How to set up a VPN on your phone

When your phone connects to the web, prying eyes can snoop on every site you visit. To protect your privacy, put a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, between your phone and the internet. Instead of connecting directly to a website, you’ll connect to your VPN’s servers, which then route you to the page. This hides your browsing from prying eyes, but it can also slow down the speed at which pages load. However, its benefits override this quibble. For example, because a VPN can connect to servers anywhere in the world, it lets you visit a video portal or a news site as if you were in a different country—which allows you to access different content as a result.

Choose a good app

When you look for a VPN, keep an eye out for networks with high speeds, strong encryption, and a no-logging policy—in other words, they won’t permanently store any information about your online activities. We recommend paying for a service rather than relying on free tools, because it takes money to run one of these networks, and if you’re not paying for it, then you don’t know how the VPN supports itself. Even if you do find a free VPN that’s legitimate and above-board (they do exist), it will often struggle to keep up decent speeds and a reliable connection.

What using a VPN is like

Mobile VPNs make the setup process simple. To demonstrate how you do it, we’ve picked a couple examples, and we’ll walk you through installing those apps on your Android or iOS device. Both platforms let VPNs run happily in the background, so when you use these apps, you won’t notice much of a difference in your phone’s function.

Many VPN apps, including the two we covered below, will start by connecting you to a recommended server, usually the one closest to you, since it will provide faster speeds. If you want to change your virtual location to a different country, you can do so easily, but be aware that the further away a VPN server is from you, the more the connection speed will lag.

Setup on Android

No matter what VPN you sign up for, the setup procedure is more or less the same. So for Android, we’ll demonstrate the setup with one of our favorite VPN apps, ExpressVPN.

In addition to its Android app, the ExpressVPN service is also available on iOS phones and most major computer operating systems. It’s fast, encrypted, and unrestricted, and the company promises not to collect data on your online activities. Through it, you can access 148 servers across 94 countries.

We’d recommend signing up for this service through its website, where the payment plans are more clearly visible than they are in the app. Depending on how many months you commit to at once, the price will vary from about $8 to $13 per month.

Setup on iOS

As on Android, most VPN apps will take you step by step through the setup process, and they’ll function similarly as well. Again, we’ll explain with a specific app, in this case, NordVPN.

NordVPN has a strict no-logs policy, puts no restrictions on bandwidth, creates apps for all major computer and phone operating systems, and offers high-speed connections to more than 4,800 servers in a total of 62 different countries.

It’s easiest to sign up for NordVPN on its website before you install the app on your phone. Depending on how much time you book at once, the service will cost about $3 to $12 per month.…

How to make sure no one is spying on your computer

A program that spies on your computer activity is one of the most dangerous forms of malware. It won’t present you with a ransomware request or announce it’s deleting your files. Instead, it hides silently on your system, watching and recording all your computer activity.

Spyware can do everything from hijacking your webcam feed to recording your keyboard inputs. The culprits ultimately aim to collect enough of your personal data to steal your identity, take over your accounts, or expose your digital life in other ways. To minimize the odds of an unwanted program taking root on your machine, follow our guide to staying spyware-free.

Secure your system

To start with, you need to establish solid protection for your computer. Most antivirus programs for both Windows and macOS will protect against keyloggers, webcam hackers, and other types of spyware, especially if you vigilantly keep this software up to date. How do you choose? You won’t find a “one size fits all” security solution for everyone. For most home computers, free software should provide adequate level of protection, but paying for an upgraded version of the program will increase your chances of staying safe.

Avoid infection

Even with a strong antivirus program in place, you don’t want to give spyware a chance to hitch a ride on your computer. If you want to keep prying eyes off your system, then you need to monitor all the potential ways malicious code can worm its way into your machine. Sadly, some spyware enters through the household, when people attempt to pry into the computer behavior of their friends and family members. While we’re sure everyone in your home is perfectly trustworthy…a shared computer should still have separate user accounts for each person who relies on that machine. Protect those accounts with passwords to keep out snoops: In Windows, do this in Settings > Accounts; in macOS, check the setting in System Preferences > Users & Groups.

Know the warning signs

No matter how tight you make your system’s defenses, you shouldn’t get complacent. In addition to taking the aforementioned precautions against infection, keep an eye out for these signs of spyware’s presence.

One red flag is a system that runs sluggishly. Of course, older computers slow down gradually over time, but watch for a sudden drop in performance. Also keep an eye out for a lot of hard drive activity and software pauses, especially if they happen even when your computer is not running a lot of programs.…

How to Respond to a Data Breach

If you’re like most Americans, cybersecurity is always in the back of your mind, but it takes an event like Equifax’s massive data breach to bring it to full attention. After compromising the social security numbers of 143 million Americans, Equifax is facing scrutiny from the media, consumers, and even other businesses, as they’re an extremely trusted and public company, and are responsible for the biggest data breach of all time.

Important Steps to Take

These are the most important steps to take after you’ve suffered a suspected breach of data:

Prevent further data loss. The most important step to take after a breach is to prevent any further damages in the form of data loss. In some cases, the damage may already be done. In others, taking swift proactive action could diminish the potential damage caused by the incident. Investigate to determine the root of the breach; if there’s a security vulnerability, patch it. If necessary, take your systems offline until you can figure out exactly what happened. It’s important to stop the bleeding before moving forward.

Secure your physical storage. Next, ensure the security of your physical storage, whether that’s with an in-house server, or hosted with a cloud provider. Check the integrity of your data, and the integrity of your backups to get a clear understanding of the situation.

Contact law enforcement. Cybercrime is still a crime, so your next step should be to contact law enforcement and file a report. Make sure you tell police officers exactly what happened, when it happened, when you realized it happened, and any other details you can provide. Cybercrime specialists will likely work with your team to investigate the matter more completely, and hopefully identify the culprits.

Announce the breach to customers. As quickly as possible, announce the breach to your customers. This won’t be fun, and you’re going to face significant backlash no matter what you say, but the sooner you address it, the better. Addressing the breach quickly shows that you’re on top of it, and that you’re transparent enough to admit the breach to your customers. Apologize, and explain what you’re doing to correct the problem.

Give customers clear steps to take. Your customers will likely need to take action after the breach, such as changing their passwords, watching their bank accounts closely for fraudulent activity, or even freezing their credit. Print a brochure to send out, or create a website that lists the next steps each customer needs to take to remain secure, and have your customer service staff available to address questions.

Address and correct misinformation. As people talk about the breach and the media reports on it, you’re likely to see significant misinformation circulating, such as rumors about what happened or bad advice on what steps to take next. Have your PR team proactively scout for this misinformation and correct it as soon as possible—you don’t want things to get any worse because of bad information.

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