WiFi can easily become compromised, as they have no encryption.
So, regarding the aforementioned encryption – it’s no longer a service for tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists, it’s paramount to mobile phone security encryption. For example, there are many VPNs for Android that focus on encryption, though it’s always recommended to read the terms and conditions.
Working remotely and corporate benefits
VPNs are hugely popular with businesses for a number of reasons. One huge reason is that we are increasingly working from home, or at the very least, communicating with work colleagues from our mobile phones. But what if you have to send a confidential document and access the company’s online drive?
In that case, you need a secure connection and a VPN is the way to access it. This gives huge security benefits to the company as leaks will be less likely.
Bonding VPN services also allow you to use multiple internet connections at once to get more bandwidth and less latency. It sounds complicated, but what this really means is that you’re far less likely to stutter and lose connection during a conference meeting or Skype phone call.
Thus, the small fee of less than a hundred bucks per year could see your company improve its communication and security – which is a no brainer.
We all know what the VPN benefits are, but we neglect their mobile application. Yet, we are arguably more exposed with our mobiles than we are on PC, so choosing the right VPN is uber important. In fact, choosing a VPN is even more important when you know you could be exposed even more if you make a poor choice.
Always read the privacy terms of your VPN, because they may sell your data as anonymous packages to 3rd parties. But even more important than that, ensure it’s reputable and safe.