You may be aware that with the introduction of the Investigatory Powers Bill, which you may also know as the ‘Snoopers Charter’, that your Internet privacy is at risk. One of the solutions to the act, and to keep your usage private, is to use a VPN.
Broadband Compare UK has put together this handy guide to VPN services, what they are, and how you can get one and ensure that your browsing history is yours and yours only. Read our guide below for more.
The acronym ‘VPN’ stands for Virtual Private Network. When you access the internet via the usual channels, your computer sends a request for information via your router. This, in turn, is fed through your broadband provider’s server, and on to the website you are attempting to access. This means that your broadband provider can access all the information that is passed through their servers, including your internet browsing history.
When you use a VPN, this process is changed around somewhat. It encrypts all of the data that you send and receive, so while your provider can see that you are sending a request for information to a website, that data is encrypted so that they won’t know the contents of the request.
The data will be sent to the VPN supplier’s server rather than straight to the website. At this point, the data is decrypted by the VPN supplier, sent to the website, and then is encrypted again when the website sends information back to you.
Sending information via VPN is a common practice amongst companies and individuals who need to keep sensitive data private. If information is intercepted, or their servers are hacked, then their data is secure as it has been encrypted by their VPN supplier.
There is nothing wrong with utilising a VPN and doing so is perfectly legal. As long as your VPN complies with UK law, then you are good to go. As mentioned, a lot of companies use a VPN to keep data safe – they wouldn’t be able to do this if it was illegal.
So, the answer to that question is no, it is not illegal to operate a VPN. You are perfectly within your rights to use one.
A VPN service is a perfect solution if you are worried about privacy, hackers, or the surveillance powers of the IPA.
So, if you don’t want anyone nosing at your browser history (even if you have nothing to hide), or your send data that a hacker might be able to use to their advantage, or you regularly send leaked information to Julian Assange, then you may wish to consider a VPN.
However, there are some situations in which we certainly wouldn’t recommend using a VPN. If you are using it to hide illegal activities, then you definitely shouldn’t be using one. If you are doing something illegal, then you are doing something illegal, and that is the end of the matter. Not only are you at risk of being caught, but you also risk having your computer hacked anyway, regardless of using a VPN.
If you have a poorly performing internet connection, then using a VPN can slow it down further. If you find that you are in this situation, and you have a slow network, then we would recommend signing up for a faster service, or simply not using a VPN.
So, now that you understand what a VPN service involves, you may want to sign up for one. This normally involves a monthly subscription of some sort, so just go to the VPN supplier that you wish to use and sign up for their service. Easy!
Once you have signed up, you will be asked to install the VPN software on your computer. This is the part that allows you to encrypt your data, and keep it private. You can also choose what part of the world in which you appear to be located. This can be useful if you want to access the American version of Netflix (providing your VPN isn't blocked). Once the software is installed, you’re connected via VPN to the internet.
The cost of a VPN service is usually pretty low. You will normally pay around £5 a month, which is a low fee to pay when you consider that your information is all kept private. You can also pay by several methods - Bitcoin, credit card, and direct debit are all accepted forms of payment, along with a lot of other methods.
For further guidance on choosing a good VPN service, then check out PC Advisor’s site for more information, as they will be able to give you information on what kinds of features your VPN service offers.