Your privacy isn't safe. No matter what you're doing, companies are tracking your activities, and they know how to target you. If you're on public Wi-Fi, your data and privacy are open for business. However, there are ways to help prevent all of this. Encrypting your data will put you ahead of the game — or you might want to consider using an app like TunnelBear to create a VPN that will mask your location and IP address.
Why would you want to mask this information, other than to thwart provisioning such as country-wide website blocks? Simple... to gain an extra layer of privacy when browsing online. Plus, this can give you the added bonus of being able to get through country "firewalls" when you're on a business trip and want to, say, watch Netflix without restrictions. TunnelBear also aids users with limited data plans, because it lets them know when they've reached their limit (more on this in a bit). Best of all, TunnelBear is incredibly simple to use and offers a free account for 500 MB of data. If you require more than that, you can pay for one of these two plans:
- Giant Bear: $4.99/month — unlimited data on three desktops or devices
- Grizzly Bear: $49.99/year — same as Giant Bear, only a 17% savings
Purchasing a mobile-only plan is done in-app and the prices are only $2.99/month or $29.99/year.
TunnelBear is available for Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows.
Without further adieu, let's install and use TunnelBear.
To install TunnelBear, follow these steps:
- Open the Google Play Store on your Android device
- Search for TunnelBear
- Locate and tap the entry by TunnelBear, Inc
- Tap Install
- Read the permissions listing
- If the permissions listing is acceptable, tap Accept
Once the installation is completed, you'll find a launcher for TunnelBear on your home screen, your app drawer, or both. Tap the launcher to fire up the app.
The first thing you'll have to do is create a TunnelBear account (you can also create the account from the TunnelBear website). After you create the account, you'll be sent a verification email. Verify the account, and then log in with your email address and password that you used to sign up. When you first login, you'll be presented with a swipe-through introduction to TunnelBear. Swipe to the left until you've read through the entire welcome, and then tap the Get Tunneling! button.
From the main window (Figure A), you get a clear indication of your current location. TunnelBear defaults to off, so the location should be accurate.
TunnelBear running on a Verizon-branded HTC M8.
To switch TunnelBear on, simply tap the ON/OFF button. The first time that you use TunnelBear, you'll have to OK a warning (Figure B).
Do you trust TunnelBear? Check the box and tap OK.
Once you turn TunnelBear on, a bear will roar, the map will move to your "new location," and the app will indicate that the connection is secured. Dismiss the warning, and you're good to go.
By default, TunnelBear will mask your location within the borders of the current country. You can, however, select a different country by tapping the upward pointing arrow (next to the country listed at the bottom) and selecting the country that you'd like to show as your origination point (Figure C).
Selecting a new country for TunnelBear.
Once you've selected the new country, TunnelBear will automatically make the change.
You'll also see, at the bottom of the TunnelBear window, how much data you have remaining for the month. This is a handy way to know how much data you've used so that you can avoid overage charges, especially if you have a very limited data plan.
If you're looking for an incredibly easy way to help gain a bit more privacy from your online usage, give TunnelBear a go. With this handy tool, you'll trick the tricksters and keep your internet browsing a bit more secure.
Have you used TunnelBear or a similar privacy app? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.