Best Android VPN Apps of 2017

Best Android VPN Apps of 2017

Most people understand that the Internet can be dangerous, especially on unsecure networks. Advertisers, attackers, and spies can steal your data from Wi-Fi networks, so security-minded people know to protect their laptops with a virtual private network or VPN service. That’s smart, but if you protect your desktop and not your mobile device, it’s like locking the front door but leaving the windows wide open. Your Android needs VPN protection, too.

In this roundup, I’ll talk about VPN apps for Android only. But most VPN services worth their salt also have apps for iPhone as well. I’ll be reviewing and rounding those up soon.

Taking out your tablet or using your phone to access the free Wi-Fi at the local coffee shop is a lot more dangerous than it seems. First, you have no way of knowing if the network has been configured incorrectly, allowing others on the network can’t see your data. Second, it’s entirely possible that nefarious parties have simply set up an innocent-looking wireless network to trick naive coffee drinkers; they can be very difficult to tell from the real thing.

In both of the scenarios above, someone could monitor your network traffic. Everything you send, from emails to passwords, would be open to them. That’s a lot of private information you’d probably rather keep private. One example of a classic man-in-the-middle attack is to use a bogus network to intercept victims’ Web traffic and replace legitimate sites with fake ones. When a victim goes to enter their information (everything from passwords to credit card numbers) on the site, the attacker gets it all.

If this all sounds far-fetched, it’s probably more common than anyone would like to admit. While attending the Black Hat security conference, I saw some 35,000 devices connecting to a malicious Wi-Fi network, all without the knowledge of their owners. The malicious network was configured to mimic whatever Wi-Fi request was made of it. You can bet that many of those devices were mobile phones merely seeking a familiar Wi-Fi network.

But even if it’s a safe Wi-Fi network, your personal information may still be at risk. Advertisers use advanced trackers that correlate your movements between websites. By placing trackers on a variety of sites and watching for requests from the same IP address, advertisers can get a sense of your habits. This is still true when you browse the Web on your Android. What’s more, many mobile apps still transmit data without encryption, letting various three-letter organizations keep an eye on you.

When you connect through a VPN, you interact differently with the Internet. Your data is sent through an encrypted tunnel to a VPN server, either nearby or in a far-flung location. Anyone monitoring your network connection only sees the gibberish of an encrypted connection. Because your traffic exits onto the open Web from the VPN server, advertisers and spies see the IP address of the VPN server and not your device. It’s a smart and simple way to keep your information and identity secure.

VPNs Can Fool Dictators, Netflix

A common use of VPNs is location spoofing. By sending your Web traffic through an encrypted tunnel to a remote server, you cause it to appear to originate from the VPN server and not your actual location. Journalists and activists have used this to get around restrictive Internet controls imposed by various governments.

But for most people, this feature will probably be used to watch region-locked streaming content. If you live in the US and want to watch the free video streams from the BBC, you’re out of luck. But with a VPN, you can fool the BBC website into believing you’re a noble UK citizen. The same is true for sporting events, such as official MLB streams.

That said, companies and content providers are starting to get wise. Netflix in particular has begun blocking VPN connections. I’ve noticed that Hulu, too, will frequently block access when I’m using a VPN. Note that streaming companies are well within their rights to block VPN users. Just because you’re paying to watch Netflix in the US doesn’t mean you are allowed to view UK Netflix.

Some VPN companies, like NordVPN, have publicly stated that they will work to ensure that users can access video services while using a VPN. But in my experience, their effectiveness can change on a day-to-day basis as the streaming companies and VPN services play a cat-and-mouse game of spoofing and blocking.

 

Get a VPN for Your Android!

Whether you’re a globe-trotting business magnate, or a humble homebody, a VPN service is a worthy investment. Your data will be more secure, and you’ll have much more flexibility in how your mobile traffic moves across the Web, even when you’re using your smartphone or tablet. It won’t protect you from every threat, of course, but it’s a simple way to be much more secure.

Top-Rated VPN

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN has 1,000 servers spread across the globe, making it a strong competitor, but it’s undercut by a comparably high price and few additional features.

 

Hide My Ass VPN (for Android)

Hide My Ass is an easy-to-use virtual private network (or VPN) Android app with a fun interface, but it delivers only middling speed and lacks some advanced features offered by the competition.

PureVPN (for Android)

PureVPN has excellent features but is hampered by awkward design and problematic performance.

Thanks for your time and do have a wonderful day…

 

This post was written by:

- who has written 10 posts on Internet Security.


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27 Responses to “Best Android VPN Apps of 2017”

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  13. Emma Mitchel says:

    I have a VPN service and I use it for a less conventional purpose: accessing my exchange email from client offices. Some corporate networks do not allow network traffic over ports other than 80. Using VPN is a good workaround for this.

    Do most of these VPN services support access over any port? I might switch services based on cost.

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  25. Valerie says:

    If you value prompt response to support requests, I strongly advise you to avoid saferVPN. I took out a one-month subscription based on the editorial reviews, with the intent of upgrading to an annual sub if I liked the service. I’ll be cancelling before the first month is up. I filed a support request the very first day to have my SMTP server whitelisted. In the week-plus since, I’ve gotten four or five “Hey New User, hope everything’s going great!” automated emails. I’ve replied to each of those emails referring to my original support ticket. I’ve even gone back in through the support page on the site to reference my original ticket number. I know they’re being received because I’ve gotten an automated confirmation email to each of my replies. Still, no acknowledgement of my original support request, and I still have to disconnect to send email through my SMTP server. If anyone would like to recommend a more customer-focused VPN provider, please do, because I’ll be cancelling PIA before this first month is up. I’ll also be taking PC World reviews with a big chunk of salt from now on. Horrible provider.

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