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Why you should use a VPN on Mac and iOS – and how

Why you should use a VPN on Mac and iOS – and how

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Posted on August 6, 2015 by Derek Irwin

We firmly believe that if you want to stay safe online, you should use more than one layer of security. Antivirus for Mac, for example, protects you from malware, but it doesn’t hide your digital fingerprints. As long as your internet use can be associated with your unique IP address, this information can be used to track you. This is why some people choose a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect a device or computer to the Internet.

There are many ways to maintain privacy online, and we previously outlined some steps you can take to hide your digital life from others. If your goal is to avoid being tracked online, then you should definitely consider using a reliable VPN when accessing the Internet.

Although there are many VPN options, if you are on the road and want to avoid the dangers of public Wi-Fi hotspots that can enable “man-in-the-middle” attacks, you can use a VPN on a router to protect your mobile devices on the go. But most VPNs are subscription services, which we’ll cover in this article, and don’t require buying a new router.

There is nothing illegal about using a VPN to access online content – if you stay within the limits of what content you are allowed to access and from – and VPNs can provide a powerful additional security measure in your battle to protect your data. Today we’ll explain how VPNs work, and what you can do to set up a VPN with iOS and Mac OS X.

How does a VPN work?

VPNs involve accessing a server operated by a provider over an encrypted connection. VPNs offer a number of distinct benefits, including the following:

  • Privacy: Because the connection between your device and the VPN server is encrypted, no one can see the data going through this “tunnel”. Your VPN provider can see your data (since it’s at the end of the tunnel), but effective providers go to great lengths to distance themselves from knowing anything about their customers and their online activities; They keep little or no logs, use shared IP addresses so that individual users cannot be identified and use other measures.
  • Hide your IP address: All your internet traffic will appear to originate from the IP address of the VPN server rather than your IP address.
  • Site spoofing: Because your IP address appears to be the address of the VPN server you are connecting to, and because most VPN providers offer servers in many different countries, it is easier to access global information and content with a VPN.
  • Secure access to public Wi-Fi hotspots: All data between your device and the VPN server is encrypted, so even if you connect to a fake or hacked public Wi-Fi hotspot, your data is safe.

What do you need to use a VPN?

There are different methods used to connect to a VPN server, known as “protocols”. Among these protocols, OpenVPN is the most secure, followed by IPSec (either L2TP or IKEv2) and PPTP. However, OpenVPN per se is not technically the protocol, it is open source software that implements its own protocol and is incredibly secure. IPSec and PPTP are physical protocols built into iOS and OS X, and can be configured manually in the operating system settings, while OpenVPN requires additional software.

Many VPN service providers have dedicated OpenVPN clients for OS X which makes the setup process very easy. However, for iPhone and iPad, while iOS VPN apps can be easily downloaded from the App Store, these apps all use IPSec and PPTP. However, there are general open source apps available for both iOS and OS X that allow to configure OpenVPN manually.

In addition to a VPN app (this is not required if L2TP or PPTP is manually configured), you may need a subscription to a VPN service, which usually costs between $5 and $10 per month. Cheaper and free VPN services are available, although care must be taken with these if it is not clear how organizations fund their expensive operations.

Finding the Right VPN Service Provider

Choosing to use a VPN is a popular decision these days, but finding the right service can be a bit tricky. There are many VPN service providers to choose from; Here are some of the best options:

Although there are quite a few options, there are also many factors to consider when deciding which VPN service provider is right for you. In terms of features and services, what sets a VPN service apart from another?

There are many things that can characterize VPN services: price, speed, locations, additional services (DNS proxy, socks5, http proxy), and of course privacy (if they log user activity). As you can see, the most effective VPN solution will vary depending on your specific needs.

Is Free VPN Safe to Use?

If price is a concern for you, you might be interested in “free” VPN services. The idea of ​​getting anything for free can be tempting, but think carefully when it comes to protecting your privacy. Running a VPN service costs a lot of money; You need to pay for servers, bandwidth, pay your employees, and more. Therefore, if a VPN service claims to be “free,” you would be wise to be very skeptical; Chances are, if you’re not paying for it, then you’re the product – in other words, the company might use and sell your data.

Related articles:

When free it means “collects your browser history”

Now, we move on to the practical items for setting up a VPN. In the examples below – first with iOS, then with Mac OS X – we’ll explain the setup steps for accessing a VPN service provider using the OpenVPN app.

How to use your VPN with iPhone or iPad

For maximum compatibility and features, your best bet is to download and install a VPN app designed for your chosen VPN service. Our three VPN service recommendations above include apps in the App Store (for iOS and iPadOS) and available via their websites (for macOS and other platforms):

After installing the app, open the app and follow the instructions to start using the VPN on your device.

How to use your VPN with your Mac

Just as with the setup on mobile, to maximize the compatibility and features of using your VPN with your Mac, your best bet is to download and install the app designed for your chosen VPN service. All of the recommended VPN services mentioned above have apps available via their websites for macOS (as well as Windows, Android, and other platforms):

Once the app is installed, you will then get a new menu in the bar at the top of your screen, from which you can activate or deactivate the VPN or change your settings.

What if your VPN service doesn’t have its own app?

Most commercial consumer VPN solutions have their own applications. It is generally best to use the application provided by the VPN company whenever possible, to maximize compatibility, support, and server options.

But the company you work for probably runs its own VPN, and it doesn’t officially support Apple devices. Then what can you do? I’ve got you covered. Here are our instructions on how to use OpenVPN apps on your iOS/iPadOS devices or on your Mac.

How to manually configure VPN on iOS

If your favorite VPN service does not have its own app for Apple mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch), you can download the OpenVPN Connect app from the iOS App Store and set it up as follows.

1. The VPN provider will provide you with OpenVPN configuration files (.ovpn). Follow his instructions on how to find it, then download it to your device.

2. Once downloaded, select the .ovpn profile you want (usually named after the location of the servers they point to) and select Open in “OpenVPN”

3. Click the + icon to import the new profile configuration

4. Enter the username (in this example: User ID) and the password your VPN provider gave you, then make sure the secure slider is turned on.

5. Press the call slider to call…

7. And voila! Your iOS device is now connected to the VPN server. Simply swipe the connection slider to the left to disconnect once you are done using the service.

8. Additional profiles for alternate sites can be imported (repeat steps 3-4 for each profile). Then select a profile by clicking the arrow to the left Profile personly In the main window and choose a profile.

Click OpenVPN at the top once you’ve selected a profile to go back to the main screen.

How to manually configure VPN on macOS

If your favorite VPN provider does not have its own Mac app, you can follow the steps below to set up the OpenVPN client.

1. Download, install and open the OpenVPN client installer for Mac (the instructions below are for OpenVPN Connect, but another popular OpenVPN client for Mac OS X is Tunnelblick).

2. Install OpenVPN Connect (follow the guided steps in the installer).

3. Your VPN provider will provide you with OpenVPN configuration files (.ovpn). Follow his instructions on how to find it, then download it to your Mac.

4. Now that OpenVPN Connect is installed, you will see an orange icon with an “X” in the menu bar. Click on it and choose Import > from a local file.

Once this is done, you will see a notification telling you, “Connection saved. Repeat this step to import more profiles.

5. Click the OpenVPN Connect icon in the menu bar, select the VPN profile you wish to use, then click Connection…

6. Agree to any warning messages about allowing a VPN connection, and enter your username and password (given to you by the VPN provider) in the OpenVPN login dialog, before pressing Connection.

And ta-da! You are now connected to a VPN service (a bubble notification will alert you to this).

To disconnect, click the OpenVPN Connect icon in the menu bar, which opens the OpenVPN menu, then click Disconnect > the profile you are connected to (for example) Disconnect >

Stay invisible my friends…

A great tool for improving your internet security, VPNs are a knife of the Swiss army to protect your privacy by allowing you to geo-spoof your location. OpenVPN is the most commonly used secure VPN protocol, and while setting it up can be a little more difficult than simply using a provider’s custom software or manually configuring L2TP or PPTP, it is highly recommended (this is a particular issue with iOS, where OpenVPN is not integrated with in custom applications).

Conclusion: Use a VPN to stay invisible on the Internet!

Where can I find out more?

Check out episode 15 of the Intego Mac Podcast, where Intego experts discuss why you should use a VPN to protect your online privacy. Be sure to Follow the podcast To make sure you don’t miss any episodes.

You can also subscribe to Intego’s email newsletter And watch it here Mac Security Blog For the latest Apple security and privacy news. And don’t forget to follow Intego on your favorite social media channels:

This entry was posted in How To, Recommended, Software & Apps and tagged iOS, iPad, iPhone, Mac, OpenVPN, OS X, Virtual Private Network, VPN. Save the permalink.
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