Online activities all come with risk. This is especially true in recent years – it seems there’s a high-profile hack, data breach, malware attack, or other negative events in the cyber security sphere every few days. The effects can range from minor annoyances to compromising of bank accounts and financial data, ruined credit scores, fraud, insurance claims, and businesses losing millions in stock value. On an individual level, people’s information can be exposed, compromising their bank accounts, credit card transactions, personal and confidential data, identities, and more. For investors of all types, there is an even greater risk from hacking or compromised information, as it can translate to significant financial losses. So, aside from good password practices and working with reliable firms, brokerages, and information suppliers, how can investors protect themselves from trouble online? A VPN might be the ideal solution.
What are VPNs?
VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, used to be set up by companies or third parties for remote business network access. While that function still exists, today they are far better known as services that offer subscription access to a private, secure server network, usually via a computer client or phone app. Once subscribed with the client running, a user’s internet traffic goes across a virtual tunnel to a VPN server. It’s encrypted during this trip, using the same encryption technology that banks, financial institutions, and intelligence agencies use, AES-256, which is functionally impossible to break via brute force (mathematical models show it would take longer than the entire life of the universe so far, even using an array of the most advanced super computers we possess).
The encrypted traffic bypasses any kind of government or ISP monitoring or sensors, and makes it impossible for any other third-party to monitor the data stream, either – they would just see gibberish. When the traffic gets to the VPN server, it is decoded and processed. The server assigns an outbound IP address from its pool (so your true IP address isn’t revealed to destination servers), and it passes the traffic on to the correct destination. The entire process goes in reverse once the destination server issues response traffic.
What Are the Benefits of Using a VPN?
VPNs offer many advantages over a traditional, unprotected internet connection. The encrypted traffic, as discussed above, it effectively impossible to monitor or decode. You also bypass any potential throttling or other meddling by your internet service provider, as they can’t tell where your traffic is going in terms of ultimate destination – they just see a stream going from you to the VPN server, and can’t decipher the contents. The anonymity gained from using a pooled IP address, while obscuring and protecting your true IP address, greatly reduces the chances for you to be hacked based on your activities online. It also means any traces you leave online don’t point to your true address, but rather the VPN’s address pool. And while not super-critical from an investing standpoint, VPN services allow you to connect to servers in different countries, meaning the destination servers you access think you are based in whatever country where your selected VPN server resides. This can help bypass geographic content restrictions, blacklisting, site bans, and so forth.
The increased protection against hacking, bad actors, or having your information, finances, or trades compromised cannot be overstated. While you are still vulnerable to physical attack or physical access/theft of your digital information, and not immune to accidentally giving away sensitive information, most other avenues of digital attack are closed off when you are using a VPN service.
Why are VPNs Especially Important for Investors?
Using a VPN and fully securing your internet traffic is especially important for investors because, unlike average consumers or home users, investors typically have a lot of financial information and money at risk online. Even amateur, at-home investors, who don’t command multi-million dollar portfolios, stand to lose substantially more than the average internet user, if their financial information or personal information is compromised, or their systems hacked.
At the same time, VPNs can help prevent another kind of compromise for investors – unscrupulous actors attempting to gain inside access or knowledge to your trades or information, for the purposes of manipulating the market. With the encrypted data stream between you and the VPN server, it makes it virtually impossible for anyone to monitor or read your traffic in-transit, keeping confidential data and investment decisions private.
Last but not least, many VPN services provide additional protections and security measures that can benefit investors, including adware and malware protection, phishing and suspect website or connection protection, software firewalls, denial of service attack protection, and much more. And what’s more, most of these features require no effort or knowledge on the part of the user – they’re simply integrated into the VPN client, and always running so long as the client is, protecting you passively and actively as you research, trade, and invest. Comprehensive protection is available for all your network devices, including smartphones and tablets, in most cases, which can be especially beneficial to protect you when on public, unsecured Wi-Fi networks – a haven for bad actors trying to hack into unsecured systems. That’s why financial industry leaders like CNBC have advised investors to use VPN services.
Which VPN Providers Are the Best Choice for Investors?
So, with all of that said, which VPN providers are the best choice for investors? Which offer the best quality of service for the lowest price? When it comes to picking a VPN provider, there are several things to consider, including the speed of the service, their reputation, whether or not they keep logs of your traffic, what features they offer, what platforms/devices they are compatible with, and so forth. It can be a bit confusing for a newbie to navigate, and separate the good from the bad. Fortunately, there are excellent review sites that highlight VPN providers in detail. BestVPN24 offers comprehensive and detailed reviews of some of the best providers on the market today, and highly recommends NordVPN. They are a popular, large, reliable, high-speed provider that is also quite affordable. You can learn more about NordVPN from BestVPN24’s review at bestvpn24.com/nordvpn-review/.
Disclaimer: This content does not necessarily represent the views of IWB.