With the emergence of the smartphone came a whole new wave of convenience and multi-tasking. Where laptops and desktop computers used to be the most popular way of connecting, tablets have entered classrooms, and smartphones have become so much more than just communication devices.
The connectivity we achieve with these devices is amazing, and the applications seem to be growing exponentially. At every turn, developers are pushing the limits of what can be digitized and streamlined with this technology, and our lives are becoming more adaptive and synced than ever before.
All of this convenience no doubt comes at a price though. As we download more apps and hand over more of our lives to the supreme knowledge of our palm-sized personal assistants, the rules of privacy and information ownership continue to blur and shift. We sacrifice a great deal of our anonymity for these conveniences, and allow everything we do to be traced back to us with great ease, thanks to our phone’s IP address.
This unique numeric code identifies your device, and follows all of your online activity, much like a driver’s license or social security number would. It gives servers your location information, and allows for all sorts of privacy violations to occur.
The more innocent of these violations is still unnerving and annoying – targeted marketing. Have you ever noticed how if you shop around for something repeatedly, or make a purchase, that you suddenly see ads on the sides of websites for the very item you were interested in? This is no coincidence. The website is collecting some of your device’s cookies, and using them to sell to you.
Your IP address is used by ad software in much the same way, only in this particular case it may be to offer you regional products, or refer you to websites and activities that interest people in your geographic location.
On a much more serious and sinister note, your cookies and IP address can be used by law enforcement agencies and government organizations to track and seize your internet records from your smartphone’s activity. Oftentimes, they can do all of this without a warrant, and without your knowledge. Judicial power trumps corporate privacy policies, and your information changes hands rapidly, as you sit none the wiser.
Taking Back Your Privacy
It’s so frustrating that such awesome technology should come with such a steep price. Fortunately, it’s not one that you have to pay. There are ways to block activity logging, hide your IP address, and keep your connection truly anonymous and private while using your smartphone.
The easiest way, and the one that I’ll be explaining here, is by using a VPN. You may have already heard about this type of software, but for those that haven’t, let’s review.
Virtual Private Networks are essentially encrypted tunnels in the internet, provided by host companies for a monthly subscription fee. These tunnels come with rock-solid encryption, and IP address concealment that truly makes you a ghost when you’re online.
VPNs started out as software for computers, and as technology expanded, so did the applications of this concept. Most VPNs now have software that is compatible with smartphone operating systems like Android and iOS, allowing users to protect their privacy, even when using mobile devices.
What’s more is that this service is a huge boon to protection from hackers. Since many smartphone users access the internet on public Wi-Fi networks, they’re at a significantly increased risk for hackers. Problems like identity theft and fraud have shot sky high as a key indicator of this new found problem, which VPNs can virtually eliminate.
How It Works
Here’s the best part: you don’t have to be a tech-genius to use one of these things. VPNs are incredibly simple, and most come with user-friendly software that walks you through the process, and allows you to select a server and connect in seconds.
Basically, the VPN creates a secret tunnel through cyberspace that no one – not even law enforcement – can access or infiltrate. This tunnel connects you to a secure server (usually of your choosing) that the company provides, and gets you online. The VPN’s software automatically reassigns you an IP address, based on the server location you’ve chosen, and before you know it, you’re surfing incognito.
It’s simple, it’s effective, and it really is the very best way to kick the government out of your business, and keep adware from constantly getting into your virtual cookie jar.
The Other Side of the Coin
One additional benefit of using a VPN that many users abroad take full advantage of is their ability to circumvent geographical content blocks. If you’re not familiar with this concept, well, then lucky you.
Some countries have very strict limits on the content their citizens and visitors can access on the internet. Countries in the United Arab Emirates for example do not allow access to politically sensitive material, dating sites, pornography, and many social media services. China is on very much the same page, even restricting access to online communication services like Skype and VoIP.
The added benefit of using a VPN is that you can totally get around all of these blocks, regardless of the fact that you’re actually in that area. The IP address blocking technology blows your access wide open by tricking servers into thinking you’re somewhere you’re not, and before you know it, you’re back online.
In addition, users clamoring to get American versions of their favorite TV streaming services like Netflix and HBO Go can access these by connecting to American servers. Win, win, and win.
VPNs: Your New Best Friend
If you’re at all concerned with protecting your privacy when you’re using your smartphone, or even just want to have access to all of your favorite content, VPNs are definitely the easiest way to do that. The best ones have software that do all of the connection configurations for you, so it’s as simple as swipe, select, and connect.
Take back your privacy, and never let geo-blocking get in the way of what you do on your smartphone again.