Over a billion people from around the world use Android powered smart phones to create, communicate, share, and more – for both, work and pleasure. Yet, Android keeps making headlines for security weaknesses with each new version and subsequent update. In addition to the standard threats from hackers, phishers, crackers, data scrapers and surveillance programs, recurring threats to Android devices include spyware, malware, and adware.
According to the 2014 Sophos Mobile Security Threat Report, over 2000 new Android malware samples are discovered every day. A large part of these threats generate from third party app distribution platforms apart from Google Play. The following infographic shows the many ways in which security and privacy threats can impact Android users.
Image: Android Security Threats
(Source: Sophos Mobile Security Threat Report 2014)
After the failure of traditional mobile anti-virus software, and the repeated disclosure of vulnerabilities in the Android OS, mobile device users have begun seeking out Android VPN as a comprehensive solution to their diverse problems. The demand for Android VPN (illustrated in the Google Trends graph below) provides an excellent picture of the growing need for additional data security and online privacy amongst Android users.
Image: Search Trend Graph for ‘Android VPN’ and Forecast
(Source: Google Trends)
Features and Functions of Android VPN
While there are numerous benefits to using Android VPN, there are three major advantages that merit mentioning. These are the primary utilities that Android VPN services prioritize and provide when developing and distributing their apps.
While Android VPN was originally invented for data security and privacy related purposes, it is very popular amongst streaming lovers. The IP cloaking feature (discussed below) allows Android device users to access geo-restricted websites and app services – while ensuring untraceable online anonymity.
A critical function of Android VPN is to ensure complete online anonymity. This is made possible thanks to the IP cloaking that occurs when Android VPN is activated. The VPN server’s IP address cloaks your Android device’s primary IP address, and since online identities are connected to IP addresses, the IP address from the VPN server becomes your virtual identity – making your completely anonymous.
All Android VPN services and apps come with data encryption and tunneling functions. Data encryption helps ensure data security while tunneling helps guarantee data priority during transmission. Android users generally prefer to use the OpenVPN encryption protocol for a balance between data security and speed.
Additional Android Security & Privacy Measures
While using an Android VPN provides protection from most Android security and privacy threats, it would be naive to leave out additional measures that are trusted by Android security experts around the world.
- Do not install apps that demand access to more information than that which is necessary for the app to function
- Use mobile data instead of free WiFi HotSpots that may be unsecure and unencrypted
- Avoid connecting to Android devices that have been “rooted”
- Keep your Android OS updated
- Encrypt the data on your device with encryption software
- Only install apps from trusted and legitimately referred sources
- Use secure cloud sharing options to store and share big data
- Install trusted anti-malware and anti-virus apps. Run scans frequently.
Implementing these measures, in addition to using Android VPN, is all that you will (and can do) to ensure complete Android security and privacy – at work and at home. It is because of the same reason that organizations around the world are integrating the above-mentioned recommendations into their workplace mobile device policies.
Free vs Paid Android VPN Services
The best way to use an Android VPN is to subscribe to an Android VPN service. There are numerous free Android VPN services but none of them provide adequate security, speed, and stability. In fact, most free Android VPN services are built to collect and mine user data – which is eventually sold in the black market.
Paid Android VPN services and apps are built to provide and sustain data security and connectivity speed without compromising on device stability. The availability of tech support is an additional advantage, but perhaps none of the features of Android VPN are as important as that of accountability. In comparison to premium Android VPN, free Android VPN services provide zero accountability.
Selecting an Android VPN Service
While all of them promise the world, not all Android VPN are genuinely reliable. Before subscribing to an Android VPN service and downloading the app, make sure to closely examine the Android service on the following perimeters:
- VPN server spread and availability
- Android specific pricing and refund policies
- Compatible and bug-free App for Android device
- Multi-login support for use on multiple devices
- Free trial and/or money-back guarantee
- Setup guides, FAQs and trouble-shooting tutorials
- Tech support
Take your time in assessing different Android VPN services before you subscribe to one as almost all Android VPN services are built to ensure that the above features are provided but only a few might fit your specific needs.
In a Nutshell
Android VPN services are becoming increasingly popular, which is why VPN services are rolling out their Android apps while also giving users the option to manually configure VPN on their Android devices.
An Android VPN is now as undeniably important as Facebook or Skype. You will need it to secure your contacts, conversations and data – both personal and private. Having an Android VPN up and running on your Android device is now as necessary and as unquestionable as having Facebook or Skype.