There’s a lot to love about virtual private networks (VPNs), a concept that involves direct links between devices and private servers. When this system is installed, data transmitted to the internet derives from the VPN and not the device in question. This clever tactic shields sensitive information from prying eyes. It’s particularly useful for those who regularly utilize public Wi-Fi or other potentially problematic connections.
VPNs may help users bypass a variety of security issues, but they aren’t inherently risk-free. In fact, some expose users to the very dangers they intend to avoid in the first place. Therefore, careful selection is crucial. The right VPN can provide powerful protection, and the wrong one can lead to everything from data leaks to stolen bandwidth.
Why Are Free VPNs Risky?
The temptation to download a free VPN can be strong. These networks claim to protect data while also offering a myriad of other benefits, including access to geographically restricted content. With so much offered for free, it’s no wonder users are eager to take advantage of such options.
Unfortunately, the saying “you get what you pay for” applies to many free VPNs. A few reputable options exist free of charge, but many may place you at a significant risk. These services allow users to avoid sign-up and subscription fees, but payment may arrive in other, less ideal forms.
Many free VPN services harvest user data or sell information to third parties. Sensor Tower, for example, has attracted its fair share of criticism for encouraging users to download files that provide access to their browsing data without their express consent.
Malware installation is also unfortunately common among free VPN users. Alarming results from a study conducted by CSIRO suggest that over one-third of free VPN apps for Android devices come accompanied by unwanted malware. While this malware typically leads to email spam and targeted ads, stolen credit card information is also possible when installing shady VPNs – as are ransomware attacks. Hence, the need for due diligence.
How Can I Choose the Best Possible VPN?
VPN selection will depend on the purpose of the connection and who intends to use it. On a personal level, a few free or low-cost VPNs can get the job done. For enterprise functions, however, a powerful business VPN is well worth the investment.
Cost is just one of several factors worth examining when choosing a VPN for your business. Beyond this, you’ll want to think carefully about the specific type of VPN you intend to install.
Top options include:
- Consumer VPNs – When most people think of VPNs, they picture consumer services designed to provide network access for individual users. Free VPNs almost always fall into this category. Many consumer VPNs, however, involve paid subscriptions, and some are nearly as powerful as enterprise options.
- Fixed VPNs – Typically furnished through an internet service provider (ISP) or network provider, fixed VPNs are often used to link branches with corporate locations. They offer excellent security but are not as flexible as other types of VPNs.
- Remote-Access VPNs – Similar in many respects to consumer VPNs, remote-access networks provide a convenient means of connection for an increasingly mobile workforce. This approach works well for businesses with remote employees. It’s also effective when employees are on the go and require secure access via laptops or smartphones.
While classification warrants careful consideration, it alone won’t determine whether a particular VPN is right for your business. Consumer VPNs are notorious for their vast differences in quality, but the same is true of fixed and remote-access VPNs.
Varying needs among businesses complicate the selection process. For many, this important decision comes down to the following key factors:
- Ease of use
- Data encryption
- Malware protection
- Number of connections
- Geographic availability
- Access to the cloud
The best VPN for your business will meet your priorities while providing a secure and reliable network. Ultimately, the simple act of researching and implementing a reputable business VPN will make the greatest difference. Beyond that, selection largely comes down to personal preference. If you struggle to make a decision, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from a local computer service provider.
NerdsToGo: Your Source for IT Support
If you need computer support, look no further than NerdsToGo. Our certified Nerds take pride in their ability to help residents and businesses resolve a variety of tech concerns. We can assist you in setting up a secure network to keep a variety of top risks at bay.
Proactive measures are best, of course, but we’re also happy to assist in the event of a breach or other security issue. Once we’ve addressed your immediate concerns with computer repair we can help you take the steps necessary to avoid future problems. To get started, contact the NerdsToGo team at your earliest convenience.