Is your data secure? — VPNs are an option

We use the internet every day. From banking, watching movies or connecting with family and friends. Connecting happens seamlessly, and we often forget that a lot happens in the background while we use the internet.

Data security is important and VPNs ensure our information remains secure in transit and protects our privacy.

VPN is short for Virtual Private Network. It is a set of programmes/services that allow users to connect to the internet securely by encrypting (encoding) data traffic. By doing so, it essentially makes users anonymous online.

Each device that communicates over the internet has an Internet Protocol (IP) addresses (e.g. They are a set of numbers that identifies each device on a network and enables communication between devices. Just as how physical addresses tell people where to find a place, IP addresses tell machines where to send data.

VPNs ensure our information remains secure in transit and protects our privacy.

 When you search for a webpage, your device sends a request through your modem to your Internet Service Provider or ISP (like Flow or Digicel) then out to the internet. The information is sent from a server, back to your ISP so it can get to your computer.

When your request is sent, your IP address is sent along with it. Any server or router that channels your request then knows your IP address.  Your IP address can be used to tell where you are. When the data gets to the website, the server may log your IP address for data analysis purposes.

Don’t use public Wi-Fi for banking or accessing other sensitive data.

A VPN masks your IP address by creating a secure tunnel that encrypts and shields your data from servers, even your own ISP. When data is sent from a device, it goes through the VPN client first, is encrypted and then sent where it needs to go. The website then sees your VPNs IP address instead of yours.

By encrypting your data, a VPN adds an extra level of security. If you’re in a public place using public Wi-Fi, any hacker can sit on their laptop and capture all the data that’s flying around, including your email addresses, passwords and other important information. By using a VPN, your data would be encrypted making the information useless to the hacker.

So, don’t use public Wi-Fi for banking or accessing other sensitive data.

Another reason to consider a VPN is to get access to content that is restricted in your country. Ever tried watching a video and seen the message “Content not available in your country”?

VPNs have the option to choose a server to run your traffic through. By using a VPN, websites would then think you’re browsing from another country.

Some popular VPNs are:

  • Express VPN
    • 30,000 IP addresses
    • 160 server locations in 94 countries
    • Costs $12.95 USD per month or $99.95 annually**
  • Nord VPN
    • 5000+ servers and IP addresses
    • Over 60 server locations
    • Costs $11.95 USD per month or $125.64 USD every three years **
  • Private Internet Access
    • 3000+ servers in 32 countries
    • Costs $6.95 USD per month or $39.95 annually**

** At time of writing