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Travelling through airports and staying in hotels means that you’re especially reliant on public WiFi, but it also means that you have an added risk of having your business or personal information stolen while using unsecure networks.
To tap into this market, Norton By Symantec has released a new subscription-based mobile app, called Norton WiFi Privacy, to help protect your data when using public or unsecured WiFi.
If you’re familiar with Virtual Private Network (VPN) services, the Norton WiFi Privacy app is basically just that – a no-log private network that allows you to browse the Internet securely and anonymously.
The Norton app is currently available on both Android and iOS at an annual price of US$29.99 (A$40). The price covers just one device, and Norton states that PC, Mac and multi-device availability will be on the way soon.
Like other VPNs, the Norton app works by creating an encrypted link between your device and a server somewhere else – somewhat similar to the technology used by banks to secure online banking sessions between your browser and the bank's computers.
The tech's original idea was to facilitate businesspeople connecting to their company's networks from remote locations, encrypting sensitive information so that nobody could tap into the connection.
But these days, there are a plethora of consumer-friendly VPN services available – and despite it's name, you don't have to be connected to a WiFi network to use it, as it should also secure your connection when using mobile data.
On top of that, Norton also includes a feature that actively blocks ad trackers, which not all other VPN providers match.
In addition to security advantages, VPNs can also be used to access certain apps or services in countries where they may be censored, as well as allowing you to get around region-blocking if you want to catch up on local Australian media content when overseas.
The app provides servers in a number of different locations that you can switch between whenever you like...
... although you'll find that the closest servers to your geographical location offer the best speeds.
VPNs: pricing vs speed
Pricing and speed have always been major factors when considering the best VPN option for your needs.
At US$29.99/year, the Norton product is actually priced well compared to other VPN services on the market, working out to just under US$2.49 (A$3.35) per month against competitor pricing of US$2-18.99 per month.
When it comes to speed, the app offers good performance through it's local Australian server - we were typically finding speeds of around 20 to 25Mbps for download...
... and even higher speeds for upload, but this will of course vary depending on your Internet connection. In our case, both the download and upload metrics were able to be maxed out using the Norton service.
One of the major downsides of the Norton product is that it’s only available for a single device for each subscription – other VPN services generally allow you to download VPN clients for any of your devices and switch between them as needed on the one account.
At the moment we haven't had the chance to test the app in China or the Middle East, so we can't say if it performs as well there as it does locally in Australia.
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