Your Essential 4 Step Guide to Using a VPN to Secure Your Network
VPNs have seen an increase in profile recently. As online security concerns grow, and users gain more technical knowledge, more and more people are installing and using VPNs.
But what exactly are they? How do you make browsing more secure?
What is a virtual private network and why do you need it?
VPN is a Virtual Private Network. Essentially, it keeps your IP address private by blocking it and redirecting it to another location using an encrypted connection between your device and any websites you go to. The websites will then source your online activity from the VPN’s IP address, rather than your own IP address – keeping your actual information hidden from anyone who might view it.
This makes browsing more private, as well as less vulnerable to anyone who might try to hack you.
VPNs are especially useful if you’re on the go: Many people (rightly) worry about security when it comes to public Wi-Fi and 4G networks, so having a VPN allows you to use the public internet with peace of mind and – more and most importantly It secures any electronic payments you may make.
So how do you set one up and what should you look for when installing a VPN?
1. How to choose a VPN
Choosing a VPN provider can be daunting, as there are so many providers and options – plus a lot of technical talk that it’s hard to understand. But there are some good rules:
- Choose a reputable security provider – one with a solid reputation for trustworthiness and experience in their field. Read reviews, do your research and, if possible, choose a VPN from a company you’ve heard and trust.
- Make sure there are no strict restrictions on bandwidth and internet usage – for example, make sure you can use it for all your activities and not the first 100GB.
- Ensure that the VPN is usable across multiple devices. (The average consumer now has three.) Ideally, you can use the VPN at the same time on your devices.
- Don’t use a VPN without a Kill Switch (more on that later).
Like subscribing to any service, the VPN provider will ask you to choose between commitment and coverage levels. This could mean choosing to cover multiple devices (which we recommend), business or personal use packages, and possibly how long you want to use them for.
Tip: Don’t just go for the cheapest or free option because it’s often not exactly what you’re looking for. Even free software should make money, so think carefully about what the company might do with your data.
2. How to install a VPN
Setting up a VPN is as easy as downloading and installing an app—something you’ve probably done on your iPhone or Android device.
Each device using the VPN will have to download the software separately. On mobile devices, this will be available when you purchase apps – for example through Google Play or the Apple App Store.
Once you purchase one, most VPNs will have a “download” button to receive the product. Once downloaded, you may be asked to “install” the app and then launch it. Many VPNs will turn on automatically every time you use your phone or computer (as long as your subscription continues).
When you activate your VPN, you may be asked to choose an IP address (where you’ll say you’re browsing from) for your online activity.
It’s common for VPNs to have a “lock switch,” which will automatically cancel your Internet connection if the VPN is disconnected — potentially saving you if you accidentally do something you shouldn’t.
3. Turn on your VPN
Once installed, your VPN may require a few administrative steps to set up. On a Mac, it will likely be a .dmg file and you will be prompted to drag it to the Applications folder. On Windows/PC, it’s likely a . exe starts from the start menu. On your mobile device (phone or tablet) it will likely be an app on your home screen.
When you turn on your VPN, you will be given some prompts to activate it and turn it on. Expect fewer steps – or none at all – after you install and use it for the first time.
4. VPN Settings
When it comes to advanced settings, you may have the option of split tunneling. This means choosing what goes through your VPN and what doesn’t. You can use this function if you find that a VPN is slowing down your connection or downloading – so you can choose not to use the VPN on your less vulnerable apps (for example, turn it off for reading on your Kindle, but keep banking and shopping safe on the VPN).
Devices like Chromecast or Airplay (which use Wi-Fi to connect to a TV screen) are not compatible with a VPN, so they may use split tunneling when using them.
You can also choose which country your IP address will be used for (trade it yourself). Just be sure to choose a country with internet laws that match yours – like those in the European Union.
Whatever you plan to do online, a VPN will help keep you safe.
Protect yourself with a VPN
Being online brings inherent risks, so it is always a good idea to be vigilant and prepared. With a little disruption, a VPN is an extra layer of defense. It is another piece of reassurance while browsing, shopping and banking online.
Get your own Norton Secure VPN now to help keep you safe on the Internet.