In recent years, we have become more aware of firms tracking us on the web for numerous reasons. Privacy concerns are becoming much more prevalent as we continue to jump on the internet, so, understandably, we’d like to know what our options are for preserving our privacy.
Virtual Private Network technology (VPN in short) is gaining traction as a reliable and affordable option for protecting people from being tracked as they virtually wander around the internet.
First and foremost, what is a virtual private network (VPN) and how can it help to protect your privacy on the internet?
The internet is a massive public data network that is accessible to everybody. But what if you’ve got your own personal (private network) within the public internet, to which only you had access and to which all of your data is fully walled off to everyone but you? That is, exactly what a VPN is and what a VPN does.
By building a data tunnel that only your data can utilize, a VPN creates a private network within the public internet environment. The data tunnel transports all of the data from your computer or laptop. It is fully private (i.e., no one else can read it) and completely secure because it is transmitted in an encrypted format across the tunnel.
Related: What is the Best VPN Software
Why Use VPN
The following are the main reasons why you should start using a VPN today.
- For Security on Public Wi-Fi
It is convenient to have public Wi-Fi, however, public Wi-Fi is the most insecure way to go on the internet because other people who are also on the same network may be monitoring your activities. They could be spying on you while you are checking email, paying bills online, or making travel reservations for your next vacation.
So, if you are using the internet at a hotel while on business or vacation, or at your favorite coffee shop, keep in mind that someone else (perhaps the person sitting next to you) may be watching you do whatever you are doing at the time.
VPNs secure your data while you’re on public networks (like a hotel, library, or coffee shop) by concealing your browser history, account passwords, banking information, and more from people who might be interested in stealing and utilizing your personal information.
- For Data Security While Working Remotely
One of the most significant advantages of VPNs is that they provide data encryption. Data encryption is the process of encoding information such that it cannot be read without a key code to decode it.
If the information is intercepted while being sent via a network connection, it becomes impossible to decipher. That is to say that even if a hacker manages to steel your password information while you were paying bills, the hacker would be unable to use it because it is encoded in such a way that reading it would be impossible.
- Securing Data From Your Internet Service Provider
Most people don’t realize it, but your Internet service provider (ISP) has access to all of your web data. Whether you use Comcast, Spectrum, Verizon, or another company for the privilege of connecting to the internet, they can see all of the data that you send across their network, making your own Internet service provider a potential threat. If your ISP wanted to, and for all you know, they can and they probably are already collecting and selling information about you and your browsing habits to marketers.
Even if you use a “private” viewing mode, like Incognito, your ISP can still see the data you send and receive. However, you may hide your IP address and information from your own ISP by using a VPN.
- Securing Data from Your Government
While you are less likely to be hacked while using your home Wi-Fi than when using a public Wi-Fi connection (such as at a library or a coffee shop), your internet connection could still be hijacked and your data intercepted. As a result, even at home, your data is vulnerable.
Even though most ISPs and applications have privacy policies stating that they do not collect, use, or sell their users’ personal information to marketers or the government, it does happen. Although there are regulations prohibiting the government from accessing and exploiting your internet information without first getting a warrant, this does happen.
So, if you’re concerned about the government gaining access to your internet data, you’ll need a VPN to mask your IP address, browsing history, and geographic location, as well as encrypt the data you send over the internet so that the government, or anyone else, cannot access it.
- Ease of Installation and Use
No one has ever claimed that technology is easy to use or that it makes life easier. We frequently purchase hardware or software in the hopes of solving a problem, only to have it end up in the tech graveyard, where it will spend the rest of its days on a shelf or in a corner because we couldn’t figure out how to install it.
However, not every technology is difficult to set up, configure, or utilize. VPNs, for example, are simple to set up and use. The majority of VPN companies offer software that is simple to download, install, and use, with user-friendly interfaces to aid with configuration settings.
- Location Spoofing
Assume you’re in a cafe in another country and need to view a website in the United States. When you try to access the website, however, you discover that you are unable to do so since the website’s server has refused your connection. The server’s refusal to connect is most likely due to the server’s knowledge that you were outside the United States. If you had used a VPN to connect to the server, you could have configured the VPN to make it appear as if you were connecting from the United States.
The information sent by VPN servers is visible to other servers and software sniffers, but it may not be the true location of your IP Address. This capability comes in handy if you need to connect to a website that doesn’t accept connections from certain countries, or if you’re using a data torrent to download files.
Some Drawbacks of Using VPN
There are certain downsides to using a VPN, but nothing more than a slight inconvenience. The VPN service, for example, will cost a few dollars per month. However, no reliable VPN service would set you back more than $5 per month. There are free VPN providers, however, they use advertisements to support the free VPN service, which isn’t always as good as a low-cost subscription service. As a result, I would avoid using a free VPN service as much as possible.
Moreover, because the connection is traveling through a network tunnel, there will be a tiny decrease in connection speed; however, this is not significant, and with the speed of today’s connections, you probably won’t feel the difference.
Another potential problem is that some websites are aware that you are using a VPN to connect to them. The VPN traffic appears suspicious to the server, and as a result, the connection is refused.
You may also find it difficult to connect to your wireless printer if you have your VPN turned on and are using your home W-Fi. This is because the wireless printer will most likely not detect communication through a VPN.
Again, these are small inconveniences in comparison to the security benefits of connecting to the internet using a VPN rather than the public internet.
When surfing and exploring the internet, there are numerous compelling reasons to use a VPN. Almost all of them include a security component. Security and privacy on the internet have become a hot topic in recent years, and for good reason: the internet has become an increasingly dangerous place to hang out and conduct business. Consider how much information you give away every time you go online. Identity theft is America’s fastest-growing crime, and it has only gotten easier since the introduction and widespread use of the internet.
You can use a VPN to prevent hackers and criminals from obtaining information about your IP address, locations, search history, browsing history, and so on. Connecting to the internet via a VPN allows you to move around much more freely and securely.