How to Stop Your ISP From Seeing Your Browsing History

While it’s nice to think of your ISP as a non-existent yet useful entity operating in the background to serve you reliable internet access, the reality is quite different. ISP tracking, where ISPs record information about your identity and online activities, is common. The data collected is then stored, meaning it can be passed on to government officials or stolen by criminals. This ultimately means that your ISP could end up harvesting data for all kinds of third parties without your consent (or theirs).

The good news is, you don’t need to expose your information any longer. Using a quality VPN service will provide you with the ultimate security – it will ensure that not only is your data uncrackable, but no logs of you identity of activities are being stored. In this article, we will cover how to find the right VPN to always stay anonymous, give you our top provider recommendations for this task, and explain a little more about what a VPN can do for you.

What makes a good VPN?

A VPN can make your online activity and history inaccessible to anyone including your ISP. The VPN features listed below are especially important; keep them in mind while looking around.

  • Strong encryption – To hide your browsing history and other important information from ISPs or, even worse, cybercriminals, opt for a provider that uses military-grade 256-bit AES encryption.
  • Zero-logging policy – A top-quality VPN provider will employ a solid no-logging policy that covers everything from timestamps to browsing history. This will ensure that no logs on your data are being stored and, consequently, passed on to interested third parties.
  • Device availability – Your ISP can track your online activity whether you are browsing from your smartphone, tablet, PC, or game console. To protect your information no matter where you are surfing the web from, choose a provider with software for multiple platforms.
  • Other security features – When it comes to hiding your browsing history and other data, the most important thing is security. A built-in DNS leak test will ensure that none of your data requests are routed through your ISP. An automatic kill switch will shut down your internet if you ever lose connection. Look for features like these to

Recommended VPNs for hiding your browsing history from ISPs

Here, we present our top five recommended VPNs proven to lock down your privacy, and hide your browsing history from your ISP:

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is best known for its high speed, but it’s also robust on security.

The provider is based in British Virgin Islands, making it exempt from the Five, Nine and Fourteen eye surveillance agreements between major countries. In a nutshell, this implies that your data will not be a part of intelligence investigations and exchanges.

Technologically, ExpressVPN uses 256-bit AES encryption, which would take the world’s strongest supercomputer quadrillions of years to crack. Specific protocols include UDP and TCP, as well as SSTP, which is known for beating hardcore censorship blocks over HTTPS port 443. The provider’s no-logging policy covers all data including your browsing history, so your ISP won’t be able to get their hands on this sort of information at any point.

Security aside, ExpressVPN lives up to its name due to its speed and power. With 2,000+ servers in 94+ countries, this server network is one of the largest in the industry and is constantly growing. This will allow you to establish fast, low latency connections, and get you an IP from almost any location in the world.

ExpressVPN places no limitations on bandwidth or speed caps, therefore it’s ideal for everyday use. This means that at no point will you have to browse with an unencrypted connection and, in turn, reveal your information to your ISP. In addition, ExpressVPN lets you connect up to three devices at once, helping you cover desktop and mobile devices.

Want to learn more about ExpressVPN’s performance and security? Read our full ExpressVPN review.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN is a security-focused VPN service that protects your browsing history (amongst other data) from being exposed to your ISP.

Firstly, the service uses 256-bit AES encryption, which is essentially impenetrable by brute force hacking. Specific encryption protocols include the super-secure OpenVPN’s UDP and TCP, as well as the incredibly fast L2TP.

Secondly, NordVPN’s no-logging policy is considered to be one of the best in the industry – no records of traffic, IP addresses, and browsing history can ever be traced back to your identity or email address. This means that not even your ISP can get their hands on your personal online activities. Specialty servers include Double VPN nodes that route your data through two layers of encryption for extra security.

Additional security features include an automatic kill switch, which turns off your internet should you ever lose your connection. 

Despite the complexity of its security features, NordVPN is both powerful and easy to use. To start things off, NordVPN has the biggest server network in the industry consisting of 5,100+ nodes in 62 countries. This also contributes to the speed of the connection, as well as the number of option you’ll have when it comes to getting a new IP address. Furthermore, the user interface is simple and attractive across all devices, with most features available within just one click. NordVPN is available on most operating systems and devices, including Mac OS, Linux, Android, iOS, RaspberryPi, and even numerous game consoles.

Read more in our full review of NordVPN.

3. CyberGhost

CyberGhost combines ease of use with top-tier security features. Unlike most services that you’ll need to set up manually, CyberGhost allows you to choose from six simple configuration profiles upon launch. These include “surf anonymously”, “protect my WiFi connection”, and “choose my VPN server”. Once you choose a profile, the VPN will apply automatic settings depending on what’s best for that specific case.

You can further tweak these profiles by replacing toggles with each other. These performance toggles include “block online tracking” and “automated HTTPS redirect”, which is particularly great for preventing your data from getting into the hands of ISPs.

Security-wise, CyberGhost uses 256-bit AES encryption to ensure your data is always protected. Specific encryption protocols include UDP, TCP, and L2TP/IPSec, which is known to be particularly excellent for streaming and downloading. CyberGhost’s immaculate no logging policy includes everything from browsing history to timestamps and IP addresses; it doesn’t even store your email address.

If you are using the service on desktop, you have additional features like a kill switch and an online tracking blocker, which adds additional security layers to your entire online experience. CyberGhost has dedicated apps for Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android, and even Router and RaspberryPi.

Want to learn more? Check out our full review of CyberGhost.

4. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN may have a modest server network compared to its competitors (totalling 100+ nodes across 60+ countries), but as indicated by the name, its focus on privacy is unparalleled. The provider uses AES-256 encryption with 2048-bit keys to protect your data on the highest level possible. This makes your data practically impossible to crack whether it is attempted by government officials, ISPs, or professional and well-trained criminals. Furthermore, this is backed by one of the best no-logging policies in the business – without logs, there is no way for anyone (including ISPs) to get their hands on your data or online activities, no matter where you are located in the world, even China.

In addition to PrivateVPN’s security, the service offers some elevated basic features. Firstly, the provider places no limitations on speed, bandwidth, or server switches. This means that you can use this service at all times, further minimizing the risk of your data getting into the wrong hands. Moreover, PrivateVPN supports all operating system platforms and allows for six simultaneous connections. Not only can you enjoy your new internet ‘bodyguard’, but have your family start using a VPN, too. If you are new to the entire VPN world, you have the option to do a free remote setup, which will take a few moments and require minimal effort on your end.

See more features in our full PrivateVPN review.

5. PureVPN

PureVPN is one of the best available VPN providers at this price point. The set up process is incredibly simple, whether you are installing the service on Linux, Mac OS, Windows, iOS, Android, or any other operating system or device. Additionally, PureVPN has desktop and mobile applications, as well as browser extensions and apps for routers, TV devices, and game consoles. PureVPN also provides its users with a solid server network of 2,000+ servers in 140 countries, which gives you the option to connect to an IP address in virtually any location. This, together with unlimited bandwidth and server switches, makes PureVPN a great choice if you’re looking for a service to use regularly. Furthermore, you have the option to connect five devices simultaneously, so you can stay online with all the devices in your home.

In addition to the basic features above, PureVPN is highly effective in protecting your privacy. For starters, the provider safeguards your data with 256-bit AES encryption, which makes it practically impossible for anyone to access your data logs. In addition, PureVPN’s Ozone technology maintains your security and protects your identity and device 24/7. This is a feature that almost no other VPN provider has included in their service. PureVPN also comes with WebRTC Leak Protection, which will ensure that your IP address is never exposed to your ISP.

How can a VPN help you stop ISP tracking?

VPNs are incredible, all-in-one cybersecurity solutions. There are two main methods by which your VPN works to lock down your privacy online. The first is by encryption, which veils each packet of data running between your device and the VPN server in an unbreakable layer of cryptography. When viewed by someone else (like a hacker) on your network, or say, your ISP, your data stream appears as a jumbled mess of unintelligible nonsense. This includes both the contents and metadata of your data packets, thereby hiding both your identity and activity with one amazing method.

In addition to encryption, a VPN will route your data through one of its dedicated servers. These can be located anywhere in the world, and lend you an IP address from the country they’re based in. What’s more, each and every user connected to this server will share this IP with you, so even if your ISP sees your encrypted traffic running to this server, they won’t know whose outgoing requests are being directed where.

Is it legal to hide from your ISP?

In most countries, the answer is a resounding “yes”. Your ISP has no inherent right to spy on you, just because you pay for their service. That being said, VPN usage itself can be seen as suspect in more repressive regimes. However, the beauty of your VPN is that it covers your tracks, and makes it all but impossible for anyone to point the finger at you for using in. Even in these situations, businesses and government agencies will often transmit encrypted data, blurring the lines in enforcing said VPN bans. So long as your VPN maintains a zero-logging policy (and it really, really should), there’s little practical method by which court authorities can support claims made against you by your ISP. In an uncertain landscape, where Internet rights are under attack, a good VPN is your steadfast ally against repression and censorship.

Will free VPNs do the trick?

When it comes to privacy, free VPNs often do worse than simply fall short. While it’s bad enough to promise end-to-end security, only to leak data or keep logs, there’s ample evidence of so-called “free” providers exacting their toll from users by way of harvesting their personal data. They often resell this data to advertisers, who use it to target you with ads, but there’s no real regulation in place to stop these transactions from happening with less trustworthy entities than ad-spammers. For just a few dollars a month, you can get the privacy you desire AND the peace of mind that should accompany it. Anything else is merely paying lip-service to digital privacy, and has no business handling your sensitive data.

Conclusion

Now that we have provided you with all the information you need to carefully select your VPN provider, you are good to go. Not only will you make sure that your ISP is not tracking you while you are browsing, but you’ll be able to enjoy a myriad of other advantages that come with using a VPN. For example, why not access all sorts of libraries on Netflix without leaving the comfort of your villa?

Take a moment to share your experiences with us, and leave a comment down below!

Read How to Stop Your ISP From Seeing Your Browsing History by George P.H. on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to Watch UK TV Channels from Anywhere in the World

With amazing streaming services and TV channels like the BBC, Sky, and UKTV, there is no doubt that Great Britain has some of the best programming in the world. However harsh geo-restrictions and censorship blocks mean that anyone living or visiting outside the UK cannot access said channels.

Luckily, today there are VPN services able to bypass these limitations with a good degree of reliability. Not only will you be able to sidestep restrictions that are a result of your geographical location, but your identity and online information will be safer than ever before. In this article, we will discuss how to pick the best VPN for the UK, provide you with mini-reviews of our top VPN providers, and explain many more ways in which you can use a VPN provider.

Choosing the best VPN for unblocking and watching UK channels from abroad

All providers claim to offer the fastest available connections and the best security features, but what should you look for to unblock UK channels abroad? To help you answer that question, here are some key features you should be looking for .

  • Fast connections – VPNs inevitably slow down your internet connection. This can be particularly annoying when you are streaming or downloading content. In order to enjoy watching UK-based channels anywhere in the world, opt for a provider with good connection speeds and no limitations on bandwidth or server switching.
  • Servers in the UK – A VPN will help you get a British IP address, but only if the VPN provider has servers in the country. Look for them specifically.
  • Encryption – In order to protect your privacy and keep your information safe from government and ISP snooping, you’ll need a service with military-grade encryption, such as 256-bit AES. Each VPN provider on our list uses this top-of-the-line encryption to grant its users reliable security.
  • Logging policy – From your ISP to the government and even other interested third parties, anyone can get their hands on your data if they really want to. In order to avoid your activity logs and personal information from getting in the hands of the wrong people, you’ll need a VPN with a solid zero-logging policy.
  • Device compatibility – In order to enjoy UK programming, make sure that the provider you choose has a wide range of device availability, meaning that it has dedicated apps for as many operating systems and devices as possible.

Our top VPN recommendations for bypassing regional restrictions

Having done our market research, we have narrowed it down to these five VPN services. The providers below not only provide a reliable and fast connection, allowing you to seamlessly watch UK TV channels, but prioritize your security and privacy throughout the entire experience.

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is our top VPN recommendation for watching UK programming abroad. The reason is that it combines speed – its namesake – with outstanding security.

First, let’s talk about speed. With a server network of 2,000+ proxy servers in 94 countries, you’ll be able to connect to practically any location in the world, including the UK, quickly and easily. The servers themselves are powerful enough to offer buffer-free streaming, fast downloads, and seamless browsing. All of this makes ExpressVPN perfect for streaming video files.

ExpressVPN is very easy to use and is available on all major operating systems and devices, including Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and game consoles and routers.

Although the provider mostly focuses on speed, it’s just as advanced in its security. Your data will always be secured with top-of-the-line 256-bit AES encryption. Furthermore, ExpressVPN employs one of the best no-logging policies on the market, with no logs stored on all traffic, DNS requests, IP addresses, and even browsing history.

Other important security features include an automatic kill switch and DNS leak prevention features, which ensure that should you ever get disconnected, your internet will be shut down so that your data is never unencrypted.

Want to learn more about ExpressVPN’s range of features? Read our full ExpressVPN review.

BEST FOR STREAMING: ExpressVPN is our #1 choice for watching UK TV abroad. It helps stream from UK websites without slowing your connection down. Get 49% off the yearly plan, plus 3 extra months free.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN is, first and foremost, known for the biggest server network in the industry comprising of 5,200+ servers in 62 countries, 674 of which are in the United Kingdom. This level of server availability means you’ll be spoiled for choice in optimizing your VPN connection.

Furthermore, NordVPN offers a variety of speciality servers which are appealing to advanced users. These include anti-DDoS, double VPN, and dedicated IP addresses which help beat shared IP blacklists that channels use to block foreign streamers. Other specialty servers include obfuscated servers that hide the fact you are using a VPN. The advantage to these is that you can stream from abroad even if you’re in a country with strict censorship laws, like the UAE, without anyone knowing.

The fact that NordVPN is just as strong on security as it is on unblocking streaming is also impressive. The provider uses 256-bit AES encryption as a default – a level of security that even the world’s strongest supercomputer couldn’t beat in a million years, except through sheer luck.

Encryption protocols include OpenVPN’s UDP and TCP, as well as the super fast L2TP which is ideal for streaming and downloading. To further protect your data, NordVPN employs one of the most complete zero-logging policies in the industry, ensuring that no logs are stored on traffic, IP addresses, timestamps, bandwidth, and even browsing history. This will not only help you beat hardcore censorship, but will keep you and your data anonymous at all times.

Read more about NordVPN’s service in our full review of NordVPN.

3. CyberGhost

CyberGhost is a perfect choice for people who want a hassle-free way to enjoy their favourite content from anywhere. The provider has dedicated apps for a wide variety of devices and operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS, Android, Linux, and many more. Once you download and launch the app, you will be presented with six simple configuration profiles, including “unblock streaming” and “unblock basic websites”. These configuration profiles automatically apply the appropriate settings for the case, so you won’t need to set anything up manually. Additionally, you can further modify these profiles by suing a set of easy toggles. These toggles include “block ads” and “extra speed”, both of which are ideal for providing you with a seamless streaming experience. The end result is that you can configure the specific connection you need without having to worry about using manual settings.

In addition to being easy to use, CyberGhost is powerful. With a server network of 3,100+ servers in 59 countries, including 392 in the UK, you can be certain that you will have a wide range of connection options at all times. You can even choose servers close to specific cities if you’re tuning into local programming from, say, the Midlands or the Manchester area. Furthermore, CyberGhost gives you 5 simultaneous connections, so whether you are traveling, working, or relaxing at home, you’ll be able to enjoy your favourite films and TV shows stress-free.

Learn more about in our full review of CyberGhost.

4. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN is one of our top recommendations for streaming for several reasons. Despite the fact that the server network is smaller than other providers on our list, consisting of 100+ nodes in 57 countries, each of these nodes are extremely powerful both in terms of bandwidth and processing power. Furthermore, the distribution of said servers means that you can get virtually any IP you want, including UK ones. That, combined with an easy and free remote setup will have you enjoying any UK channel you love with no hassle or effort. Even better, PrivateVPN allows six simultaneous connections, meaning you can share it with other household members and multiple devices. There are no limitations on bandwidth, server switches, or speed, meaning you and the rest of your home can stream UK services to your heart’s content.

PrivateVPN, true to its name, is also very secure. The service uses AES-256 encryption with 2048-bit keys, which keeps your data reliably protected at all times. This includes interest coming from the government, ISPs, or cybercriminals, which makes it a solid choice for ultimate privacy. Throw in one of the best no-logging policies out there and you can be confident that there is no way for any interested third party to get their hands on your data without you handing it over. This is true even in China because PrivateVPN uses the SOCKS5 protocol that was made for the location.

Check out the full PrivateVPN review.

5. PureVPN

PureVPN is a solid choice if you live in a country with strict censorship laws. It provides security features above the industry’s gold standard at absolutely no additional cost or effort from your side. The provider uses military-grade 256-bit encryption to protect your data. This is bolstered by the proprietary Ozone technology that adds another layer of protection to your data, device, and identity 24/7. Rounding out the core security features is a near-impeccable zero-logging policy that stops governments and corporations from knowing you’re streaming from outside the UK.

Of course, PureVPN is also a great choice for streaming and watching UK content. With 2,000+ servers in 140+ countries, you have the option to connect to a vast number of Island servers and watch whatever you like. Bandwidth is unlimited meaning you can download, browse, and stream worry-free. In addition, there are dedicated streaming servers that are optimized for fast connections, providing you with a seamless viewing experience. All the servers in PureVPN’s network support 1Gbit connection speed, which means you will never experience any lagging or buffering delays. PureVPN is available as a mobile application, browser extension, and has dedicated apps even for TV devices and routers.

Why are UK channels blocked internationally?

Virtually all British television channels are blocked outside of the UK. In a nutshell, broadcasters simply don’t have international copyrights that would enable them to air the content internationally. From advertising slots to the actual programmes, harsh contracts with copyright holders and advertisers are agreed upon prior to the content airing. This means that if these third parties don’t gain profit from broadcasting or advertising internationally, it’s simply not worth for them to do it.

Having said that, Great Britain provides us with some of the best content out there. From BBC to Channel 4, some of the biggest hit shows are hidden behind a wall of contracts and limitations. The good news is that a quality VPN service will not only enable you to enjoy this content wherever you are in the world, it will overcome even the toughest VPN blocks and censorship restrictions. This means that without having to leave the comfort of your home, office, or hotel room, you’ll be able to enjoy everything from “Eastenders” to “Don’t Tell The Bride”, right out of the UK.

Please note: Addictive Tips in no way condones piracy or accessing illegal streams. It is entirely up to you to ensure that you are using your VPN software in accordance with your country’s laws. What you do with our advice is ultimately your responsibility.

How to unblock UK streams anywhere

So you’ve settled on the right VPN provider, great! The hard part is over. All you’ve got to do now is set your software up to actually unblock UK programming. While each provider has its own variations, the general process of doing so looks like this:

  1. Sign up with your VPN – Simply click on one of our links for a hefty discount, which will take you to the signup page. Choose your plan, create your user credentials, then process payment.
  2. Download and install your VPN – Once you’ve got your subscription set up, you’ll need to download the appropriate VPN software for your device. Most providers will point you directly to a download link, so keep an eye on your inbox. Once downloaded, simply install the software as you would any other application.
  3. Sign into your VPN software – When you signed up, you created login credentials including a username and password. Enter them here. Once you’ve done this, the VPN will typically automatically launch.
  4. Connect to a UK server – Upon launch, most VPNs automatically connect to the closest/fastest server available. But, for purposes of unblocking UK content, you’ll need to manually configure this connection. Search for your software’s server list, type “United Kingdom” into the search field, and pick one of the servers that populates the list. Depending on which provider you went with, you might be able to see performance statistics for that particular server at a glance. Pick the fastest or least populated one first, then go down the list if that one doesn’t work to connect you to your desired stream.
  5. Confirm your IP address – This step is optional, but recommended. Go to ipleak.net. It will automatically detect where you’re connecting. If the above steps were successful, you should see “United Kingdom” displayed, along with your UK IP address.
  6. Connect to your favorite UK stream – Once you have your VPN connected to a working UK server, you’ll have free rein to consume your favorite content from that country. Just make sure your VPN is running BEFORE you try to connect, otherwise you’ll likely be met with a geo-blocking message.

Can I use a free VPN to watch UK TV from abroad?

When conducting your research on VPN providers, you will certainly come across some free services. As tempting as they may sound, there is always going to be a chance that the security features are simply not strong enough to bypass regional and VPN blocks. Even if you do manage to gain access to UK content with a free VPN service, there are other drawbacks to keep in mind.

One of the major problems with free VPN service providers (one that has happened one too many times) is that not only they are slower and less reliable, but they put your information under risk of being exposed. Since free VPN providers are still trying to run a business, they need to get their profits elsewhere. Often, these come from selling your information to the highest bidder, which could end up jeopardising your privacy and, in turn, your security. Furthermore, you won’t have access to such a wide server network, which means that your options in terms of speed and geographical location may be limited.

Conclusion

To conclude, whether you are living within England or not, British television is worth watching. Unfortunately, this content is restricted to people located within the country, and if you are travelling abroad, you won’t be able to enjoy any of these channels. Luckily, a VPN not only keeps you protected online, but helps you beat tough censorship blocks that stand between you and UK-based TV channels. Any one of our providers will ensure that your internet experience is safe, quick, and most importantly, consistent.

What are you most looking forward to watching? Let us know in the comments below.

Read How to Watch UK TV Channels from Anywhere in the World by George P.H. on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to test your VPN security for leaks

A VPN is arguably the best tool you can use to bypass regional restrictions and beat censorship blocks. It works by masking your real IP address and making your computer appear as though it’s in a different geographical location. This, in turn, conceals your online activities and even your identity. Unfortunately, even the best VPNs can fail to maintain your privacy due to problems like IP leaks and DNS leaks. This, in turn, can result in your data getting exposed to third parties.

In this article, we will discuss how to pick the best VPN for your security, give you our provider recommendations, and explain how to test your VPN security for these breaches.

How to pick the safest VPN service

A VPN service can help you protect your online identity and real IP address. However, in order to do so reliably, you will need a quality VPN provider with strong security features. To help your search, we’ve listed some of the most important ones below:

  • Strong encryption – if encryption of your VPN provider isn’t strong, it makes no difference if your IP is hidden or not. Pick a provider with military-grade encryption, such as 256-bit AES, to keep your data, device, and identity protected at all times.
  • Zero-logging policy – some VPN providers, especially freeones, tend to store your information. You don’t want this to happen because the government, ISPs, and cyber criminals can all potentially access it. Look for strong zero-logging policies instead.
  • Server network –  when picking a VPN provider, you want them to have as many proxy servers in as many countries as possible. This sort of server availability will give you more options when it comes to IP addresses, which will make you even more untraceable online.
  • Security extras – A built-in DNS leak test will allow you to make sure there are no data requests routed through your ISP. An automatic kill switch will operate at all times and ensure that you don’t accidentally reveal your IP address or browse with an unencrypted connection. Features like these are valuable and should be considered as a plus when you’re looking for a provider.

Our top VPN provider recommendations for security

In order to make VPN security testing as simple and hassle-free as possible, you’ll need a top-of-the-line VPN provider to increase your online privacy in the first place. Below are our top VPN provider recommendations in terms of privacy and security.

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is our #1 choice due to its strong combination of speed and security. The provider uses 256-bit AES encryption to protect your data and identity at all times. Specific protocols include OpenVPN’s cutting-edge UDP and TCP, as well as SSTP, which helps beat even the most hardcore censorship blocks. Keys are so tough supercomputers can’t crack them except through sheer luck.

ExpressVPN’s no-logging policy is considered to be one of the best in the industry. It ensures that no logs of any data, from IP addresses to browsing history and DNS requests, are stored. In addition, the holding company is based in the British Virgin Islands. As a result, your data cannot be passed on between governments under the Five, Nine and Fourteen Eyes surveillance agreements.

Extra security features include a built-in DNS leak test and an automatic kill switch, all of which are essential in maintaining your privacy.

Alongside its strong security, ExpressVPN, as indicated by the name, is extremely fast. With a network of 2,000+ servers in 94 countries, you will have a wide range of connection options and IP addresses to get. Moreover, having so many servers means you won’t have to compete for bandwidth with other users.

Since ExpressVPN doesn’t place any limitations on traffic or server switching, and you can enjoy fast streaming, low latency connections, and seamless browsing all day, every day – on as many as 3 devices simultaneously. ExpressVPN is available on all major operating systems and devices.

Pros

  • SPECIAL OFFER: 3 months free (49% off – link below)
  • Reliable and fast connections
  • Very simple and easy to use
  • Strict no-logging policy
  • Great customer service via chat.
Cons

  • Expensive month-to-month plan.

Read more about this provider’s impressive features in our full ExpressVPN review.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN focuses on providing its users with bulletproof security that helps prevent DNS and IP leaks.

Firstly, the service uses 256-bit AES encryption, which, in a nutshell, generates more key combinations than there are atoms in the universe. Encryption protocols include UDP and TCP, as well as SSTP, PPTP, and L2TP, which is particularly fast.

Secondly, NordVPN has one of the most complete no-logging policies in the industry. It ensures that no logs on IP addresses, bandwidth, and browsing history are stored, making your activity logs invisible to third parties.

Extra security features that will help you prevent leaks include a DNS leak test feature, an automatic kill switch, and speciality servers, including “double VPN” which takes your data through two levels of encryption.

While NordVPN is one of our top recommendations for VPN security, it also happens to be the largest server network in the industry. With 5,000+ proxy servers in 62 countries, you have a large number of IPs to choose from, as well as fast connections and low latencies. NordVPN has a single-click interface when it comes to most things, so everything from downloading it to setting it up and using it is a breeze.

Furthermore, NordVPN is compatible with all major operating systems and devices, so you can enjoy it whether you are at home on your PC, on the go with your smartphone, or even watching your Smart TV.

Pros

  • Optimized servers for unblocking Netflix
  • Different IP addresses aervers
  • Zero leaks: IP/DNS/WebRTC
  • Strict zero logs policy on both traffic and metadata
  • Customer Service (24/7 Chat).
Cons

  • Some servers can have average d/l speeds
  • They can take 30 days to process refunds.

Check out our full review of NordVPN for more details on the service.

INCREDIBLE VALUE: NordVPN has an immense server network and ironclad security. Save 66% on the 2-year plan with our special offer.

3. CyberGhost

CyberGhost‘s security features start with military-grade 256-bit AES encryption. The keys this technology uses would take the world’s strongest supercomputer millions of years to crack, meaning it’s virtually impossible for anyone to see what you do online. Furthermore, the provider’s no-logging policy is immaculate and logs virtually nothing; not even your e-mail address.

If anyone tries to see what you do online, they’ll have a very hard time doing it. If you are browsing on a desktop computer, you get some cool extras like a kill switch, a connection guard, and a DNS leak test, all of which help make sure you really safe.

Security aside, CyberGhost is incredibly easy to use. Not only does it take a few minutes to set up, but the colourful, minimalist display makes it fun to use every single day.

After launching, you can choose from six simple pre-configured profiles, including “protect my WiFi connection” and “surf anonymously”, both of which increase your online protection. These profiles apply automatic settings based on your internet needs, so you won’t need to do any manual setup. You can further customize each profile with simple toggles like “block malicious websites” and “block online tracking”. This means that you can access industry-leading security features with an intuitive interface that only asks you for a few simple choices.

Pros

  • Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) torrenting allowed
  • Located in Romania (out of 14 eyes)
  • Zero logs and good privacy features
  • 45-day money-back guarantee.
Cons

  • Doesn’t unblock all streaming services.

Read the full review of CyberGhost to learn about the service’s features.

4. PrivateVPN

As indicated by the name, PrivateVPN prioritizes your online protection and security. The provider uses the industry’s gold standard AES-256 encryption with 2048-bit keys to ensure that your data always remains anonymous. Furthermore, it protects you from the government, ISPs, and potentially even cybercriminals who want to violate your privacy.

PrivateVPN’s no-logging policy is also considered one of the best out there, so unless you hand over your own information to an interested third-party, there is no way to get a hold of your information or online activities.

The impressive thing about PrivateVPN is that even if you are located in a country with low internet freedom, like China, you will still be granted with top-of-the-line security features. This is because PrivateVPN employs the SOCKS5 protocol, made especially for China.

Though PrivateVPN’s server network is more modest, with 100+ servers in 59 countries, each node is surprisingly robust, especially in terms of bandwidth and reliability. Furthermore, PrivateVPN has no restrictions on bandwidth, server switching, or speed, so you’ll be able to make use of this impeccable service for as long as you wish to have your security protected.

If you are new to the VPN world and want to make the process as simple as possible, PrivateVPN will even do a free remote setup for you to help you with the installation. The provider also allows six simultaneous connections at once, leaving no room for security errors or breaches.

Check out our full PrivateVPN review to learn more.

READERS ONLY: PrivateVPN lets you use the web freely and securely with powerful privacy provisions. Sign up for a yearly plan at 65% off, and get an extra month free.

5. PureVPN

PureVPN is a top-tier VPN service that will grant you with ultimate security at a very reasonable price.

To start with, PureVPN has an impressive network of 2,000+ servers in 140+ countries, which will enable you to get an IP address from virtually any location in the world.

In terms of protecting your data, PureVPN uses 256-bit AES encryption, making it impossible for any third parties to see or make sense of your data. Furthermore, the provider has a feature no other service employs – Ozone technology, which is an add-on that protects your device, data, and identity, 24/7. Other important security features include an internet kill switch that ensures your privacy remains intact at all times, as well as built-in a DNS leak test.

PureVPN is also excellent on customer-centric features and extras. 24-hour live chat support is available in case you should ever run into a problem, security-related or otherwise. You get access to all the available servers no matter which subscription you choose, and there are no limits on traffic or bandwidth so you can use the Internet as much as you want. PureVPN’s app is very easy to use, and you can set up pretty much anything with just a click or two.

PureVPN is available on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, routers, gaming consoles, and even smart TVs.

Checking for an IP leak

When using a VPN service, there is one step you can do that will, first and foremost, verify whether you are having an IP leak or not. The way it’s done is the page simulates different interruptions and checks how well the VPN operates when the tunnel is active and stable. Once you set up and turn on your VPN app, make sure to run this test prior to browsing. This will ensure that your online data is not exposed before you even manage to start your online session, and in turn, protect you from the surprise of learning that your VPN was not working properly.

In order to run the test, visit ipleak.net through your browser. This page will run an automatic IP address lookup test, meaning that it will show you which location your computer is currently ‘set up’ to be. Give the page a few moments to load and then have a look at the location listed under “your IP addresses”. If you see the IP address that you manually connected to through your VPN, you are ready to go. If, however, you still see your real IP address, then there is an IP leak and you will need to contact your VPN provider to resolve the issue.

How else do I test my VPN for leaks?

DNS leaks

If you are not using a VPN, your ISP typically checks the DNS – a process in which URLs are converted into numerical IP addresses. This can be an issue because your DNS requests are essentially text logs of your entire browsing history, a privacy risk that we try to avoid by using a VPN service in the first place. The reason for the risk is that your ISP can then easily access these logs and record all your online activities, data which can then be sold to advertisers, social media platforms, and even the government or criminals. While all our top recommended VPN providers provide DNS leak protection, some don’t, and this is when it becomes risky.

In order to test your DNS, there are several websites you can visit. For example, www.perfect-privacy.com is known to be one of the best in identifying leaks when other websites don’t see any issues. Furthermore, it will provide you with a detailed explanation of why DNS leaks happen and what you can do to prevent them.

WebRTC leaks

If you, like most users, are using Firefox, Chrome, or Opera as a browser, WebRTC leaks and how to prevent them is something you should be familiar with. WebRTC is something that is usually enabled in these browsers by default, and the issue is, in a nutshell, related to the vulnerability of the browser. While our recommended VPNs are usually protected from this, it’s important to know what to do with a WebRTC leak and how to prevent them.

To test your connection for a WebRTC leak, there are several websites you can use. Once again, www.perfect-privacy.com is a great tool for seeing whether you have a WebRTC leak, as well as getting a detailed report of what this issue is and why it may have occurred. Another way to test for WebRTC leaks is using the same website like the one for IP leaks – htttp://www.ipleak.net. However, this will give you less useful information on WebRTC leaks and solutions for them.

Conclusion

To conclude, testing your VPN security is essential for various reasons. Firstly, privacy and security are one of the main reasons VPNs are useful. They will allow you to protect your online data, remain anonymous online, and ensure that your ISP isn’t storing information on your activities. In order to use this range of benefits in the most reliable way, you need to ensure that nothing is interrupting your connection. This includes IP leaks, DNS leaks, and WebRTC leaks. Most importantly, however, make sure to choose a VPN provider reliable enough so that these tests will be nothing beyond a formality.

What are your experiences with any one of our recommended VPN providers? Leave us your comments down below!

Read How to test your VPN security for leaks by George P.H. on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How Do Employers Pre-Screen Prospective Employees? Here’s How to Prepare

Background checks are an everyday part of life for any corporation. Unfortunately, finding out what employers might see when they’re pre-screening you can be difficult. Professional services are restricted to corporations and agencies, and accessing them as an individual is nigh impossible. So how can you know what your prospective employer sees when they pre-screen you?

Well, one way is to use paid online services that help replicate the kind of report your interviewer might have in front of them. In this article, we’ll list some of the best services you can access, what is and isn’t legal when it comes to pre-employment screens, and which specific features and data sources you should look for. We’ll start with the latter.

Is pre-screening legal?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) governs jobseekers’ rights. According to this document, an employer can only run a background check after getting permission from a prospective employee. Moreover, if a hiring decision is made based on the background check, the prospect needs to be informed of the source of the information. If that source isn’t a certified, regulation-compliant background checking authority, an employer can get in trouble with the law for using it. Compliance with the FCRA is very important here; even a small departure from their rules can result in fines, penalties, and other punitive measures.

Having said all that, pre-screening certainly isn’t illegal in and of itself. In fact, it’s key to understand that background checks can help you avoid legal trouble. For example, let’s say your business serves consumers or other businesses. If an employee somehow ends up harming other people through their actions, your business could be liable for those damages. If it’s discovered that you failed to run a background check and hired someone with a history of negligence or malicious intent, you could end up facing very tough lawsuits. In other words, background checks aren’t just legal; they’re necessary. What matters is that they’re done using approved services and in compliance with FCRA regulations.

Important note for employers

As an employer, it is critical that you go through the proper channels to conduct any pre-screening. The FCRA strictly prohibits the use of unregulated consumer-grade background checking services to directly inform a hiring decision. Even the background checking services mentioned in this article warn against this–we recommend them only to give prospective employees a way to understand their own histories, and prepare for their interviews accordingly. If you are an employer, seek out FCRA-compliant background checking services only.

What information comes up on pre-screening tests?

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If you’re going through an interview process, you may want to know what comes up on a pre-screening test. The answer is, “it varies”. Virtually all employers and organizations go through a few basic tests first. These include the identity check, which helps confirm that a person is who they say they are. This is a staple included in virtually every pre-screening checklist. Equally important are criminal record checks. These help verify that a person doesn’t have a criminal past that points to problematic on-the-job behavior. It’s not allowed to discriminate against prospects based on time served and prior convictions – but if criminal records indicate someone may be unsuitable because of their character, that’s fair game.

Beyond these, there are 2 more tests that come up on any background check. These are employment verification checks and education history checks. The first helps make sure that a person did the work they say they did, work in the organizations indicated, etc. It’s an important way for employers to verify who someone is in corporate terms – and given that this is one of the most frequently falsified parts of any resume, it’s almost guaranteed to come up in any check. Much of the same is true for education histories. These are frequently falsified.

To make sure an applicant has the qualifications and degrees they claim, agencies and employers do one of two things. First, they contact instututions directly to check someone’s credentials. Second, they pay to access special databases that have lists of academic achievements. The end result is that both educational and work histories and qualifications come up on most screens.

What can applicants facing pre-screening do to prepare?

Knowledge is power. By gaining a clear overview of your own record, you can enter into pre-employment screening with greater confidence. After all, knowing which challenges you’ll face ahead of time can be crucial to your success. Try running a background check on yourself for a glimpse into what might show up on your pre-employment screen. In searching for a service, you’ll want to keep these features in mind:

  • Search speed – if you need background checks, search speed is key. You don’t want your results come in halfway through an application or interview process; look for speedy services.
  • Research quality – when it comes to background checks, you need to be able to rely on the quality of your results. Make sure that the service you use draws on reliable sources.
  • Reports – background check reports vary from short to very long. You want a service that manages to make reports of any length readable, scannable, and pleasing to look at. This is especially important if you’ll be presenting the reports to multiple individuals.
  • Custom searches – corporate needs vary from organization to organization. It’s important that the service you chooses lets you make the specific searches you need. This means looking for customization; for example, you want to be able to opt out of financial checks if they’re irrelevant to you in your upcoming job application.
  • Dashboard functionality – look for online dashboards that make it easy to search, look at reports, etc. A few seconds’ difference can add up when you’re a regular user.
  • Mobile apps – a mobile app lets you make searches on the go and look at reports no matter where you are. Needless to say, providers with iOS and Android apps are best – but modern responsive websites can look and feel like apps, which makes them a fair replacement.
  • Customer support – two things matter when it comes to support. First, the ability to help quickly and well. Second, the working hours. 24/7 is best, extended hours (e.g. 8 AM – 10 PM) are also common, but no phone line at all is a red flag that a provider should be avoided.

Best background checking sites for prospective employees

To help you narrow down a crowded marketplace, we present to you the top four background checking services:

1. BeenVerified

BeenVerified is one of the oldest and most reliable brands in the background checking space. It offers both a basic search feature as well as the ability to comb through advanced, premium data sources.

On the basic level, you get criminal records, financial records, basic social media information, as well as all kinds of personal info. Of course, you may feel that you need more information because of the state you live in, the industry you work in, or the job you’re hiring for. If this is the case, there’a number of more advanced features available, including gun information. Other premium features include the ability to send a runner to physical archives, making sure you can verify any digital records or obtain new ones that aren’t online.

Using BeenVerified couldn’t be easier. For starters, customer support is available at extended hours. The only time you’re left without help is late at night, which is perfectly fine for corporate use. The web dashboard is straightforward and intuitive, with it only taking a few seconds to configure the exact, specific search you need and want. The mobile apps, available for iOS and Android, are well-designed, quick to download, and just as easy to use as the dashboard.

There’s even a wonderful responsive website for mobile users who don’t want to (or can’t) download the app they need. The reports themselves are made to present a vast amount of data quickly and succinctly; something they do successfully. If you want to see what professionals see when they pre-screen you, you’ll find it hard to go wrong with BeenVerified.

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2. TruthFinder

TruthFinder is another two-tier service that has a few cool, unique tricks up its sleeve. On the basic price tier, you get access to straightforward data on driving records, criminal records, contact details, possible photos, and known family members. If you upgrade and expand your search, you also get access to education history, voter registration records, and more. One unique feature that makes TruthFinder stand out from the pack is the ability to do deep web searches. With these, TruthFinder looks through information that’s otherwise completely invisible on the Internet. This lets you find out biographical details that have been hidden, which is a valuable and unique advantage to have.

Design-wise, TruthFinder’s apps and dashboard are both made to be natural to use. If you use the desktop website, you’ll find it easy to make searches, including custom ones, and access the resulting reports. With the Android app, much of the same is true. You may have a couple less features, but the quality of the design and the general functionality are both there. The reports themselves are useful and convenient, with virtually all the data you need presented in a clear, easy-to-understand manner. Customer support is available 24/7, meaning that even if you do get lost at any point, you’ll quickly get the help you need. Last but not least, a responsive website is available for iOS users so you can make searches and look at your results anytime.

3. Instant CheckMate

Instant CheckMate‘s core reports include information from criminal records, marriage and divorce histories, known relatives, current and past contact details, as well as public social media information (including likely photographs). You can also choose to pay a little extra to get financial histories, driving licenses, weapons licenses, and more. We find that most users are more than happy with the basic tier – but if you want to be particularly thorough, or are applying to an industry or business that’s very stringent, it’s good to know you have options.

The service is easy to access using a modern, stylish website. The online dashboard makes it easy to run standard and custom searches, while finding past search results is a breeze as well. The same is true for the Android app, which downloads quickly and works well. There’s no iOS app, but fear not; users can all enjoy a beautiful, responsive website on any type of device. Speaking of which, of the responsive websites we tested, we found ICM’s to among the very best. The reports are excellent too, both on mobile and desktop devices. Closing out the list of features is 24/7 customer support, which is surprisingly knowledgeable (usually, round-the-clock lines are less helpful). There’s even a toll-free US line so you don’t have to spend any money while figuring out your problems.

SPECIAL DEAL: Take advantage of our special offer on Instant CheckMate to learn what your prospective employers will see in a pre-screen.

4. Intelius

With well over 13 million customers, Intelius is one of the most popular background checking services on the web. The core offering is simple: Intelius looks through a number of sources and presents the data it gleans from them in a single report. The sources include criminal records, sex offender registrations, credit histories, property records, and academic background data. Putting all these together, you can verify virtually anything an applicant says on their resume or during their interview in mere seconds. The speed and thoroughness of Intelius’ results are top-notch.

In addition to the basic search feature, Intelius is strong in secondary benefits, too. The web dashboard is clean, with searches being extremely easy to execute and manage. Even a complete IT novice could figure this service out in minutes given how well-made the dashboard is. Beyond that, apps are available for Android and iOS devices – and there’s a responsive website for anyone who can’t (or won’t) download the native apps. This makes Intelius one of the most mobile-friendly services in the niche; another salient advantage. The reports themselves are beautiful on all device types, whether custom or standard. Between all these features and 24/7 customer support, it’s easy to see why Intelius is a top choice for millions of customers. Its only weakness is the absence of more advanced search features.

Conclusion

Now you know what pre-screening checks are, what they include, and how they’re used. You also know how to run a check on yourself to get an idea of what employers will see if they pre-screen you.

Have you ever found something on your record you didn’t expect? How has your background effected your pre-employment screenings and interviews? Let us know in the comments below!

Read How Do Employers Pre-Screen Prospective Employees? Here’s How to Prepare by George P.H. on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

Do Traffic Tickets Show up on Criminal Background Checks?

A traffic violation may seem like a minor issue. However, if not taken care of promptly, it may have an effect on whether you get your dream job or not. While a traffic ticket is not considered to be a criminal citation, failing to pay for a range of tickets and not showing up in court can turn into something much bigger. In order to be confident that you have no misdemeanour charges under your belt, we recommend you use our recommended background check provider below to look into your traffic warrants.

Don’t worry – if you just got your first speeding ticket and haven’t gotten around to paying the fine, you’re likely still in the clear. The catch is not to let this violation turn into your permanent record. Not sure if your permanent record is clean? We’re here to help you out, just read on!

Run a background check on yourself to uncover any warrants

If you’ve got a big interview coming up, make sure you’re 100% sure that your record is as clean as you think it is. The worst thing that can happen is getting caught off guard by a long-standing warrant that grew from an unpaid traffic ticket, as discovered by your interviewer during the interview. To avoid this situation, we recommend that you run your own background check first. This way, you can not only arrive to the interview ready with an explanation, but you can also get the ball rolling on paying these outstanding fines and perhaps clearing your record.

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However, there are many background checking services on the market, each claiming to be the best. If you find the whole prospect daunting, allow us to make a recommendation for the service out there:

BeenVerified

BeenVerified is by far our #1 recommended background checking service – and we’ve tried quite a few to compare.

First off, simply using the service is a delight, with an intuitive layout that allows for breezy navigation through a wide range of options. Searches can thus be easily customized, making short work of uncovering everything from traffic tickets to more serious criminal activity. Furthermore, whether you are an Android or iPhone user, you have dedicated apps that will help you find all the necessary information within minutes. Should you ever run into issues with a search, or don’t know how to get started, BeenVerified’s customer support is available to its customers for long hours every day of the week.

BeenVerified comes in two tiers. If you opt for the basic subscription, you get access to a wide range of information, including criminal records, social media presence, financial history, and all other publicly available information. However, if you wish to delve deeper into a person’s history and do advanced research, you can choose to opt for the premium service.

This sort of subscription will allow you to look into gun ownership records, physical court archives, and more sensitive data. One of the best tools that comes with the premium service is a physical runner. This means that a person will be available to you if you wish to have someone look through physical court records all over the country.

How tickets become warrants

Generally speaking, when you get a traffic ticket, you have two options. The first is to simply pony up the fee, and move on with your life, careful to avoid similar citations in the near future. The second option is to appear in court to contest the veracity or extent of your ticket by pleading “not guilty”. This often leads to a significant reduction in fines, or having it thrown out altogether. It can be difficult to take the time away from work, school or family, but the reward can definitely justify the effort.

Unfortunately, many speeding tickets go unnoticed. Whether it’s the paper citation slipping out from underneath your windshield wiper, or an automatic speed trap hit you with a speeding ticket that you completely missed in the mail, these things can happen. Of course, some people simply decide to pretend the problem will just go away, and ignore the ticket altogether. In either case, the judge of the traffic court will respond the same: by issuing what’s known as a bench warrant for your arrest. As this is a court-issued warrant, it is highly likely to show up on most dedicated background checks.

While the F.B.I. is unlikely to dispatch tactical choppers to apprehend you following a bench warrant (after all, a bench warrant is NOT the same thing as a criminal warrant), you are still at risk. You can, and probably will, be arrested at the next routine traffic stop you encounter, or the next time an office pulls you over for any reason. Bench warrants don’t expire, so you won’t win by “waiting it out”.

What to do if you have a bench warrant

If you suspect you have a bench warrant, it is imperative that you seek clarity on the matter ASAP. Hiring a legal consultant is a smart first move, though it can be beneficial to run a background check on yourself beforehand, as well. Your attorney will help you get in touch with the right jurisdiction, locate the warrant, and schedule an appearance in court. This may sound like a long and involved process, but it beats the alternative. Besides, you may also be able to strike the warrant from your record as part of a plea deal.

It all depends on the background check

Regardless of the record you have accumulated with traffic tickets, it all comes down to the type of check the employer wants to run on you. Background checks have become a routine part of any hiring process, and with 53% of resumes containing inaccurate information, you can see why.

There is one statistic that is particularly surprising. Out of all employers who do background checks on their prospective employees, 82% report to analyze criminal history. With minor traffic tickets, this shouldn’t be an issue since only serious outstanding cases appear in this sort of background check. However, if an employer decides to carry out a driving record check because it is relevant to the role in question, traffic and parking tickets may become a concern.

Another thing to consider is the nature of the ticket. First-timers are rarely penalised for this sort of offense. If you received a ticket for the first time for driving a few miles over the speed limit, you have nothing to worry about. However, if you have accumulated several speeding tickets in half a year for driving 40 miles over the limit, it is viewed as a more serious offense, such as reckless driving. These show up as misdemeanour convictions, which can cause you trouble when an employer is looking into your criminal history. You can check all this detailed, sensitive information prior to applying to a job by running an advanced background check. It will help avoid any unpleasant surprises.

In parting

Depending on how the employer runs a background check, the impact traffic tickets will have on your application vary. If you have a single parking ticket and your employer is only looking into your criminal history, you have nothing to concern yourself with. However, if you have accumulated several traffic tickets in a short period of time or you’ve got a bench warrant out for your arrest for failure to show in court, it could definitely affect the employer’s final decision.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you keep track of your tickets and consult a legal representative prior to applying for jobs. If you’re not sure where you stand, a great first step towards getting on the right path is to run a background check on yourself.

Have you ever been served a bench warrant? What was the outcome? Let us know your story below.

Read Do Traffic Tickets Show up on Criminal Background Checks? by George P.H. on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter