Have you ever had to walk through a scary area in order to get where you are going? That sense of relief you felt when you arrived is essentially what virtual private networks (VPN) offer to internet users.
VPNs allow you to directly access a private network through public internet channels. Doing so makes it much more difficult for outside users to access your connection and use it for malicious purposes.
What kind of malicious purposes? Well, cyber crime for one thing. More and more businesses are turning to VPNs in order to ward off cybercriminals. That’s hardly a surprise given that an estimated 50% of small-to-midsize businesses reported falling victim to a cyber crime in 2016. VPNs are also useful for traveling employees going to regions hindered by limited and secure internet access.
It’s not just businesses that have come to rely on VPNs. Recent rulings in the United States have U.S. citizens worried about their ISP selling their browsing information to the highest bidder. Even if that wasn’t the case, online identity fraud remains a major concern. In 2016, the number of reported cases involving card not present (CNP) identity theft jumped 40%. In most of these cases, the user’s financial information was stolen online.
Elsewhere, global users are realizing that VPNs allow them to avoid stringent regulations that determine which websites they can and cannot visit. That’s one of the main reasons why the majority of VPN users are found in Asia and Middle-East and an estimated 25% of major market internet users have used a VPN at some point in the last year. Almost 30% of those users utilized a VPN just to access Netflix.
While no VPN can protect you from every possible online threat, there’s very little reason not to make sure you can access one via your iPhone. They’re affordable, versatile, and shockingly easy to use.
Here’s everything you need to know about using a VPN on your iPhone.
How To Set-Up Your Own VPN
This is the hardest way to access a VPN through your iPhone. As such, we only recommend it if you have network administrator privileges on the network you are trying to access.
- Open Settings on your iPhone and tap General.
- Tap VPN on the following screen and then “Add VPN Configuration” on the next.
- Next, you need to tap Type and select the network type. Your options should be IKEv2, IPSec, or L2TP. Again, don’t attempt this part of the process unless you know the exact information of the network you are trying to access.
- After that, enter your Network Description, Server information, and Remote ID. You’ll then need to enter your Network Password and choose whether you wish to automatically connect to this network or manually connect to it.
- Tap Done when you’re finished.
Given that most users won’t have such information available to them when they’re using a public WiFi network, the above method may not be a practical option for anybody. Fortunately, there are many third-party options out there.
How to Access Your VPN
Whether you’re setting up your own network or using a third-party app, you’ll need to be able to access it. Many third-party apps allow you to do this through the app itself, but there is a way to manually access various networks via your iPhone settings.
- Open Settings on your iPhone and then select General followed by VPN
- Here, you will see every VPN that your iPhone recognizes. Simply tap on the one you wish to access and toggle your status to Connected.
- Remember that you’ll need to deactivate your VPN access via this screen or the in-app options when you’re done using it.
Choosing the Best VPN for You
So which third-party services are worth downloading? That depends on a few factors:
- How much online browsing do you plan on using your VPN for? If you just need one as an occasional precaution, you may just need a reputable VPN service’s free option. If you’re going to be using a lot of data – or have multiple devices/users to support – then you’ll need a good premium option.
- How tech-savvy are you? If you can set up your own network blindfolded, then you’ll want to skip past the more “mainstream” options and look into more advanced VPN programs that will allow you total control over your private network.
- Are you going to be using a private network to access other regions of Netflix and protect against potentially harmful downloads? If so, then just know that kind of usage requires a high-end service. Even then, constant policy updates and technological changes mean that your current program might not always work the way you want it to. Always be prepared to switch providers.
Regardless of your needs, these are the three best overall services available on iPhone:
It’s rare we get to describe something as the definitive best in class, but TunnelBear is the best free option out there.
TunnelBear offers you 500MB worth of free browsing every month. That’s not ideal for regular use, but it’s great if you only need to access a private network on occasion. TunnelBear also offers premium options if you wish to upgrade.
Best of all TunnelBear is very easy to use. You just choose tap on the in-app connect option, and you’re set.
NordVPN does offer a free version, but this app’s best features are hidden behind a paywall.
For $11.99 a month (or $68.99 a year) you get unlimited access to the program. That includes access to anti-DDoS servers, a kill switch that can automatically disable your connection, and military-grade encryption for maximum security.
NordVPN offers pretty generous free trial and money-back options, so you can feel pretty secure giving the service a chance.
VPN Unlimited by KeepSolid Inc.
For $8.99 a month (or an impressive $39.99 a year) VPN Unlimited offers every feature most people will ever need. That includes a wide array of available servers, anti-malware features, support for up to multiple devices, and IP address disguising options.
The only big downside to VPN Unlimited is that their trial and refund options aren’t quite as generous as other services. That being said, it’s a great overall service.
While no VPN can offer 100% security from cyber intrusions, any service is better than nothing at all if you’re concerned about cybersecurity. As long as you remember to browse responsibly, a VPN can offer tremendous peace of mind.