A VPN, or virtual private network, is a great way to keep your online identity anonymous and your data secure. This is especially important when using your smartphone where so much of your personal information is stored.
One way that your information or identity can be accessed is via an insecure open Wi-Fi connection. Since a phone is something you always have on you as you move about, it's a device that will likely connect to a lot of open Wi-Fi networks. From hotel and airport Wi-Fi to coffee shop and bar connections – they're all a potential portal into the darker depths of the internet.
On a lighter note, a VPN can help you gain access to geo-restricted content like U.S. Hulu or Netflix content while abroad.
So why is a VPN important and how can it help on your phone? Let's take a look at the advantages.
A VPN keeps your phone hidden
When you connect to a new Wi-Fi network you're given an IP address that identifies you. From this, information about you can be attained, like your location and even details like your address. If you're on an open Wi-Fi connection potentially malevolent entities can get to that. This is where a VPN comes in and protects you.
A VPN will pass your signal through a set of private servers, dotted about the globe. These then make the request to the website, say, and return the answer to your phone. By acting as a middleman the VPN is able to make you appear to be an IP you are not, in a location you aren't. This effectively keeps your identity and data safe. Most of them allow you to pick the location of the server you connect to as well, giving you even more control of your privacy.
A VPN will secure your data
On top of that, a VPN will use encryption to pass those data messages along without exposing any of the content. This means that only the person with a key, at either end of the transfer, will have access – in this case only you at the receiving end. That means that even if someone were to somehow find a way to intercept that data, it would be unintelligible as they could not decode it without the key.
So a VPN will actually make your internet experience more secure than going online naked without one where your data flows freely for anyone to grab.
Access geo-restricted shows from your favorite streaming services
Since a VPN bounces your signal through international servers, it makes it possible for you to appear somewhere you're not. So if you're looking for a streaming VPN to use while abroad to access your U.S.-only Hulu account, you can do just that.
A VPN will allow you to log into the server in the U.S. so you appear to be on U.S. soil. As such you can log in to your Hulu account as if you were in the U.S. to view all your favorite shows. You can, technically, view other country's shows too, like the UK's BBC iPlayer content, but we're not condoning that here since it's against the service's terms.
Which is the best VPN for my phone?
One of the best all-round VPN services is ExpressVPN. This offers a huge number of international servers, fast connection speeds, secure encryption, a great 24/7 live chat support service, and – crucially – really good clients. These are VPN apps, which work on Android and iPhone and are super easy to use. This will work in the background keeping you secure no matter what Wi-Fi connection you're using.
We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:
1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).
2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad.
We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.
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