What are they and why should students use them?
While the glam rocker Alice cooper was not referring to digital devices when he sang “No more pencils, no more books”, the teaching aids have changed considerably since “School is overTopped the charts almost 50 years ago.
Today, students are lugging around laptops, tablets and smartphones – all connected wirelessly to the internet via Wi-Fi or 5G – providing access to online libraries, endless media content, and face-to-face video communication. to face.
But with this digital revolution comes additional risks, such as malware (malware) and hackers, cyberbullies, stalkers as well as crooks and other malicious actors who want to monitor your activity for financial gain.
Software like a Virtual private network (VPN), however, can help protect your privacy.
VPNs, which conceal your online identity using encryption, are especially useful for kids in college using insecure campus networks and free Wi-Fi hotspots in coffee shops, public libraries and more. Again.
“Since there is no way to be sure that a Wi-Fi router is secure, it makes sense to use a VPN for school, in order to protect your connection over Wi-Fi shared with others. other students and teachers, ”says Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy specialist. expert at NordVPN, a leading VPN provider that has been named “first choice for privacy conscious” by Security.org.
And no, the “Incognito” or “In-Private” mode of your browser is not the same. Of course, this will erase your browsing session history, passwords, and cookies after you log out, but your online activity is still visible, recorded, and could be shared or sold to third parties.
This means that your activity is always visible to the Internet Service Provider (ISP), as well as to the organization that provides the Internet connection (such as a school or restaurant). Websites you visit may also display the session.
Only a VPN can hide your browsing activity, providing true anonymity on the device you use it on.
What if you’re not using a VPN? For starters, a virus can delete the trial you’ve been working on for days, apps can secretly extract information from your smartphone, or you can see more phishing scam attempts from skinny emails. legitimate.
Wait, what is a VPN?
Instead of surfing the internet openly, which helps monitor your activity, a VPN changes your device’s IP address to ensure that your browsing session is private.
An IP address is a unique numeric address, such as 188.8.131.52, that identifies the (general) geographic location of a device on the Internet.
“With your data encrypted, you don’t have to worry about a potentially unsecured public Wi-Fi network,” adds Markuson. “Even if your educational institution has substandard router security, your personal information will still be safe.”
Some other student-centric benefits of using a VPN:
Bypass firewalls and censors. Some school networks use word-based firewalls to ban certain words or phrases and may accidentally include harmless words. “A VPN allows you to bypass these restrictions, easily access the resources you might need for school projects,” says Markuson.
“Borrow” an IP address from another country. This allows students to access international documents to improve the scope of their research. An online library in Britain, for example, may not allow someone in the United States to access eBooks, but with a VPN you can make it look like you’re in London depending on the IP address of a server in that city.
Protect your identity and your sexuality. Connecting to university Wi-Fi “could be a real problem for students at some institutions, where certain sexual orientations or gender identities are frowned upon,” adds Markuson. “With a VPN, individuals have the privacy to access online communities, support, and other resources, without fear of a university spying on them.”
Are VPNs Legal?
Using a VPN is completely legal, as long as you don’t do anything online that breaks the law.
It’s likely your school, college, or university will know you’re using a VPN, warns Markuson, but not what you do online. Some organizations may have rules against using VPN, while others will have no problem with it.
“If you are worried about getting into trouble or breaking school rules, we recommend that you discuss VPN use with a school administrator or teacher,” adds Markuson.
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How to choose a VPN
OK, so you like the idea of a VPN, but notice that there are hundreds of companies offering them.
How do you choose the right one for you?
Some things to take into account:
Resist the use of “free” VPNs. They probably need to monetize their software in some way. Ironically, while VPNs are designed to ensure privacy, your information may be monitored, logged, logged, stored, or passed on to a third party. Make sure the company you are going with has a strict policy against this.
NordVPN, for example, has been independently audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers to validate the assertion of the company’s no-registration policy is correct.
Put the price in perspective. Keep in mind that most premium VPNs cost less than a latte per month, so there’s really no need to use free VPNs. Like other cybersecurity software, most VPNs are subscription-based and must be renewed.
(A current NordVPN plan costs $ 3.30 per month for two years or $ 4.92 per month for a one-year plan. The software can be installed on up to six devices and used simultaneously.)
Do your research before you buy. Read user reviews and reviewers for a balanced view of the quality of service you expect. For example, some VPNs may limit the number of servers you can choose from or the length of time you can stay in a given session.
Check the compatibility. Learn about the devices that work well with a particular VPN and mMake sure all of your favorite devices are on the list.
Look for bonus features. Some VPNs offer additional services (sometimes as part of the same subscription price), like a password locker, so look for those extras, if they appeal to you, to save money elsewhere.
Is it difficult to reach a human? Don’t underestimate the importance of good technical support and good customer service. Research which companies are doing it well – in case you need to.
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