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For privacy and security, get a VPN for your phone

Here at CREDO, protecting our members’ privacy rights is a top priority. We’ve fought the government in court to protect our members’ privacy rights and worked to repeal spying programs like the Patriot Act.

There are also steps you can take to protect your own privacy on your devices. A virtual private network is a way to connect your PC, tablet or smartphone to a remote server and browse the internet using that server’s internet connection. 

It’s a good idea for two reasons:

  1. Privacy: a VPN hides your real IP address behind the remote server’s IP address and prevents the monitoring or tracking of your activity while you’re online.
  2. Security: a VPN encrypts all the traffic between your device and the server, which gives you protection against hackers.

In the past, VPNs were mostly installed on home computers and laptops. Now, though, people access the internet more often on their smartphone than their PC and there are dozens of companies offering VPNs for your phone.

They’re easy to use:Just download and install. Then, before you access the internet, tap the app. From that point forward, all your internet activity may be hidden and encrypted, whether you’re using a browser like Google Chrome or an internet-connected app like Facebook. You’ll notice little – if any – difference in your phone’s performance. Texting and calling will not be affected.

Here’s CNET’s list of top mobile VPNs. And here’s a list from Popular Science (scroll down to find it).

Look for a mobile VPN that offers high speed, strong encryption and a no-logging policy – which means the VPN does not store information about what you do online. It’s a good idea to choose a VPN that charges a subscription (most are around $10 a month) because these services cost money to operate – and if you’re not paying, then there is a chance that the VPN supports itself by selling your data. Plus, free VPNs tend to be slower and less reliable. You can also read about some VPN recommendations on our previous blog post 3 Ways to Boost Your Privacy on an Android Phone.

There are two reasons why a VPN on your phone is a good idea: privacy and security.

A VPN protects your privacy

A VPN prevents your internet service provider and/or advertisers from watching everything you do online. So, no monitoring, tracking or ad targeting.

You can also be sure that your internet activity is not being tracked and recorded by the shadowy, unregulated data brokers that are now ubiquitous.

Your ISP knows a lot about you, especially since Congress and Donald Trump stripped the internet of privacy rules in March 2017. Here’s what privacy advocate Electronic Frontier Foundation had to say at the time. “Putting the interests of internet providers over internet users, Congress today voted to erase landmark broadband privacy protections. [ISPs] will have free rein to hijack your searches, sell your data and hammer you with unwanted advertisements. Worse yet, consumers will now have to pay a privacy tax by relying on VPNs to safeguard their information. That is a poor substitute for legal protections.”

So, if you’d like data brokers and your ISP to know less about you, use a VPN when you go online.

A VPN protects your security

Everyone likes free public WiFi – at the airport, the cafe, the hotel lobby. Hackers like it too, because data that travels via a public WiFi connection is often unencrypted, unsecured and easy to steal.

There is the man-in-the-middle attack, in which a hacker intercepts information – like your username and password – that travels between you and whatever websites you visit. There is the rogue hotspot, which poses as a legitimate hotspot with a similar name like “Airport WiFi,” and collects your data or plants spyware on your device.

A VPN protects your personal information when you use public WiFi. It encrypts all your data traffic to and from the VPN server and can block access by hackers.

For more tips on protecting your data when you use public WiFi, read our post 6 ways to protect your privacy on public WiFi.