The Essential Guide to VPNs

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a technology that allows you to create a secure connection over a less secure network, such as the internet. It works by routing your device's internet connection through the VPN's private server instead of your internet service provider (ISP). This process helps to enhance your online privacy and security by encrypting your data and masking your IP address, making it more difficult for third parties to track your online activities or steal your information.

Benefits of Using a VPN on Smartphones

Using a VPN on your smartphone brings several key benefits:

  • Enhanced Privacy: By hiding your IP address and encrypting your data, a VPN ensures your online activities remain private, even when using public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Improved Security: VPNs protect your personal information from hackers by encrypting your internet traffic, which is particularly important when performing sensitive transactions online.
  • Access to Restricted Content: A VPN can bypass geographical restrictions and censorship by allowing you to connect to servers in different countries, giving you access to a broader range of content.
  • Safe and Secure Browsing: With a VPN, you can browse the internet safely and securely, knowing that your personal information is protected against potential cyber threats.

Common Privacy Threats

Tracking and Data Harvesting

One of the most pervasive threats comes from tracking and data harvesting practices employed by websites and apps. These entities collect vast amounts of personal information, from browsing habits to location data, often without explicit consent. This information can be used to build detailed profiles for targeted advertising or, more concerningly, sold to third parties.

Unsecured Wi-Fi Networks

Public Wi-Fi networks, while convenient, are hotbeds for potential security breaches. Unsecured networks, found in cafes, airports, and hotels, can easily be exploited by cybercriminals to intercept personal data transmitted over these connections. From email contents to credit card details, the information you send and receive on these networks can be dangerously exposed.

Phishing Scams and Malware

Phishing scams, designed to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information, and malware, malicious software intended to damage or disable computers and systems, continue to evolve in sophistication. These threats capitalize on human error and software vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to personal data and secure systems.

Location Tracking

Another significant concern is location tracking. Many apps request access to your device's GPS, ostensibly to offer location-based services. However, this data can also be used to track movements over time, raising serious privacy concerns about who has access to this information and how it is used.

Choosing the right VPN (Virtual Private Network) for your smartphone is crucial in safeguarding your digital privacy. Here's a guide to help you make an informed decision:

1. Determine Your Needs

First, understand why you need a VPN. Is it for browsing securely on public Wi-Fi, bypassing geo-restrictions, or ensuring your online activities remain private? Your primary need will influence which VPN is suitable for you.

2. Look for Strong Security Features

A good VPN should offer strong encryption methods, such as AES-256, to protect your data. Look for features like a kill switch, which disconnects your device from the internet if the VPN connection drops, ensuring your data remains secure.

3. Check the Privacy Policy

Read the VPN provider's privacy policy to ensure they have a strict no-logs policy. This means they don't store any information about your online activities, ensuring your privacy is maintained.

4. Consider the Number of Servers

A VPN with a wide range of servers across different countries allows you to access geo-restricted content and ensures you can always find a fast, reliable connection.

5. Evaluate Ease of Use

The VPN app should be user-friendly, with a simple interface that makes it easy to connect to a server, change your settings, and manage your subscription.

6. Assess Speed and Reliability

VPN can slow down your internet connection, so it's important to choose a service known for its speed and reliability. Look for reviews or test the service yourself using a free trial or money-back guarantee.

7. Compatibility with Your Devices

Ensure the VPN you choose is compatible with your smartphone's operating system, whether it's iOS, Android, or another platform. Some VPNs also offer simultaneous connections, allowing you to protect multiple devices with a single account.

8. Customer Support

Good customer support is essential, especially if you're new to VPNs. Look for a provider that offers 24/7 support through live chat or email, so you can get help whenever you need it.

9. Price and Payment Options

Compare prices and subscription plans to find one that fits your budget. Consider whether you're willing to commit to a longer subscription for a lower monthly rate. Also, check the payment options to ensure they meet your preferences, including anonymity.

Here is are review of 3 VPN´s we tested:

1. Surfshark

Features and Strengths:

  • Unlimited Devices: Unlike many other VPN services, Surfshark allows you to use a single subscription on an unlimited number of devices. This feature is particularly beneficial for households with multiple smartphones, tablets, and computers.
  • CleanWeb: Surfshark's CleanWeb technology blocks ads, trackers, malware, and phishing attempts, ensuring a cleaner and safer browsing experience on your smartphone.
  • NoBorders Mode: This feature allows you to use Surfshark in restrictive regions, making it a great option for travelers or individuals in countries with heavy internet censorship.

Smartphone Usability: Surfshark offers intuitive and user-friendly apps for both iOS and Android platforms. With just a few taps, you can connect to a server, making it an excellent choice for those who value simplicity and efficiency.

2. ProtonVPN

Features and Strengths:

  • Strong Security Focus: ProtonVPN, developed by the team behind the secure email service ProtonMail, emphasizes security and privacy. It uses AES-256 encryption, secure core servers, and a strict no-logs policy.
  • Free Version Available: ProtonVPN offers a FREE version with unlimited data, which is a rarity among VPN services. This makes it an accessible option for those looking to try a VPN without financial commitment.
  • Tor Over VPN: For enhanced privacy, ProtonVPN allows you to route your traffic through the Tor network via its VPN, adding an extra layer of anonymity.

Smartphone Usability: ProtonVPN's app is straightforward, with a focus on security settings and server selection. It might cater more to users who prioritize privacy over speed and are familiar with VPN technology.

3. NordVPN

Features and Strengths:

  • Double VPN: NordVPN offers double encryption by routing your traffic through two VPN servers, providing an additional security layer.
  • CyberSec: The CyberSec feature blocks dangerous websites and ads, offering protection against threats such as malware and phishing.
  • Large Server Network: With over 5,400 servers in 59 countries, NordVPN ensures you can always find a fast and reliable connection, which is crucial for streaming and downloading on smartphones.

Smartphone Usability: NordVPN's app is sleek and easy to navigate, making it suitable for both beginners and advanced users. The Quick Connect feature automatically selects the best server, simplifying the process for everyday smartphone use.


Limitations of VPNs

While VPNs are a critical tool in the quest for digital privacy, they are not a panacea. Understanding the limitations of VPNs is essential for developing a comprehensive approach to online security.

What VPNs Can't Protect Against:

  • Malware and Viruses: VPNs do not provide protection against malware or viruses that might infect your device. It's crucial to have robust antivirus software and practice safe browsing habits.
  • Phishing Scams: VPNs cannot protect you from phishing attempts. These scams trick individuals into divulging personal information through deceptive emails or websites. Awareness and caution are your best defenses against these threats.

Importance of a Comprehensive Approach to Privacy:

Relying solely on a VPN for online privacy is like locking your front door but leaving the windows open. A holistic approach to digital security involves using VPNs alongside other privacy tools and practices, such as secure passwords, two-factor authentication, and regular software updates.


VPNs play a pivotal role in enhancing the privacy of smartphone users by encrypting internet traffic and masking IP addresses. However, they are just one piece of the privacy puzzle. In the digital age, where threats can come from many directions, combining the use of VPNs with other privacy measures is the best strategy for safeguarding your online activities.

Encouragement to Use VPNs as Part of a Broader Privacy Protection Strategy:

We encourage all smartphone users to consider VPNs as a fundamental component of their digital privacy toolkit. By integrating VPNs with other security practices, you can enjoy a more secure and private online experience, minimizing your digital footprint and protecting your personal information from prying eyes.

Got questions? Reach out to the author, Andre Hostalacio: