Get a VPN in your browser and secure the web to make it safer

Increase your security and safty when using the internet by using a VPN inside the web browser, such as NordVPN Chrome extension.

If you have NordVPN, and a lot of people do, there is a clever Chrome extension that saves you having to run the VPN software. For everyone else, get a web browser with a built in VPN.

A VPN is software that encrypts the internet connection and makes it more secure and safer to use in some circumstances. It is especially useful when using public Wi-Fi hotspots,  places where the internet is restricted or filtered, and for appearing to be in a different location or hiding your current location.

NordVPN Chrome extension

This extension from NordVPN is in the Chrome Web Store and it requires a subscription to the VPN service in order to work.

I am a NordVPN affiliate, but it is so useful I purchased a two-year subscription out of my own pocket. It comes in handy on occasions.

You just click the icon in the toolbar to display the NordVPN panel. Click the button to sign in with your account or click the link to sign up - there are some great NordVPN deals (affiilliate link).

NordVPN Chrome extension

Once your are in, the panel gives you a choice of Auto connect or Choose location. The Auto connect feature examines the closest VPN servers to your current location and connects to it. I am in the UK, so it connected to a UK VPN server, but if you are in the US, it will connect to a US server.

Connect to a server with NordVPN

The full NordVPN software is not required and this makes the VPN simpler and faster. You don’t need to keep the app running in the background and NordVPN is only active within the browser, when you run the browser.

Connected to a VPN server using the NordVPN Chrome extension

The Choose location option can be used either before connecting or afterwards. You can auto connect to a local server and then when it suits you, you can switch to a different server in a different country.

Switch server locations in NordVPN Chrome extension

Being in the UK, I find it useful to switch to a US server. When I access news sites, such as news.google.com, it thinks I am in the US and I get US news. It is different and I see stories I would not otherwise see.

Clicking Choose location displays a list of countries from which you can choose a new location. Switching is fast, faster than the app switches.

There are a couple of other features that are accessed by clicking the hamburger menu in the top right corner. Block WebRTC helps to prevent information about you leaking from the browser, and CyberSec provides security and privacy by blocking adverts.

Block WebRTC and use CyberSec in NordVPN Chrome extension

Disadvantages of NordVPN Chrome extension

When the NordVPN software is run, it encrypts all internet traffic, such as web browsing, email, and any software that accesses the internet.

This Chrome extension only encrypts web browsing and if you started Mail for example, it would not be encrypted. This is not a flaw, it is just the way it works and other browser-based VPNs are the same. Only internet traffic from within the browser is encrypted.

Get a free VPN with Opera

NordVPN Chrome Extension works well, but it requires a subscription. It is cheap, but not free and if you want a free VPN with few limitations, you might want to consider installing Opera browser.

Opera is based on Chrome, so web content works just as well and all the latest standards are supported, but it has a different skin, menus and features. The most useful feature is the built in VPN, which can be activated by clicking the button at the left side of the address box.

Opera browser-based free VPN service

Opera’s VPN has only a handful of servers around the world, whereas NordVPN has over 1,000. However, the VPN works fine and it is quick to start and most of the time it runs at a reasonable speed. It can slow down a little at peak times of the day, but you can’t complain when you are paying nothing for it.

Opera’s VPN is browser based and only activities in the browser are protected. Apps outside of the browser, such as Mail, are unprotected. Web mail, like Gmail, which runs inside the browser would be protected.

 

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