A VPN is an awesomely useful internet tool. We recently witnessed some of its benefits in Uganda where the government had switched off the internet, a move they said was in retaliation against USA tech Giants Facebook. Ugandans resorted to using VPNs to access social media, making it a must-have tool in heavily censored countries. If you are not familiar with VPNs, here is everything you need to know.
What is a VPN?
VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network” which is an online service that allows you to protect your internet connection, your private searches and most importantly your identity. It is a must-have for those who wish to safeguard sensitive contents like bank information and passwords on the internet, especially on public Wi-Fi connections which are more prone to hacking.
How does it work?
A VPN works by routing your internet connection through a chosen private saver rather than your internet service provider (ISP) eg Econet so that when your data is transmitted to the internet, it comes from the VPN rather than your device, therefore, hiding your IP address and concealing your identity. A VPN also encrypts your vital data. Encryption protects your information with a very strong password known as a key and because only your device and your VPN server know your key, no one else can decrypt your data.
- Privacy – Because a VPN encrypts your data, your private activities remain private whether you are using the internet as at the home, office or over a free public Wi-Fi eg Zolspot. You are always anonymous as and no one can see what you do online.
- Security – A VPN helps you to protect your personal information and other data because you will be operating anonymously and secure. Some VPNs even claim to use military-grade encryption, which means military-grade security for you.
- Online freedom – a VPN allows you to change your IP address and makes you appear as if you are in a different country. This allows you to access blocked content, websites and apps as witnessed in Uganda. People were able to access Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram etc, even though they were blocked.
- Slow connection – a VPN keeps your connection secure however internet speeds of most VPNs are very slow, especially the free ones. So for higher speeds, it is best to use recommended and paid for VPNs such as hotspot shield and Nord VPN.
- Sudden disconnection – Even using the best, VPNs disconnect from time to time giving you the inconvenience of having to reconnect. The disconnection does not happen as often with good VPNs.
- Connection Difficulties – If you are new to VPN and do not know how to operate It, the tunnelling process might turn out to be a task for you. However, there are more user-friendly VPNs such as Cyberghost and Tunnelbear VPN.
Now that you know about the internet security tool, here are the top-recommended VPNs. Nord VPN, Express VPN, Cyberghost VPN, Surfshark VPN and private internet access VPN.