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Preventing Unwanted Intrusions to Your Mobile Devices

Preventing Unwanted Intrusions to Your Mobile Devices

What do your smartphone, tablet, or wearable devices say about you? Are you aware of the fact that you are carrying sensitive data wherever you go, all the time? Do you have an idea of how much data your mobile carrier captures? Whether the data is in the form of text messages containing bank account information, private messages to your significant other, or calls referencing sensitive information, your mobile carrier has access to every detail.

And that’s not all. Consider the information you unknowingly sending out to anyone outside of your phone carrier. If hackers breach your data carrier’s server, what will they find in it? Most probably, they can gain essential information such as your current whereabouts, social security numbers, physical address, banking information, etc. The problem is that unless you’ve already prepared yourself for a data breach, your personal information is just there for the taking.

Major companies protect laptops and desktop computers from cyber-attacks by investing massive amounts of resources in antivirus programs. However, while doing so, they forget that handheld devices are totally unprotected. As cyber criminals have become highly experienced at hacking mobile devices, the need for mobile security has also grown with time. For the same reason, mobile security apps, such as a free VPN app, have gained popularity in the recent time, ensuring complete privacy of your identity.

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Who Can Access Your Mobile Details?

To prevent unwanted intrusions into your mobile devices, you must first know who poses the biggest threat to your security. Firstly, cyber criminals are the biggest threat when it comes to mobile security. They try to send you viruses and Trojans with the sole purpose of stealing your data or gaining control of your mobile device. Once that happens, they can hack into your bank account to steal money, block your phone, and ask for ransom or gain unwanted access to your personal life.

Secondly, government officials can access your mobile device without getting your permission. If you don’t believe it happens, just ask Edward Snowden – who exposed the National Security Agency in a tell-all exposé. Keep your eyes open for NSA surveillance specialists. You might not be able to spot them, but always double-check the camera of your phone or tablet when you are located in remote places. Remember, big brother is always watching.

Advertisers are another category of people who might be able to access your mobile privacy. Though it isn’t legal, they still find ways around it. Now the question arises, how they go about it? They access your mobile devices and turn on your Bluetooth or data connection in order to make you accept offers and special deals.

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Lastly, even a family member or your ex might try to use spying software to see what you’re doing behind closed doors.

Do Mobile Apps Make You Vulnerable?

You bet. All apps collect personal data. The moment you install an app, you are asked to click “Continue”. Most apps find out your exact location, and some can even control certain features of your smartphone, tablet or smartwatch, such as camera, calendar, flashlight or alarm. The biggest threat is posed by apps that can access banking details. If not properly secured, cybercriminals may gain access and steal your most sensitive information.

How to Protect Your Mobile Device

Just because mobile devices are not as secure as we once thought they were, it certainly does not mean that you can’t take some proactive steps to make it harder for the third parties to gain access your devices. Here are a few steps that can help your device stay protected from unwanted intrusions:

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  • Set a screen lock pattern or password. While your phone lock may not be a 100% failsafe security measure, you’d be surprised at how much more secure it is than an unlocked phone. Therefore, if you carry an unlocked phone, do yourself a favor and start locking your phone when it’s not in use.
  • Turn off GPS. Avoid the temptation to leave your GPS on indefinitely. In fact, whenever you aren’t using your GPS, it’s best to turn it off. The same goes for mobile apps that ask you to ‘opt-in’ by turning your location tracker on. Unless you really need it, sometimes it’s best to just leave the GPS off.
  • Stop AutoSaving Your Passwords. Do not save your passwords automatically. You’re better safe than sorry, and even if it takes a little bit longer to type your passcodes – it is more than worth it.
  • Perform Regular Backups. Do not wait for your computer’s ‘AutoSave’ function to kick in. Instead, just start taking backup of your data at regular intervals.
  • Stay Up to Date. Update all of your software, especially your antivirus profile. Do this across all devices. Otherwise, you’re just making it far too easy for unwanted intruders to access your personal information.

Another tactic you may want to consider adopting is using mobile security apps. For example, if you want to ensure that your identity remains private, downloading a free VPN app might be the most practical solution.

Additional Considerations

If you think that your smartphone is the only mobile device that’s vulnerable to snoopers or cyber attackers, think again! Your tablets and wearables, including smartwatches and fitness trackers also represent prime targets for government agencies, advertisers, hackers, or anyone wishing to get their eyes on your private life. In fact, recently, there have been increasing reports of insurance companies mining the social media and fitness activity of policy holders and claimants.

I hope this article has not only opened your eyes to the risks of leaving your mobile devices unprotected. Furthermore, if you haven’t done so already, please use this as an opportunity to put these tips for a better cause.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels.com via pexels.com

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Published on September 25, 2020

10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

When it comes to digital security, public Wi-Fi networks aren’t safe enough, making it much easier for hackers to access your personal data. Whether you are studying in a library or scrolling through Facebook in a coffeehouse, it is vital to have a VPN installed on your device.

VPNs work wonders when it comes to securing your internet connection. By creating an encrypted tunnel between a remote server run by the VPN service, they protect your personal data from prying eyes. There is a variety of VPNs available on the web, and we have collated a list of the best VPNs that stand out from the rest.

How to Choose a VPN

  • Free trial period – Free trials allow you to try the product risk-free. The same idea technically applies to those with 30-day full refunds as well.
  • Speed – You want your VPN to be just as fast as the internet speed at home. Good quality VPNs are ones where you see little difference between those speeds.
  • Device connection – Of course, the more devices that can connect to VPNs, the better. It increases the customers’ coverage and the product’s value. You also want to consider compatibility since fewer VPNs may work for Mac or Windows only.
  • Number of servers – The number of servers determines how much capacity a VPN can handle while you are connected. The more servers there are, the more users it can handle without running into potential disconnections or slow speeds.
  • Kill switch feature – Having this feature means that your IP address isn’t exposed if the VPN disconnects for some reason. A lack of this feature is a big deal since the whole reason why you’re paying for a VPN is to hide your IP address, among other things. (Find out how to avoid getting tracked online here: Big Brother Is Watching You Online: How To Avoid Being Tracked)

Why You Should Trust Us

Our hand-picked VPNs are incredibly efficient and offer such distinctive features that grant you safe browsing. They outperform many VPNs in terms of both speed and security. Their primary aim is to provide you the utmost security, thus enabling you to surf the web safely and prevent any potential threat from causing harm.

Among the best VPNs’ many unique features include split tunneling, strict logging policies, high encryption level, and availability of international servers. We have gathered them in this article to enlighten our readers and offer the best pieces of advice before you get one. Therefore, take our word for it, and if you go for a VPN mentioned below, you’d be fully appeased.

1. NordVPN

The most popular VPN on the market these days is NordVPN, and it’s easy to see why. It has widespread coverage, offering a selection of over 5,000 servers spanning across 59 countries.[1] Due to the high number of servers, its speed is similar to your Wi-Fi at home.

Lifehack’s CEO, Leon, has been using NordVPN for many years and wants to recommend it for its remarkable server count in different locations with no-logs policy. The VPN perfectly works with Netflix and Fire TV stick, too.

NordVPN is also compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux. You can download the app onto Chrome, Firefox, Android, and Mac OS. Thanks to its massive coverage, it’s easy to connect multiple devices onto these servers.

In terms of pricing, while NordVPN doesn’t have a free trial period, they argue that their plans are considerably cheaper than those of their competitors. For example, a one-year plan for ExpressVPN costs $8.32 per month, but NordVPN only charges $6.99 monthly.

NordVPN has a new protocol called NordLynx that is based on WireGuard with speed benefits, though it’s still under development.[2] If you’re looking for general quality and affordability, this is one of the best VPNs around.

Buy this VPN.

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2. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is the second-best option out there for keeping your privacy while browsing the internet. Like many other VPNs here, they will encrypt your IP address, offer vast coverage, and can have multiple devices connected to their servers.

Compared to NordVPN, while the pricing point is higher, ExpressVPN’s biggest selling point is the number of countries that their connection covers. Depending on where you are in the world, this may be the only option you have. They have fewer servers — 160, to be precise — but they make up for the low server count by covering 94 countries.[3]

Cost-wise, your best bet is to go with the yearly plan where they charge $8.32 a month. They also have one- and six-month plans.

Buy this VPN.

3. Surf Shark

With regards to Surf Shark, you can connect multiple devices to its servers, and it’s compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac. It is also available on Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and FireTV.

Furthermore, Surf Shark can whitelist apps and sites, letting them bypass the VPN. This, along with the lines of split-tunneling, is another feature that many VPNs offer. The difference is that Surf Shark allows you to whitelist specific apps or any website, while most VPNs will whitelist all sites or none at all.

The other consideration for this app is the price. While lower-tier plans are more expensive compared to others, Surf Shark’s 24-month plan is priced at $2.69 a month, so it’s cheaper than even NordVPN’s equivalent plan!

Buy this VPN.

4. CyberGhost

Another top-reviewed VPN is CyberGhost. They’ve been around for 15 years and have fine-tuned their offers and features to stay competitive. They provide the standard package of browsing the web and logging into accounts safely and give you access to regionally blocked content.

The network also maintains security from hackers, malware, and phishing. Aside from that, you can connect multiple devices, and it’s compatible with all kinds of platforms.

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What separates CyberGhost from the others is their extensive coverage. They have multiple servers, and the pricing point is still very low. It covers over 88 countries and has roughly 6200 servers for you to choose from, all while charging $2.75 for their 18-month plan.

Buy this VPN.

5. IPVanish

IPVanish’s prime purpose is to give users online freedom by providing fast speeds and private connections. It’s clear that they can meet that promise as they provide many of the features that have been listed previously from their competitors.

IPVanish is a part of SugarSync now. What is that, you may ask? It’s a cloud-based service that syncs files across devices and computers for sharing, backup, and many more. What this means is that other devices can access various files and videos so long as they are connected to your specific VPN. Furthermore, it can serve as a backup plan if you get hacked or lose your device for some reason.

Buy this VPN.

6. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a remarkably generous company in many ways. Aside from the obvious features, they offer great incentives and discounts for people to try out their products. They claim to be the most trustworthy and reliable VPN around, and we believe that.

One notable thing is that PIA offers a free two-month trial. Compared to other VPNs to this point, none have provided free trials (though all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee). On top of that, small businesses can avail of their VPN at a discounted rate. There is also the fact that their pricing plans go as low as $2.69 a month for two years, and they let you pay with gift cards.

In terms of specs, PIA has over 2695 servers that cover 47 countries right now.

These particular aspects make PIA unique and one of the best VPNs to consider.

Buy this VPN.

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7. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield is all about offering protection while you’re browsing the internet or using streaming services like Netflix. The encryption is military-grade, and its speed is ultra-fast. In truth, it is even marketed as one of the fastest VPNs.

Hotspot Shield offers a plan that only costs  $7.99 a month; however, it’s one of the few in this list to provide its services for free. Like other Freemium apps, the free version comes with limited features. That said, it gives you a much better feel for the VPN.

Also, take note that the encryption feature is still there, though the limitations in the free plan include connecting to one location in the US and having limited streaming options and speed.

Buy this VPN.

8. TunnelBear

As unusual as a name choice for an online security protection service can be, TunnelBear is nothing short of incredible. It makes our list of the best VPNs for various reasons.

The biggest one is that the company goes through a yearly security audit. This is notable because many VPNs don’t bother about independent audits to ensure their systems are secure and safe from any issues. This is critical as VPNs have gotten some bad reputation over the years, as TunnelBear has noted in their post about their security audit.[4] The fact that they are doing this annually ensures that nothing is being compromised.

Furthermore, TunnelBear offers limited services for free, but even their paid plans are pretty cheap. For individuals, you’re merely paying $3.33 per month. The only catch is that you can connect five devices regardless of which paid plan you pick.

Buy this VPN.

9. Norton

Norton has been on the security scene for some time, and it’s actually one of the founders of the internet security industry. It started with virus and malware protection in 1991 and has since branched off to other sectors as the industry has shifted.

As you might expect from a company that’s been around for a long time, Norton provides excellent services, and a few of their other services have gone into the VPN package. In reality, Norton is the only one thus far to offer a password manager with their VPN services. They provide 50GB of cloud storage as well.

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Norton has one of the cheapest VPNs, considering you can get their deluxe plan at $49.99 per year. That comes up to roughly $4.17 a month. It might be slightly higher than other equivalent plans, but you get a lot of extra value that makes it worth the price.

Buy this VPN.

10. StrongVPN

The final VPN we want to cover is StrongVPN. Like many others, it’s great at blocking unnecessary web traffic and providing a fast and simple solution to navigating the internet without any hindrance.

StrongVPN has over 900 servers. It is available in more than 30 countries and compatible with all devices. Beyond that, the only notable selling point it has compared to others is that it also offers Sugarsync services and 250GB of storage, irrespective of your chosen plan.

As for the pricing, their year-long plan costs $5.83 a month, while their month-long one is $10.

Buy this VPN.

Bottom Line

Getting online protection is important these days, and companies recognize this.

With more hacks and breaches occurring every single day, the best VPNs can provide an excellent haven for many people who value their security and privacy.

We hope that by putting together this list, you’ll be able to find the best VPN that you can trust and enjoy using. As you can see, there are several great options with no real wrong one out there. Pick the VPN that’s best for you.

Featured photo credit: Petter Lagson via unsplash.com

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