Internet safety is actively discussed, especially among mobile device users. The formerly popular opinion that Android is not scared of viruses and impossible to hack has been torn to shreds by an army of thousands of hackers. Google’s internal services monitor literally every step in the network and even more. Millions of stolen dollars, stolen personal information, corporate espionage through the net, interception of personal communication – this is not just the reality, it is the norm.
How do you protect your digital life? How can you safely use the internet when connected to open, public Wi-Fi networks? How do you work with confidential data from home without the risk of leakage? How do you access sites blocked in your country? There is one answer to all these questions – VPN.
What is a VPN? How can it be connected, and will this service be a “jump from the frying pan into the fire”, since the data will now be intercepted by the app developers? Of course, there are risks. But they are easy to avoid if you connect to a reliable provider Switcherry. How to do this, how to install the client and safely use digital services will be discussed in this article.
Table of contents
- 1 What does a VPN connection on Android do?
- 2 How to set up a VPN on Android?
- 3 Which VPN should you choose?
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What does a VPN connection on Android do?
The term VPN literally means Virtual Private Network. The technology is designed to create local virtual networks on top of the global one (the internet). It allows you to safely connect devices scattered geographically.
A common situation. A company has several offices: one in New York, the second in Mumbai, the third in St. Petersburg. In addition, a dozen employees work remotely from home. It is dangerous to exchange documents through ordinary channels – secret messages or company reports are easily intercepted as soon as the data gets into the general network: providers see them, scammers can download them. Even a “lamer” can view the traffic of a remote employee working through open Wi-Fi in a hotel. All risks are covered by a VPN.
When connecting devices to a virtual network, the transmitted data is encrypted, it is almost impossible to intercept them. More precisely, in theory, interception of such traffic is possible. But with the right setup, it will take millennia to decrypt using modern computing power.
VPN is a legal software that increases safety when working on a network (do not forget about firewalls and antiviruses). For corporate users, this is a software on the “Must Have” list. But the technology has a full list of opportunities:
- Safe access to the internet from public Wi-Fi networks. Using a VPN, by connecting to one of the providers, you can protect yourself from data theft (nude photos, personal messages, login and password), while in a cafe or shopping center;
- Access to sites and services that do not work in your country (restricted by government authorities or directly by the service provider). You can visit online casinos, HULU, porn sites, blocked news sites;
- A way to hide your activity on the internet – you can visit any site, watch videos. Your browsing history will remain anonymous for the provider and the services directly visited. Of course, provided that you used the anonymous mode (without storing cookies) and did not leave other traces (messages, posts, did not log in from your accounts).
Depending on which group of people you belong to, you may ask one of these logical questions: Is it really possible to get rid of the complete tracking of advertising networks, hackers, security services…? Or: isn’t the internet anonymous and you can do whatever you want here?
How a VPN works
First, a little theory about computer networks. To put it simply, information is transmitted not in separate files, but in packets (or frames). The address of the recipient and sender is assigned to each packet, so that the network device understands where to forward the data. The packet (it does not matter whether you visit a site, download a file or watch a video) passes through a complex route through dozens of servers and switches located in different data centers.
At each “transshipment point”, the information is processed, copied, leaving its mark. The transmitted data can be viewed by an internet provider – the information passes through its servers. Or, in a few clicks, set filters and restrict access to certain addresses – in our case, sites. A hacker does not have to hack your PC, it is enough to connect to one of the intermediate servers (not everyone is concerned about security) and intercept traffic along with passwords, logins, and personal photos.
With open Wi-Fi networks, it’s even more prosaic. Routers work by broadcasting – all data simultaneously goes in one stream and is filtered directly on the connected devices. They are easily intercepted not only by the network administrator, but also by other users connected to the network (if there are some special programs).
Various companies (banks, social networks, payment systems) use encryption (such as SSL, TLS) for secure connection (HTTPS). But reliable methods of protection are not always used.
VPN – closes the safety “holes”. The technology means that your smartphone or computer does not exchange information directly with a remote server (website, application, banking), but through an intermediate host.
Here is how it looks. The device is connected to a remote server where the necessary software is installed. Physically, it can be located in a neighboring building or on another continent: in the United States, Australia, somewhere in the African deserts. A “tunnel” is laid between your device and the server – all information in it is encrypted. 128-bit or 256-bit encryption is used – it will take a couple of millennia to crack.
After the connection, information is not directly exchanged with the site or app, but through a remote server. Yes, the technology will not protect you from visiting fraudulent pages and possible viruses on them. But a hacker at the next table in a cafe or an internet provider can’t intercept your traffic. They will see depersonalized data – an incomprehensible, useless set of bits that the smartphone exchanges with the server. Real IP packets with a linked address are encrypted and “packed” into a container.
The provider will see the connection to the remote server, but will not be able to block access to the sites you need. Similarly, the visited resources will store requests from an intermediate server, which makes it difficult for hackers from phishing sites to hack your PC (they squeeze out the real IP addresses of users, connection ports; knowing them, it is easier to hack a device). This is why it is so important to hide your IP when surfing the Internet. And hide it even on Android.
To use VPN technology, you do not need to create your own secure network. You can connect to a special provider, for example, Switcherry. In any case, you need to install a client – a small application that will be responsible for encrypting and decrypting data.
How to set up a VPN on Android?
There are a few things you need to do to set up a VPN.
Configuring the built-in support
Android has built-in VPN support. But you can not just click a button and hide your traffic.
To make everything work, you need to:
- create an account with a VPN provider;
- enter the settings received from the provider into your phone.
The huge bonus is that you do not need to install a third-party application, which is important for older smartphones, where memory is very limited.
It is not difficult to configure the built-in application. Go to the main settings of the smartphone (lower the “curtain” and press the settings icon). In new versions of the OS, “VPN” is located in the main menu in the “wireless & networks” block. In older versions, it is hidden in the “advanced options” submenu.
In new versions of the Android OS, you can go to the VPN settings section from the main menu. Go to “VPN ” (on some devices it may be called “Virtual Networks”) and click the “Add VPN” button (or “New Network”).
VPN menu with server settings, the “Add a new network” button is at the bottom – click to create a new connection.
What remains is to enter a few settings:
- Choose any name of choice, it is not important for the VPN to work;
- Type (connection type) – leave it by default (usually PPTP is installed) or choose the technology that was specified to the service provider;
- Enter the IP address of the server – select it from the list provided by the provider. This is the address that will be seen by the sites that are visited from the smartphone;
- The username and password that was received when registering with the provider.
The problem is that most providers prefer to use their own applications, so it is almost impossible to get configurations. Why is that? If the service is wrongly configured, incorrect operation of the service is possible: low speed, communication interruptions. Most users will not understand what the reason is. They will simply blame everything on low service quality and leave a negative review.
Google Play app
If there is enough memory on the smartphone, it is more convenient to install a mobile app from Google Play store. You need a little more than 100 MB. That’s all, no additional settings.
The procedure is simple:
- go to Google Play;
- enter VPN in the search and click on the selected application;
- click the “Install” button.
Installation is the same as for other programs from Google Play. After the process is completed, what remains is to log in to the application, select one of the servers and click on the “Connect” button.
The necessary settings are already in the client.
Which VPN should you choose?
There are several options for VPN, each has its own characteristics.
Paid or free
The most vital question. Saving money and hoping that the developer is honest, so he or she will not leak your data to scammers or advertising networks? But where is the guarantee that those who created paid software will not do this? We won’t know the truth anyway. There are more mundane questions: transfer rate, ping (delay) and whether there will be too much advertising.
When choosing a VPN, first of all we look at the reliability of the service, this can be seen by the number of downloads. If the application is used by millions, it is a good sign.
Lots of downloads and a rating of more than four stars – is ideal for any mobile application. But don’t be fooled. A high rating and five stars is good, but this is not the main thing. Some developers cheat by buying custom reviews. A bad service will eventually have negative comments. Angry posts that alternate praises are an indicator that the software owners use dishonest methods of promotion. So, where is the guarantee that they will act better with customers and provide a high-quality service?
From another angle, if there aren’t many downloads, and there are no blunt negative comments in the Play Market – perhaps the application just emerged recently and hasn’t got the hype yet.
Who can use the free service?
The features of free VPN services are enough for most users. These include an unlimited speed, there are 3-5 servers to choose from (sometimes more) in different countries, most often it is Germany, Singapore, the USA, the Netherlands, Mexico. The ping can take up to 3-5 seconds. During peak hours, due to the large number of connections on some servers, the speed drops down, up to 1-2 mbps (that is more than enough for surfing).
It is the right option for an ordinary user to safely use the internet in a cafe or shopping center, to protect personal messages or the exchange of private photos from the system administrator. It is also a way to visit services that are not available in the country, for example, to watch TV series on HULU or on the Netflix version for Americans.
Who can’t do without a paid tariff?
Paid services have an extended list of servers. Some applications have up to 60 regions or more in the list. These are servers in major cities of the United States, the European Union, China, as well as various exotic countries: Belize, Maldives, Madagascar. The second feature is low ping, stable speed.
Paid VPN services are needed by small entrepreneurs (large companies launch their own VPN servers), for whom it is important to guarantee data privacy. For gamblers and betters, if they need a large selection of countries to connect. For gamers to connect to game servers that are not available in their country.
Built-in or third-party client
The first limitation is how old the smartphone is and the installed OS. Older Androids (below version 6 or 5) may not support a third-party VPN client, or there is no memory space for it. In this case, you will have to understand the settings and set everything up manually.
There are other reasons in favor of the built-in application. There are no ads which you will have to watch in some free programs. Stable operation is guaranteed, without lags or disconnection.
The reason in favor of a third-party client is convenience. You do not need to enter the settings, create a new connection to change the server. In the application from the provider, this can be done in a couple of clicks.
If you have a new smartphone and do not want to understand the ins and outs of configuration – definitely install the client from Google Play Store. If you have chosen an application from a reliable developer, you will enjoy stable work, just as with built-in software.
Switcherry – the fastest VPN with improved protection
You will be amazed, there are many reliable and secure VPN applications. However, only a few offer high speed, a large selection of servers, unlimited access and high complexity of cryptographic protection. Switcherry VPN ticks all these boxes.
According to Speedtest by Ookla, Switcherry is the fastest VPN in the world among paid and free services. Maximum speed and less-than-a-second ping are available in the free tariff. The service uses servers in the best data centers; for example, DigitalOcean is in the list of partners.
The cherry on the cake – 74 servers in different countries to choose from. The list includes Canada, Germany, USA, India, Bangladesh, Czechia, Egypt, Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, Zambia, France, Hong Kong. This is available without registration and payment.
Switcherry VPN uses 128-bit encryption, which cannot be hacked using the most powerful computers. There are no restrictions on the number of downloaded or transmitted gigabytes – watch your favorite TV series, download torrents, share photos, there is no limit.
Are there really no additional conditions? There is – when you start the application, you need to view an ad with a duration of 3-5 seconds. You need to reconnect to the network every 60 minutes or watch another small ad to extend operation for another two hours. After spending 1-2 minutes watching ads, you can work, watch videos at maximum speed all day, no one will disturb you.
There is a paid Premium version – you can use it without ads or trying to reconnect to the network every few hours. The subscription includes up to seven devices: laptop, desktop PC, Smart TV, mobile gadgets. There are applications for all popular platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android.
The app can be downloaded from Google Play Store. To do this:
- follow the link switcherry-vpn.com/vpn-for-android;
- scan the QR code, follow the link;
- click install.
Or enter “switcherry vpn” in the Google Play search bar. After installation, log in to the application and click on the appropriate server.