With the internet becoming less private and more intrusive thanks to globally prevalent data monitoring policies, many users have started asking themselves: ‘how do I hide my IP?’
A VPN is the best way to become anonymous over the worldwide web, since it lets you access it through a completely different IP address – a piece of information that would otherwise tie you to all the data collected illicitly (or legally) about your activities.
However, VPN software has become so popular that the market is flooded with products claiming to be quality paid and free VPN services when in reality they’re far from it. Here’s a guide to help you choose the best VPN for Australia, from the plethora of options available today.
Why do you need a VPN?
There are two main reasons why people are using VPNs these days:
Gain access to geo-restricted content:
Take the example of Netflix – the global TV content streaming giant has recently created separate libraries for all its regions, and Australians haven’t been getting the best deal up until now: the US library contains the lion’s share of top-notch content, but due to licensing reasons, it is only possible to access it from the US.
By using a VPN though, you’re able to hide your IP and spoof a US IP instead, making the Netflix website believe that you’re accessing it from within the US, even as you’re settling on your couch in Australia. Thus you’re able to enjoy unfettered access to a complete Netflix library in the world.
Protect your privacy:
For many individuals, keeping their online activity private is an even bigger deal than getting past a geo-restriction. The internet was created with the intent to be an anonymous means of communication and access, but lately, due to concerns about piracy and terrorism threats, it is being actively policed by government agencies.
Hackers are always a threat, but the government taking an active interest in its citizens’ online habits is a serious attack on the fundamentals of democracy and freedom.
Australia anti-piracy and anti-terrorism efforts by the government have resulted in exactly this: Meta data collection laws that compel internet providers to record information about the activities of their customers for a given period of time.
It is yet to be seen if these efforts will bear fruit in terms of preventing terrorism and fighting piracy in Australia, but given their intrusive nature, they’ll raise privacy concerns for honest and peaceful citizens.
Fortunately, a VPN will enable you to be rid of unwarranted surveillance under the pretense of curbing security threats and internet piracy Australia. With your IP spoofed to a different location, your ISP will be unable to tie your activities to your computer’s address, therefore you’ll be able to surf the web without any worry.
Obviously, it will be up to the user to respect anti-piracy Australia laws and not indulge in illegal activities e.g. video game, music and movie piracy Australia.
What to look for in a VPN:
One of the biggest considerations when purchasing a VPN is the regions in which its servers are located. A high-end VPN service will have its servers spread out across the globe, so you can change your location to any major city you want.
The greater the number of servers, the better the user experience of each customer of the VPN service, since they can spread the load to all over the world. If you’re looking for VPN solutions to be able to access location locked content, then it is mandatory that the VPN you pick have its servers in the country / countries where the said content is accessible.
For example, a VPN free service that has servers Australia will be useless to those who want to access Netflix’s US library – they’ll have to look for a service provider which has US VPN servers.
This is particularly important for those who will be downloading through BitTorrent or streaming HD video content from a geo-restricted service. If you’ve decided to pay for it, search for the fastest VPN Australia. It’s better to go by reviews from existing users in this regard, and you can always be certain that you’re getting by using a third party speed testing tool.
At present, the two most secure encryption protocols to look out for in a VPN service are OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec. Generally, the latter is a bit slow but supports a more diverse range of devices as compared to the former, which is more robust in terms of masking your data.
You should avoid PPTP and SSTP, the former because it is aged and has glitches which prevent it from being effective, and the latter because it is a proprietary Microsoft protocol with little support beyond their Windows OS.
As mentioned before, many individuals are beginning to subscribe to VPN providers simply to keep their activities private on the internet – and while a VPN will certainly help them do that by making it seem that their PC is located in a different country – it will be pointless if the country where the VPN is based has privacy intrusive laws which compel the service to maintain logs about their users’ online activities.
This is especially true with the US, the UK, and Australia VPN services since these regions have specific legislation that compels and enables ISPs and even VPN providers to maintain meta-data about their customers’ actions.
It is recommended that you pick a VPN provider with a very large user base, and preferably, an open no-logging policy. The larger the number of users, the more traffic will travel difficult it will be for the provider to single out your activity.
Before deciding on a particular product, make sure that it supports all the devices on which you indent to use it – unless of course, you’re mainly interested in using the VPN service for a very specific purpose.
Fortunately, the majority of quality VPN services today support popular platforms such as Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android. Depending on what your subscription cost is, you may or may not get the ability to have multiple devices connected through the VPN service simultaneously.
Are VPNs legal?
Basically, a VPN is a software that allows you to surf the internet with an IP different than your actual one – objectively, there is nothing wrong with this activity (even big time corporations utilize it to secure their online communications and transactions).
Using a VPN becomes illegal when the actual usage is illegal e.g. indulging transmitting malware, hacking, downloading illicit material and so on.
Note that the VPN service will be governed by the laws of the country it is based in, take the example of an American VPN service: the US VPN will have to comply with US laws – right now, this means that the service is not bound to maintain any user logs, but may be compelled to cooperate with the government in special circumstances.
In summation, there is no single VPN provider that can be referred to as the best Australian VPN. Depending on your requirements, you may not require more than a tiny free VPN service to access a location restricted website or even a Smart DNS proxy service.
Conversely, the best VPN for you may be a high end paid service with sophisticated military grade encryption, global servers, and seriously generous bandwidth.
Ultimately, if you’re clear on what your requirements are, you’ll be able to make the right decision.