What is a VPN and how does it work?
A VPN is an online connection method employed to increase security and privacy for both home and public Internet networks. Virtual Private Networks were initially used by large corporations to protect sensitive information from being shared or leaked, now personal VPN use is growing in popularity as Internet access becomes an ever-increasing part of our daily lives. By connecting to the Internet via the VPN, user privacy is strengthened because the user’s IP address (your computer’s unique identification number) is replaced with one provided by the VPN, essentially navigating all Internet connections through your providers servers and therefore logged on their IP address, not yours.
VPN’s usually follow a subscriptions based model, meaning the user downloads an app from the provider and signs up for an agreed period of time to use their private network to protect one or more devices. The price will vary between providers but in general, this is a monthly payment which will gradually decrease based upon the length of the subscription period. For the purposes of this guide, we will be using the NordVPN application, which is available from the App Store.
NOTE: By installing a VPN on your iPhone, the user is NOT given free rein to break the law by performing illegal online activities, such as sharing copyrighted material. There are many reasons for using a VPN but a free pass for performing illegal online activities isn’t one of them. Remember, your VPN provider may keep a record of your online activities which may well be shared with the authorities, should they enquire.
Why use a VPN on your iPhone?
1. Secure Wi-Fi Connections
Using public Wi-Fi hotspots is useful for conserving your mobile data, but not every mobile hotspot is safe and secure. By using a VPN, you can ensure that your data won’t fall into the hands of possibly criminal third parties, even on a public connection. The VPN will block direct server access to your iPhone; enabling a connection via the app itself instead, so any attempt to access your personnel data will be completely by-passed as your connection will be encrypted. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
2. Enhanced Privacy and Security
When browsing the Internet using a VPN app, your iPhone’s IP address (Internet Protocol – a resource that identifies from where you’re accessing the Internet) will be replaced. This essentially means that your location will be hidden from any sources wishing to track or exploit your details. This may include hackers, malware, viruses, or groups wishing to monitor your whereabouts and online activity in order to monetise this information for their own gain. Thus, your privacy is protected and security enhanced.
3. Unlock Locational Services
Another potential benefit of using a VPN on your iPhone is the ability, with many Virtual Private Networks, for the user to select the Geographical location of the IP address they are using. There are many benefits to having this ability, for example, if you are on holiday and find yourself unable to access your local news site due to a location blocker; your viewing options are usually nil however, by switching your VPN’s location to that of your home you will be able to view the website as if you were there.
Installing a VPN on your iPhone
Having downloaded and opened the NordVPN from the App Store, you will be given two options: Log In or Sign Up. A first time user will need to click Sign Up to begin the process.
After reading the small print, if you are happy to proceed, tap “Agree” to continue to the next stage. Enter your login details and select a payment plan, then click through to the Log in process.
Choose whether to “Allow” the app to send you notifications and proceed to the main app window. From here, you can view your details and Settings via the top right link.
To add the app to your VPN Configurations, tap the Quick Connect option at the bottom of the screen, now agree to Allow this action to start using the application.
Scroll around the onscreen map to find the desired location with which you want to connect. Tap the map icon and select the exact location, or Quick Connect to use an IP from this country.
The app and your iPhone are using the IP address and location you chose. If you wish to terminate this connection, try a different location or use your original IP, click disconnect.