Only a few years ago, the average user did not pay much attention to their online security. Phenomenon like browser cookies tracking user’s whereabouts or social media websites scooping up troves of personal data for targeted ads did not get much attention. Never mind worrying about mass Internet surveillance. But since the Edward Snowden leaks from the NSA and the myriad cyber-attacks hitting small and major companies seemingly every week, a lot has changed.
Today, there is greater awareness of the security pitfalls of using the Internet. In this article, we’ll give you a few tips on how to improve your online security using a popular Virtual Private Network called PureVPN.
Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, are more popular than ever according to several providers, who have recorded growing subscription and user numbers since the Snowden leaks of 2013. Services like PureVPN appeal to a wide array of users from those looking to guard their digital footprints to those simply looking to access geo-restricted content.
How to stay private online
A VPN allows a user to access a private network where they can tunnel their Internet traffic through encrypted channels. The service effectively hides and changes your Internet Protocol (IP) address in favor of a different one courtesy of a server run by the VPN company.
Providers have servers dotted around the world and when you log in, you’ll be assigned an IP address from a region you want. For example, if you’re based in the UK and wanted to access an American geo-restricted site, you can select a US IP. Your Internet browsing will be much more secure while connected to a VPN.
Now the use of VPNs has come under more scrutiny and examination ever since the NSA leaks and major hack attacks. More people are looking for anonymity tools than before but what issues can a VPN face in protecting your anonymity online?
IPv6 leaks and DNS hijacking
Recently a study from security researchers in Italy and the UK made some startling discoveries about VPN programs, namely a vulnerability in IPv6, the most recent IP communications protocol, which could lead to DNS hijacking where an attacker could find their way into the network and gain private data.
Several VPN providers responded by saying that the findings were a little outdated and their VPN service had been patched to address many of these concerns. “Since the time it was reported, PureVPN has made several security and privacy enhancements to its VPN network,” said PureVPN in response. A number of other VPNs made similar statements.
PureVPN uses a different DNS server on each of its VPN servers, which it says reduces the vectors for attack.
Kill switch protection
Kill switches are a relatively new feature in VPN and security software, and have become much more prominent in recent years. Even major smartphone manufacturers have started implementing similar features. A kill switch effectively gives the user an option to shut down a service when it is potentially at risk.
In the case of VPNs, a kill switch kicks into effect when your Internet connection becomes insecure. If your connection drops out, your VPN will stop working and your original IP can be exposed and your Internet traffic could be vulnerable. A split second opportunity like this is all a hacker may need and it can be the difference between being attacked and keeping safe. A kill switch detects when your IP may be leaking and shuts down all activity on your computer.
Only when you reconnect to the Internet as well as your VPN will the kill switch disable and you can return to browsing. Think of it as a fail-safe; it’s what PureVPN calls “total protection”.
An extra layer of security but not perfect
VPNs offer an extra layer of security to users, whether personal or business, but no one method is 100 percent secure. All software can suffer vulnerabilities and be open to attack.
Once again there was another discovery earlier this summer from security researchers, this time regarding OpenSSL, which would allow an attacker to disguise themselves as a secure server and retrieve your information. Ever since the infamous Heartbleed vulnerability of last year, OpenSSL vulnerabilities have been reported much more rigorously.
Much like the concerns over DNS hijacking mentioned earlier, PureVPN responded with a blog post ensuring its users that it was secure and they need not worry about the “Next Heartbleed”.
When choosing a VPN provider, you want one that will act fast when a potential security vulnerability emerges in the technology.
“Your favorite VPN is secure and our first priority is to offer the best solution for complete internet freedom to our users,” said PureVPN.
Now PureVPN is currently offering new customers its 1+1 offer. Users that purchase a one year subscription of PureVPN will get another year free. The offer is available for a limited time only. You can check out PureVPN’s price plans here.
This article was sponsored by PureVPN