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How to set up and use a VPN on your mobile phone

How to set up and use a VPN on your mobile phone

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Top 3 reasons to download a VPN on your phone

While there are many reasons why you should use a VPN, here are the top 3:

1. Browse the Internet privately

What you do online is your business, and using a VPN can help you keep it that way by masking an important number called your IP address. Internet service providers and search engines like Google use your phone’s IP address to collect data about your online search habits. Have you ever noticed those creepy ads online showing you the products you have been searching for recently? Yes, this is basically Google spying on you. And with the recent repeal of net neutrality rules in the US, keeping your online data safe from the prying eyes of your ISP may become even more important in the near future.

2. Securing public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi hotspots make it easy to connect from just about anywhere. But unfortunately, the unsecured Starbucks Wi-Fi that you connect to from your iPhone or Android phone also makes it easy for hackers to gain access to your connected device and intercept any sensitive information you share online (passwords, credit card details, etc.). A VPN helps you avoid the dangers of public Wi-Fi networks by encrypting your connection and preventing third parties from seeing what you’re doing on the network. Be careful not to confuse a VPN with a proxy server – while they both mask your IP address, the proxy server does not use encryption, which means your data on the Internet is not protected. Proxies are also used on an application-by-application basis, unlike a VPN, which is applied to all of your internet traffic.

3. Get around content blocks

Depending on where you are – school, work, or abroad – you may find that some sites or online services are blocked by copyright agreements or, in some countries, censorship laws. Since content blocking is imposed based on your IP address, using a VPN can allow you to access content no matter where you are. Want to catch up on your HBO shows while traveling around Europe? No problem with VPN. This is also an example where you can use a proxy server, just don’t forget that your connection will not be encrypted, so use a reputable service.

How do I set up a VPN on my phone?

VPNs come in all shapes and sizes, and while choosing one usually boils down to personal needs and preferences (and of course, whether you use an iPhone or Android), it’s important to understand the pros, cons, and difficulty level of your options.

Easiest way: Download a VPN app

Downloading an app from a VPN provider is the fastest and most convenient way to set up a VPN on your iPhone or Android phone. The apps are also useful because they allow you to set and save your preferences, and configuration is pretty straightforward. But of course, there is a problem. With countless VPN apps available, how do you know which one to choose?

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Here are some things to consider when choosing your VPN provider:

1. Make sure they don’t keep logs

A VPN should keep your network completely private, meaning that the provider should not keep data logs of your online activity. Be sure to check the provider’s terms of service, as you should be able to find their logging policy. A trustworthy VPN provider will state that no logs are kept. However, you should still do some research on your own, as there have been cases of providers lying about keeping records.

2. Prefer paid services

When it comes to VPN apps, you definitely get what you pay for. Many free VPN apps don’t encrypt your connection, which is technically acceptable if you just want to stream content, but not if you’re concerned about security or privacy (which you should be). Nothing is free in this world, and the revenue to support “free” VPNs has to come from somewhere. In many cases, it comes from service providers who log your data online and sell it to third parties for advertising purposes.

3. What protocols do you use?

The protocol your VPN provider uses will determine the reliability, speed, and security of your connection when using their VPN. There are several different types of protocols currently in use for mobile VPNs, from OpenVPN, which offers the highest level of security and performance, to Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), an older protocol known for its high speed, but also for being one of the least secure. .

These instructions can help you choose the right VPN, but if you want to test your VPN, there are also ways you can check if your VPN is secure.

Compromise: Use OpenVPN

As mentioned earlier, OpenVPN is one of the most reliable protocols out there. It is used by many VPN provider applications, such as AVG Secure VPN, due to its high level of security and stability, as well as its ability to bypass firewalls. It is also open source, which means that the source code is easily available for anyone to view and inspect. Although it is not native to any platform, this third-party VPN client software makes it available on both iPhone and Android mobile phones.

Using a VPN app may be less difficult to set up, but if it doesn’t give you the security, features, or power you want, you should consider OpenVPN. It lets you configure your VPN the way you want it so you can customize your settings, improve connectivity, troubleshoot problems, and more. The downside is that you will lose any advanced “extra” features that your current VPN provider gives you. However, as long as your VPN provider supports the OpenVPN protocol, you can use it in the shadows with your existing VPN client and switch between the two as needed.

The Hard Way: Configure VPN Manually

In addition to OpenVPN, there are other protocols available that you can connect to either locally through your device platform or using a VPN client. And if you’re willing to spend the extra time, you can basically use whichever one you want as long as it’s supported by your VPN provider. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of different mobile VPN protocols.

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L2TP / IPSec

Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) cannot provide encrypted VPN protection on its own, which is why it is usually implemented with the Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) authentication suite. Together, L2TP / IPSec is Especially Secure (although there are reports that IPSec has been compromised by the NSA). L2TP / IPSec is a popular mashup protocol due to its compatibility with most devices (especially as an alternative to those that do not support OpenVPN), as well as its fairly easy setup. On the other hand, it may be a little slower than other protocols, and the limited number of ports makes it easy to block.

The acronym for this VPN protocol varies – L2TP, L2TP over IPSec, L2TP / IPSec – but most VPN providers today support L2TP with IPSec encryption. It’s also worth noting that IPSec can be used on its own via one of its many available modes (IKEv2 is the latest version). While L2TP/IPSec and IPSec can be compared from an encryption standpoint, VPN providers often publish their own pre-shared keys (needed to authenticate both sides of a VPN connection) on their websites. So, while IPSec is secure, its implementation often isn’t.

IKEv2 (Internet Key Exchange, version 2)

Similar to L2TP, IKEv2 also requires pairing with IPSec to become a VPN protocol, rather than just a tunneling protocol (however, it is usually just referred to as “IKEv2”). Faster than most other protocol options, IKEv2 is also an exceptionally stable and secure VPN protocol.

Perhaps the most useful and unique feature of IKEv2 is that it can switch between connections (such as from Wi-Fi to your cellular network) without losing a secure VPN connection, making it one of the best options for mobile devices. Unfortunately, it is not as commonly used as L2TP/IPSec because it is not supported on many platforms. If you have an iPhone, you have an advantage, because IKEv2 is natively supported on iOS.

PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol)

Although PPTP can be supported on most platforms and is generally seen as a very fast VPN protocol, we do not recommend using it as it is not secure. It was initially developed by a consortium of vendors founded by Microsoft in 1999 for the purpose of creating a VPN over dial-up networks, and has since been outdated (iOS 10 removed it as a native connection option). So if your VPN provider offers you the option to configure a PPTP connection…don’t do that. Otherwise, you will almost certainly have the NSA in your business.

Pros and Cons of Different VPN Protocols

OpenVPN

Positives

Negatives

L2TP / IPSec

Positives

Negatives

  • May be slower than other protocols

  • poor execution

  • It may be hacked by the NSA

  • Problems getting around restrictive firewalls

IKEv2

Positives

Negatives

  • very safe

  • high speed

  • Native support (Blackberry, Windows, iOS)

  • Can quickly reconnect between networks

  • Easy to set up

How to set up VPN protocols on Android

1. OpenVPN

Configuring OpenVPN for Android is fairly simple. First, you need to check if your VPN provider’s website is to make sure that it supports the OpenVPN protocol (which is very likely). You should then download the necessary OpenVPN configuration files (the settings that show how each connection works), which should also be available on your VPN provider’s website. Keep in mind that these files are usually presented as a ZIP file, and you may need a file manager app to extract them.

Since the VPN client software is necessary to configure the OpenVPN protocol with Android, you will also need to download OpenVPN Connect for Android from Google Play. Once the client software and configuration files have been extracted, you are ready to go. Many VPN providers include helpful tutorials on their sites on how to set up a VPN on Android phones, so use them as a reference if they are available. However, others may only provide the necessary files. In that case, try searching their support pages for any references to OpenVPN or OVPN files, or follow Method 4 for a step-by-step guide on how to configure OpenVPN with Android.

2. L2TP / IPSec

Unlike OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec is natively supported by Android, so you don’t need to install any additional VPN client software. Instead, you just need to locate the list of VPN server IP addresses available to you through your VPN provider, as well as your provider’s pre-shared VPN IPSec key. As noted above, this may be publicly available via the Service Provider’s website; Otherwise, you should be able to access it after logging into your VPN account. Follow your Android setup guide or your provider’s instructions, and you’ll have your L2TP/IPSec configured in no time.

3. IKEv2

Unless you’re using a Blackberry or Windows mobile device, both of which natively support IKEv2, you’ll need to download a third-party client software to set up this VPN protocol. Directly from the Google Play Store, download and install strongSwan VPN Client for Android. Like L2TP/IPSec, you will need to list your VPN provider’s server; Some providers also provide a connection certificate file that you can download.

The general deployment, file format, and keys you’ll need are outlined on the strongSwan website, but the overall configuration is quite similar to L2TP/IPSec. Again, you will need to provide the address of the server you wish to use from your service provider’s server list. Then, you’ll either use your VPN account login credentials for authentication (with the CA certificate field set to “Select automatically”), or you’ll be able to “Import the certificate” using the previously downloaded certificate file.

How to set up VPN protocols on your iPhone

1. OpenVPN

Since OpenVPN is not locally configured for iOS, VPN client software is needed. OpenVPN Connect for iOS is the only client available for configuring OpenVPN, and can be downloaded and installed directly from the Apple App Store.

Fortunately, setting up an iPhone VPN is somewhat…


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