Every day, our smartphones send and receive a lot of sensitive information: passwords, private messages, health information, bank details, location, and more.
Keeping this data safe is critical. But there are situations when your data is especially vulnerable, such as when you’re using the Wi-Fi at an airport or coffee shop.
Anytime you use your
That includes being certified under Common Criteria, the gold standard for security hardware like credit card chips and SIM cards.2 Google also brings Protected Computing to features like Live Translate,3 spam detection in Messages,4 and Smart Reply – so they can provide intelligent, personalized experiences right on your device, safely and without going to the cloud. And with Google Pixel 7 phones, Protected Computing helps keep your health and wellness data private. For example, with your permission, cough and snore detection within
Of course, not everything can be processed on your device – like browsing the web. This is where a virtual private network, or VPN, comes in. Google offers VPN security as another layer of protection for your network traffic.
But why are VPNs important, and when should you use them? We talked with two cybersecurity experts to understand how VPNs can help keep your online activity out of the hands of bad actors.
A VPN helps you browse the web safely by encrypting your traffic. When you visit a website, data gets sent from your device to the site you’re accessing. But first it gets passed through the Wi-Fi router you’re using to access the internet and through your internet service provider. VPNs hide your network data by creating an encrypted connection between your device and the VPN server, so that neither your internet service provider nor any other entity between your device and the VPN server can see what websites you’re browsing or apps you’re using.
A VPN also helps keep your browsing secure by masking your IP address – the unique identifier assigned to you and tied to information like your location and internet provider. Websites and advertisers use your IP address to track the websites you visit and the kind of content you enjoy. VPNs replace your personal IP address with a new one assigned by the VPN server, reducing the ability of sites to track you across visits when you’re not signed in.
“What a VPN does is provide a tunnel directly into the site that you want,” says Herb Lin, a senior cybersecurity researcher at Stanford University. “If anybody listens in along the way, all they pick up is gibberish.”
VPNs are especially important when you’re using public networks – like the free Wi-Fi at a coffee shop – and even when you’re scrolling through social media or gaming at home. “The other reason you might want to use a VPN is if you’re just worried about privacy,” says Jason Hong, a cybersecurity expert and professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University.
Not all VPNs are built the same, according to Hong. VPNs can protect you against some outside attackers, but you need to trust that your VPN service is using strong encryption and won’t snoop on your traffic. “Using a VPN doesn’t necessarily mean that your data is private, because the company that’s offering you the VPN can still inspect traffic,” Hong says.
Unlike some other VPN services, VPN by Google One is verifiably private. Google uses a technique called “blind signing,” which separates your Google Account from the servers that route your traffic. The result is that nobody can associate your browsing traffic with your IP address on your secure smartphone. We publish the source code for our VPN so that anyone can verify how we do this. VPN by Google One also will not track or sell your browsing activity. Minimum logging is performed to ensure quality of service, but your network traffic is never logged, and your IP address is not associated with your activity.
An intrusion or breach can be devastating. Having the right protections will help keep you safe and bring you peace of mind, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
1. Restrictions apply. Some data is not transmitted through VPN. Not available in all countries. All other Google One membership benefits sold separately. This VPN offer does not impact price or benefits of Google One plans. Use of VPN may increase data costs depending on your plan. See g.co/pixel/vpn for details.
2. Common Criteria certification for hardware and cryptographic library (CC PP0084 EAL4+, AVA_VAN.5 and ALC_DVS.2). See g.co/pixel/certifications for details.
3. Live Translate not available in all languages or countries. Not available on all media or apps. See g.co/pixel/livetranslate for more information. Translation may not be instantaneous.
4. US only. English only. Call Screen may not detect all robocalls and spam calls.
5. Not intended to diagnose, cure, mitigate, prevent or treat any disease or condition. Consult your healthcare professional if you have questions about your health. See