With a plethora of virtual private network (VPN) providers to choose from, how can you decide which are secure?

TechRepublic’s Dan Patterson met with Andy Yen, CEO and founder of Protonmail, to discuss how VPNs work and how to tell if it’s safe to connect your device.

VPNs are most often used while traveling–in hotels, coffee shops, or anywhere with public Wi-Fi. “If you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network that you didn’t set up yourself, you don’t know who set it up,” Yen said. This can become dangerous, especially if a hacker setup the network.

SEE: Network security policy (Tech Pro Research)

VPNs help assure people they are using a secure network. It creates a private network with an encrypted tunnel between a person’s computer and the VPN server, so users have a secure connection to an trusted server.

For example, if a user is connected to a public Wi-Fi hotspot, which may be insecure, by tunneling traffic over a VPN, they can still use public Wi-Fi, and also have the comfort of knowing their data is secure and private.

When looking for a VPN provider, Yen suggests researching the company and making sure it is well-known and trustworthy. If you go to a website, and can’t find much information about the provider, you shouldn’t trust it, he said.

“You need to be very careful what VPN service that you actually pick, because a lot of these things promise to protect your data, but what they’re actually doing is stealing your data, stealing your browsing history, and then reselling that,” he said.

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