Why you should use a VPN on your Android device?

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The days of people accessing the internet solely by desktop or laptop computers are consigned firmly to history. So it makes sense that whatever device you use to check your email, dating app, or Facebook feed is adequately protected against internet nasties.

Tough cyber-security in the workplace, especially amongst bigger organizations, is a given for most people. So if you log in to your company’s network, you’re unlikely to check your personal email or social media from your workplace device. Consequently, most people don’t know or care that they are already protected by a workplace VPN in the office.

This may not be the case for smaller businesses with up to 50 employees, perhaps a small manufacturing company with two or three laptops in a Portakabin office in the corner of a factory floor. These are the targets cyber-criminals love because those laptops are full of financial information. Still, the manager and accounts clerks are unlikely to be computer savvy regarding cyber security. To add to the risk for employees, people are likely to use their Google devices or iPhones to check their messages during break times, using the factory guest Wi-Fi. That’s when an Android VPN becomes essential.

Whether at work, in the street using 4G, or in their own homes on Wi-Fi, people use phones nowadays to access the internet for all reasons. A 2021 survey by a leading US broadband provider found that 56% of all internet traffic is accessed via mobile devices. In the case of using social media, over 80% of visits to these platforms are by Android or iPhones.

So, you can see why a VPN is essential on your Android device to avoid being hacked with malware or your passwords compromised. And it doesn’t matter what version or new release of Android you’re using because nothing is ever 100% hacker-proof, but using a VPN usually makes the hackers go away and find an easier target than you!

How to install an Android VPN

There are two ways to set up a VPN on an Android device; either system-wide, using the core settings of the phone or tablet’s operating system, or as a third-party application.

If setting up the VPN system-wide, you’ll find the process a bit more complicated than ‘bolting-on’ the VPN to the device as an app.

In the Android settings, you’ll need to enter the configuration details of your chosen VPN, such as the required server address, username, password from your VPN account, etc. This might be tricky and cause internal conflicts between settings, say, your Bing browser and your Outlook mail client, especially if you like using Windows apps on Android devices.

So the simplest method is to choose a VPN that can be downloaded as an app. Many of these are provided by leading virus protection and established VPN companies. Also, the fact that an app has been sourced from the Google Play store at least means that it will have undergone some quality control, and there will be many reviews, allowing you to judge if the product is fit for purpose.

The app will then find the settings on your device and automatically add the required parameters, IP addresses, and usernames from your VPN account for the app to function.

Sometimes these apps are free and carry adverts, sometimes, you pay a small monthly or annual subscription, and they are advert free. Security updates on paid VPN apps also come as part of the deal.

Using state-of-the-art encryption

The VPN effectively adds a middleman server between you and your internet service provider (ISP), whether your mobile phone 4G data provider or the Wi-Fi connection service you might be using. But for that server to be fully effective, it needs not only to anonymize your presence on the web but also to encrypt your connection so hackers can’t break into the signal. They often do this by using ‘Phantom Hot Spots’ – whereby you think you’re logging onto a shopping mall’s public Wi-Fi. Still, it’s a bad guy with a 4G router and a laptop sitting near you, installing malware or sending phishing content to your device without you knowing it.

There are different types of encryption, from the most basic, called Point-to-Point Tunnelling Protocol (PPTP), which carries 128-bit encryption. Then there’s L2TP (Layer 2 tunneling Protocol) – the next step up, followed by Secure Socket Tunnelling Protocol or SSTP. The most advanced encryption is possibly found via IKEv2 (Internet Key Exchange version 2). That latter is The Daddy of encryption and offers the closest thing to absolute anonymity and unbreakable security.

In summary, unless you want your dating profile hacked, your most private photos uploaded to ‘revenge porn’ sites, and your banking passwords and email potentially compromised, an Android VPN is essential in today’s multi-connected world.

A five-minute visit to the Google Play Store to download an Android VPN app might be the smartest decision you have ever made.