VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and does pretty much what it says. Most people use VPNs for accessing websites that would otherwise be blocked, such as US Netflix if you’re outside of the US. But a VPN also adds a layer of security by making you totally anonymous online.
You’ll find more in-depth information in our best VPN roundup, but here we share browser VPNs that you can download now.
These days, you can download a free web browser with built-in VPN capabilities, but if you want to continue using Chrome or Firefox (both of which currently lack a built-in VPN), you can install extensions or plug-ins to do the same job.
Another alternative is a standalone application which automatically routes all web traffic through a VPN. Many of the best VPNs aren’t free, but there are lots of free options.
Our pick of the best VPN available in 2018 has released a Chrome browser extension, adding to its portfolio of VPN products for iOS, Android, macOS and Windows.
If you already have an account with NordVPN you’ll be able to use this browser extension at no extra cost. If you’ve yet to sign up, you can choose between four plans: 1 month for $11.95/£8.60, a year for $69 ($5.75/£4.25 per month) two years for $79 ($3.29/£2.35 per month) or the cheapest, which is three years for $99 ($2.75/£2 per month). Sign up here.
Once you’ve signed up, you can download the extension here and begin using it to protect web traffic through Chrome using a simple, easy to use tool.
Windscribe is another good VPN option with a browser extension available. In addition to a basic proxying service, Windscribe’s browser extension also blocks ads, trackers and social widgets, keeps track of and deletes cookies, spoofs your timezone and rotates your user agent.
It can also work together with the Windscribe desktop application for ‘double hop’ functionality, which can proxy your connection through any two servers on the network.
There is a limited free version of Windscribe available, as well as a pro version that costs $4.08/£2.94 per month.
Of all the popular mainstream web browsers, Opera is the first to offer a built-in VPN service. To try out the new browser for free, with an unlimited VPN, you can visit Opera’s website here.
It protects your identity by hiding your activity within the folds of a virtual network. The service operates a no-log policy, which means that no records are kept of the sites you visit, passwords you enter, or any downloads you make.
You can select from three regions to start with including Canada, USA, Germany: this becomes your virtual location. As well as giving your browser the added panache of being well travelled, this also opens up region-locked content from various streaming services.
CyberGhost has built a solid reputation for security and transparency over the years. The platform boasts a number of key features that make it one of the safest ways to roam the internet.
Alongside the anonymising of your online identity, CyberGhost also features military grade encryption to fend off hackers who would try to steal your data on public WiFi hotspots.
You don’t need an additional browser or plug-in, as CyberGhost works with pretty much everything and is even available as an app for Android and iOS.
An ad-blocker also makes surfing even quicker, although it does deprive impoverished writers of their hard earned money.
It’s available for $3.50/£2.50 per month if you commit to two years.
When it comes to online anonymity one name looms larger than all others. Tor has long been the refuge of those who want to avoid the glaring eye of government surveillance, or potentially sensitive data being hacked by nefarious parties.
Journalists use it to converse with sources, as do a number of other professions and general users.
The Tor browser is free and works very much like Firefox, as it appears to share the same engine.
Once installed you simply use it as you would Chrome or IE, but Tor recommends that you don’t install any plug-ins such as Flash and the like, as they can be a security risk.
Tor is already a byword for security online, and using it makes sense for those who value their privacy.
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