While the macOS security profile is markedly different from Windows, users don’t typically require dramatically different security protocols. macOS has the benefit of being a far more controlled, “locked-down” OS, with a far slimmer market penetration. Thanks to Windows’ comparative dominance and macOS’ significant differences, very few custom-built attacks are found for Macs in the wild. As a matter of efficiency, attacking macOS isn’t worth the time. However, Macs are still highly vulnerable to web-based attack vectors and social engineering attacks. These attacks allow attackers to gain access to your confidential information by exploiting holes in web protocols or hijacking human trust and social expectations. VPN service for Macs can help users remain more anonymous online, lowering their attackable profile by obscuring information like IP address and hiding browsing information from potential snoops.
What’s the benefit of a VPN service for Mac users?
Almost every major VPN client offers a VPN service for Mac users. Because VPN is a web-based protocol, there aren’t “Mac-specific” VPNs. While some software companies might market their services as “Mac-friendly,” there’s no need for a “Mac-compatible” VPN. The software that connects to the VPN service from your computer, called the VPN client, needs to have a macOS-compatible version. But even that can be overcome by using a third-party OpenVPN client like Tunnelblick, an open-source VPN client that works with almost every major VPN, provided they support the standard OpenVPN protocols. In fact, many “custom” VPN clients for Mac are re-wrappered versions of Tunnelblick’s core code.
Encrypting your traffic
If you’re looking to select a VPN for Mac, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. VPNs primarily protect your identity, but not in the ways you might expect. VPNs work by wrapping your Internet traffic in an encrypted “tunnel” between you and the VPN server. This means that anyone outside of your connection with the server is unable to observe even rudimentary details about your connection. No one, not even your Internet service provider, can even see the websites you visit while you have VPN enabled.
Hiding your IP address
VPNs also obscure your IP address. When you connect to your encrypted “tunnel,” you’ll often be able to choose the geographical area in which that tunnel exits. This applies a location-correct IP address for the exit node you’ve chosen, hiding your real IP address behind the VPN’s address, which is shared among all users. This makes connecting a given VPN user to an IP address essentially impossible. While it is possible to painstakingly reconnect a VPN user with a real-world IP address, it’s the kind of thing that only seriously motivated hackers or major intelligence agencies would attempt. It’s far from something a typical users needs to fear.
Because you can choose your geographic area with a VPN, folks often attempt to use VPNs to spoof their geographic location. This might, for example, allow you to access streaming video content that’s geofenced, or limited based on the user’s location. This apparent location is derived from the apparent origin of your IP address. Of course, companies like the BBC and Netflix have caught on to this scheme, and they often blacklist well-known VPN exit nodes to prevent this practice. This is especially true for exit nodes located in the US, or exit nodes for more popular services.
How to Choose a VPN Service for Mac
When selecting a proxy service or VPN, you’ll want to consider features like the number of server locations or exit nodes, as well as the maximum download speed. Security-conscious users will also want to check on the service provider’s policy regarding retaining records and providing them to law enforcement authorities. One of the most challenging aspects of picking the right VPN service is knowing that they will not share your personal logs with any regulatory agency. Some VPN services have made the news recently, after being forced to hand over the logs they kept to government officials. If security is a concern, you’ll want to make sure you provider keeps no logs of your VPN activity on Mac. If logs don’t exist, they can’t be shared with the authorities.
You can often find free or browser-based VPNs online, but they’re typically the worst service available. In this case, you do get what you pay for, and it’s only a few dollars a month to get high-quality VPN service. VPNs aren’t just for Mac desktops either: most major VPNs provide an app for your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, enabling you to disguise your Internet access on mobile devices as well. Make sure your provider permits a sufficient number of devices for your plan.
When your browsing activity is encrypted behind multiple security protocols, government and regulatory agencies cannot track your movements online. Apple has been working hard to provide for the security needs of its customers, but there are still gaping holes in the technology and the software. VPNs are available as free software programs, or as pay-to-use programs.
What Makes a Good VPN Service for Mac?
When you’re shopping for VPN providers, some recommendations are more surprising than others. For example, Cyber Ghost VPN is ranked at #1 from over 301 VPNs on the VPN Mentor aggregator platform. What makes this VPN system so desirable? Cyber Ghose keeps no logs, so even with a valid warrant, no record of your use can be provided to law enforcement. Cyber Ghost also permits anonymous torrenting, allow you to clandestine download files from services like The Pirate Bay. Thanks to the VPNs anonymity, you can access website content, stream movies and even trade cryptocurrency anonymously. Cyber Ghost’s VPN app is fully integrated with Mac operating systems, and it works across multiple Mac devices. You’ll also find support for older operating systems, with strong encryption standards in place to protect your data.
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My first attempt at using a VPN is incorporated into Opera’s browser, but you indicate those types of VPNs as typically “the worst sources available”. Where does it fall short, logs, speed, locations? I would really like to know.