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4 Simple Steps To Make Your Internet Life Secure

4 Simple Steps To Make Your Internet Life Secure

Do you often wonder how much privacy you have online? From your emails, chat convos, and backups to running and maintaining a website or a blog, your internet life isn’t exactly 100 percent safe.

Yes, cyber attacks happen all the time.

But you don’t have to get paranoid about that as long as you take some precautionary measures that will save you a lot of trouble. The best thing you can do is to understand the basics of how to avoid exposing yourself and becoming vulnerable, and consider some of the tools that will keep you covered while you’re online.

Let’s look at a few ways of protecting yourself from the digital bad guys.

Why You Should Encrypt Your E-mail

Checking e-mails is the number one task we do online, at least twice a day. We need to communicate, stay in touch and exchange ideas. While setting strong e-mail passwords is always recommended, whether you’re using web-based solutions like Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook, or an e-mail client, this no longer seems to be enough.

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The main reason why you should encrypt your e-mail is to simply keep your data safe from people or organizations that have the means to break into your accounts, steal and reset your passwords and log in as yourself.

Not only can they read your e-mails, but they also pull information about you that should be yours and yours only. Just visualize for a moment the journey of your e-mail messages across different networks that are more or less secure and monitored. Scary, right? You don’t know when Big Brother looks over your shoulder and reads information that should remain private.

If you’re not exactly tech-savvy, there are easy solutions you can implement. Jack Wallen at TechRepublic has put together a list of five free applications you can use to easily encrypt your e-mail.

Keep Your Chat Conversations Between You and Your Counterpart

The same element of privacy goes for your online chat convos too. There are so many options for connecting with people across the globe and even more directions from where you can become a target of internet security breach.

You can encrypt, for instance, your Facebook Chat and Google Talk/Hangout conversations by downloading Pidgin, a trusted instant messaging client.

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Besides that, you might also want to have a look at chat apps that encrypt conversations such as Cryptocat and Chatcrypt, to name just a few.

Keep Your Data Safe with Secure Backups and File Syncing

As far as file syncing and backup options go, Dropbox stands out for being more than just a free file hosting service. It’s the best online backup option. You can sync files between your devices. With the free 2GB storage, you can share large chunks of data. No more attachments and removable media are needed. In addition to that, your stuff will always be safe and can be instantly restored if any of your devices get broken.

Another collaborative tool that syncs files and makes online backups is SugarSync.  You can try it free for 30 days. From individual to business, SygarSync offers you the plan that suits you best. It helps you decide what and where you want to sync, and automatically backs up all your pictures and videos. Also, you can share files in a snap, whether it’s through social media, e-mail or your blog. More important, the Remote Wipe option removes all synced files from your PC or Mac in case of theft or loss, while the data still resides in the cloud.

Last but not least, Mozy offers three types of products: for Personal Use, Enterprise IT and Business. Mozy takes care of your digital information by offering a simple automatic and secure cloud-based online backup service. Backed by EMC, it stores and protects more information for Fortune 500 businesses than any other company. To use it, simply download the software and create an account.

Use a Password Manager to Generate Strong Passwords

Setting a different password for each website you access may reduce the risk of your password being stolen. This can be a hassle as it may be difficult to remember all of them, especially if you work from different computers and, on top of that, use a smartphone and an iPad.

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This is where password managers can help. Simply put, a password manager generates strong, random and unique passwords and remembers them for you.

There are many online password managers available. While there are debates about how safe these are, more and more users would rather keep themselves on the safe side instead of having their social media, online banking and e-mail accounts hacked.

Lastpass is free and offers various features apart from generating a password for a new site. It helps you centralize your data while keeping it safe, back up your files automatically and send login information for shared accounts to friends and family who are also LastPass users. Plus, for $12 per year you can get unlimited mobile access.

Roboform manages all your passwords automatically and connects you to the websites of your choice. It’s fast, secure and intelligent. It works with Internet Explorer, Firefox, AOL/MSN, and many other browsers and fully supports Windows 7.

KeePass offers strong security, doesn’t require installation and the password database can be easily transferred to another computer. What’s even better is that it can be translated in over 30 languages!

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There you go! These are just four easy steps to keep you safe on your online journey.

Over to you:

What other tips can you share that make your internet life secure? Sound off in the comments below.

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Anca Dumitru

Freelance Writer & Content Strategist

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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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