In an ideal world, installing a VPN on your iPhone would be enough to prevent any data security-related headaches. Unfortunately, not even the most secure VPNs for iOS are a catch-all solution against cyber threats. However, they make for a pretty decent starting point, which you can read about below. Oh, and be sure to stick around to see what you can do to cover your VPN’s “blind spots.”
What a VPN for iPhone Can Do for Your Security
The main aspect of any VPN is the ability to encrypt your data. In other words, to distort it in such a way that nobody could read it, even if an ill-intentioned outsider were to intercept it. Below you’ll find the three key ways VPN encryption’s got your back.
#1 Secure Your Data from Hackers
A clear majority of web traffic comes from mobile users nowadays. Social media, instant messaging, online shopping and banking, and anything else you can think of in the palm of your hand. And probably under a hacker’s scope at this very moment.
Anyone using man-in-the-middle attacks or other direct hacking techniques can do some real damage. Luckily, cyber attackers will only find an impenetrable wall if you decide to encrypt all your sensitive info with a VPN for iPhone.
#2 Protect You on Public Wi-Fi
Free public Wi-Fi is a blessing, especially when you’re on a limited data plan. But you know who else can access those public hotspots just as easily? You guessed it, hackers. The FBI recently put out a warning about the dangers of hotel Wi-Fi in the context of the pandemic. These dangers pretty much apply to any unsecured (read: password-less) networks out there – whether it’s at airports, coffee shops, etc.
We’ve created a separate section about this to warn you of a specific Wi-Fi-related threat called “Evil Twin” hotspots. In short, hackers can create fake hotspots that mimic the real thing – preying on people’s love of free Wi-Fi. Once you’re connected, the attacker pretty much has access to all your data.
Of course, if you use a VPN for iPhone, that data gets encrypted before it leaves your device. Just as before, the hacker will only see a stream of gibberish as he’s trying to record your traffic.
#3 Prevent Data Logging from Your ISP
Speaking of network traffic, did you know that your ISP considers your browsing and location data a valuable commodity? Advertisers will pay big money to know all your online habits, where you eat, where you shop, and so on. Just so they can target you with more irritating ads.
Fortunately, an iPhone VPN can prevent both your ISP and mobile carrier from seeing what you do online. Same goes for public Wi-Fi operators, who tend to be pretty intrusive with location-based ads.
What a VPN for iPhone Won’t Do
All that being said, here’s where an iPhone VPN can’t really do much (with some exceptions).
#1 Keep You Safe Against Phishing Attacks
Around April 2020, Google was blocking 18 million Covid scam emails every day. Unfortunately, cyber attackers still find ways to exploit peoples’ fears with regards to the virus. VPNs don’t have access to your emails (which would be a massive breach of privacy, regardless of the app) – so not much to do there.
However, some iOS VPN apps automatically prevent known phishing domains (i.e. fake scam websites) from opening. That way you don’t risk handing your sensitive logins or payment info on a silver platter. That’s great and all, but it’s not a perfect solution by any means. You should always make sure you’re on the right page before logging in or inputting any sensitive data.
#2 Prevent Malware Infections
While they are malware-proof for the most part, it’s not unheard of for iPhones to get viruses. A VPN is not anti-malware software, but you may find providers that block known malware domains from opening. That’s not what VPNs are built for, so we don’t fault them for it.
#3 Stop Other Apps from Spying On You
What’s the worst enemy of your privacy and security? At this point, most would answer hackers, government surveillance, or their ISP. All those answers are fine and dandy, but the apps on your iPhone may end up collecting even more data about you than you realize.
Don’t just tap “Allow” without a second thought whenever you install a new app. Check on your app permissions once in a while, and you may discover what is eating up all your mobile data. Oh, and what’s removing any shred of privacy offered by your iPhone VPN. After all, your VPN can’t prevent other apps from doing what you (involuntarily) asked them to do.
#4 Remain Unaffected by iOS Bugs
In March, Apple acknowledged an iOS 13 vulnerability that prevented any VPN from encrypting all traffic. This goes to show that VPNs aren’t immune to issues that can affect any other app. That being said, not using a VPN because of potential bugs is like not locking your car because they can be broken into through other means. Don’t take that chance.