When you connect to the Internet, your activity is not private. Every move you make is tracked by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The provider does this by assigning you a public IP address that can ultimately be traced to your general physical location.
Though it's not harmful for your ISP to have this information, the risk occurs when your information gets sold to third-party groups. For example, your ISP can sell your information to advertising companies, which will then be able to know your Internet activity and hone their ads to reach your specific needs.
Additionally, your online activities are vulnerable to hacking attacks if you use unsecured public WiFi networks. Most people use these networks without even realizing the risks. And even if you are using secure WiFi and have a trustworthy ISP, depending on the region or country of your IP address, websites can be blocked or censored, limiting your web browsing experience.
However, a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, can solve these issues by protecting your security and privacy online. Virtual private networks are like online cloaking devices that protect you from a myriad of threats when browsing the Internet. When you use a VPN service, it makes it so your online activities are unable to be traced back to your physical location.
What Does a VPN Do?
So, how does a good VPN protect your online activities? This is what happens when you activate a virtual private network:
Your public IP address hidden. The IP address given to you by your ISP is hidden when you use a virtual private network. Instead, your connection goes through the VPN server, and your IP address is replaced by a different VPN-provided IP address.
Your connection cannot be hacked. Your VPN creates a secure path inside the Internet where your Internet activity travels. Hackers will not be able to find weaknesses in the network. If they try to attack it, the VPN works to sense the attack and reroute your activity somewhere more secure.
Your connection is encrypted. The VPN encrypts your activity, making it unreadable to potential hackers. So, in the unlikely event that a hacker does get into your network, they still won't be able to decipher anything from your activities.
The increased security and privacy of your connection is the most popular reason to use a VPN. However, there are several other benefits to setting up a VPN and using it in your day-to-day browsing.
Seven Reasons to Use a VPN
If you've thought about getting a VPN for privacy and wondered if it was really worth the investment, consider the following other reasons to have a VPN connection:
You can access your VPN from anywhere with any device and any operating system through a secure username and password. This is very helpful when you're traveling and want to safely access the Internet from the airport or hotel. You don't need to worry about limiting your laptop use when only public WiFi networks are available.
Data privacy from the government
In a perfect world, your browsing data would be private. Third-party sources or the government would have no access to your information. But as we know, this isn't always the case. The government does its own data collection and surveillance, whether we're aware of it or not. A VPN can help protect your data from the government as well as other sources.
Safety even when not in secure areas
With a VPN, you can feel safe even when using free WiFi and visiting untrustworthy websites. This is because VPNs encrypt all of your activities. Without a virtual private network, hackers on the same WiFi network have an easy time snooping on your information.
Ability to find better deals when purchasing online
When buying certain items online, like airline tickets, hotel stays, or subscription services, prices can vary based on your geographical location. In order to gain access to the best deals possible, try changing your IP location with your VPN; you could potentially have big savings.
Evading network censors to access blocked sites
Certain websites or services may be blocked in your country or region. You also may not be able to access certain websites when traveling. With a VPN, you can set your IP address location to wherever you need to be to access the content. For example, you can browse social media at work even if your employers' network bans the sites.
Compatibility with smart technology
VPN services don't work exclusively on computers. Check your app store to see what VPN options are available. Each VPN company will have different capacities to cover phones and other smart devices, but in most cases, you'll be able to find some service to cover your device. Just like desktop VPNs, VPN apps encrypt your data, offering the same protection on the go.
Restrictions on apps' data accessibility
Apps on mobile devices collect user information, too. A VPN inhibits apps from associating your online activity with your computer's IP address, which limits the amount of accurate information that the app can gather.
Ways to Use a VPN
VPNs have many different purposes. For the average user, one of the biggest perks of using a VPN is the ability to access other countries' streaming services. Without sacrificing Internet speeds, a virtual private network can spoof a user's IP location to get viewers onto Netflix Canada and access to all the shows on that service that Netflix USA doesn't have. In the same vein, gamers have the ability to use a VPN to access games outside their region. You can bypass geo-blocking, get on any site you want, and do it all safely.
Overall, VPNs are great for anyone concerned with privacy online. They hide your location from anyone you might not want to see your activities. Also, they provide an extra layer of security, which is always beneficial.
Before you jump into any service, however, do your research. Make sure to read the fine print and make sure the virtual private network is truly safe to use. Most are, but free VPNs have to make money somehow; a free VPN is not always as secure as it seems. Reading user reviews online can also be beneficial in these situations.
Consider both the positives and the negatives; however, know that in general, using a VPN is a safe and beneficial choice.