After scandals like Equifax's data breach and the 2016 US election, cybersecurity has become an issue for Americans. Unfortunately, every time we use our devices, we are open to cyber attacks ̵
1; especially when surfing the Internet. But there are ways we can make it harder for hackers and data miners.
The biggest security hole in your smartphone is the data connection – unfortunately any device with permanent internet access is inherently at risk. Although there are no foolproof methods, you can better protect yourself from Russian hackers, Big Data or even a curious spouse with the following suggestions.
Step 1: Get a VPN
Perhaps the best way to improve your internet security while surfing the internet is to use a VPN. A VPN (or Virtual Private Network ) provides two important security features: encryption and privacy.
With the right VPN, all your data is encrypted during transmission. Imagine this: Instead of driving your data in a normal car, you're now driving in an armored truck. It may be slower, but it will be much harder for someone to access it while traveling from your phone to the website you are visiting.
The second feature that a VPN provides is privacy. Your IP address matches your mailing address at home. Much like the post office uses your mailing address to send letters, your IP address is used by your network to move data between your device and the Internet. Without a VPN, it is easy for someone to get the IP address of their device for a direct attack on their smartphone.
VPNs create a secure tunnel between your Android device and the server (or router) that provides the VPN service. This server acts as a buffer between you and the Internet. Imagine, every time you send a letter, give it to the postman who puts the letter in another envelope that identifies the sender as himself. Now, when someone comes across the letter, he thinks he's from Mailman, not you.
VPNs work in the same way. Whenever you send data to the Internet, they are first routed through a secure server before goes online. The traffic is marked as if it came from the VPN server. Now if a packet is intercepted by a malicious entity, it does not have your IP address, but the VPN address.
With FCC's 2017 decision to effectively end net neutrality, data protection is more important than ever. Internet service providers (ISPs) have regained control over all the data that passes through their networks and can do what they think fit.
As history has shown, ISPs will use traffic based on the type of websites you visit or the services you visit. With a VPN, your ISP can not see which sites you visit. Only an encrypted connection between you and your VPN is displayed. Therefore, your ISP can not demote your Netflix movie quality or block your device from a specific service. It also can not effectively record your browsing history for sale to businesses. If your ISP does not block VPN traffic (which is possible), using a VPN is one of the few ways to surf the Internet privately and freely.
There are many excellent VPN services in the Play Store, but my personal favorite is NordVPN. because it offers an excellent balance between safety and speed. NordVPN uses the highest encryption method to protect your data, and has over 2,400 servers in 56 countries, allowing it to maintain high speed.