Online privacy and security have become the concerns of the century. From state surveillance to cybercrime to unscrupulous advertising firms tracking our every online activity, the threats are real, and they’re not going away.
In light of these risks to our privacy and security, virtual private networking (VPN) is frequently touted as a must-have nowadays. Around two-thirds of internet users in the US now claim to use some sort of VPN service.
There are many good reasons to use a secure VPN service. With
about half of VPN users considering general security or privacy to be the main reason. O
However, before we start exploring the main reasons for using a VPN, it’s important to clarify that these services vary enormously in quality. For example, free services rarely offer adequate levels of security and privacy. They may come with tight bandwidth restrictions that make them unsuitable for data-intensive activities. Some even collect more information about you and your browsing habits than internet service providers, making them even worse for protecting your privacy and security than if you weren’t using any VPN at all.
That said, a dependable VPN service that has been independently vetted and has a stringent no-logs policy can provide a vital extra layer of protection while also offering several other key benefits. With that in mind, here are our five top reasons why you should use a (good) VPN
The most important reason for using a VPN is that it offers a safer browsing experience. When you connect to the internet in the usual way, your outgoing traffic may not be encrypted. Most websites that require users to enter sensitive information, such as login or payment details, will encrypt your data. If this is the case, then a padlock icon should appear beside the address. However, a lot of data sent over the internet isn’t encrypted, which means it can be intercepted on the way.
Network eavesdropping attacks are particularly a risk on shared or unprotected networks, like those you find in airports, parks, and cafés. While public wireless hotspots are usually free, internet traffic can easily be intercepted by attackers without much technical skill. This makes public networks especially risky for remote workers, so most businesses have strict policies that determine what employees can and cannot access from work devices and where.
A VPN provides a secure tunnel in which all your internet traffic is encrypted at the source. If the data is encrypted, no one will be able to make sense of it, even if they manage to intercept it. A dependable service provider should use modern, industry-standard encryption algorithms that are virtually impossible to crack. That way, you can make public hotspots as safe as any home or office network.
Many people wrongly assume they are anonymous online, but nothing could be further from the truth. Every device connected to the internet has an internet protocol (IP) address. This is typically provided by your internet service provider (ISP). Although IP addresses don’t contain any private information, these unique identifiers can be traced back to you. Your IP address is public information, and it typically reveals who your ISP is and which city and country you’re based in. This is how websites can show localized advertisements, search results, and other content.
When you connect to the internet via a VPN, your actual IP address is hidden. Instead, websites and other online resources you connect to only see the IP address provided by the VPN. This also means it will appear to the rest of the internet that you are browsing from the location of the VPN server. For example, if you’re physically located in London, but you’re connected to a VPN server in New York, any website or online service you access will think you’re in New York.
A decent VPN goes much further than just hiding your real IP address. That’s something that any proxy server can do as well. In addition to masking your IP address, a good VPN will also use traffic obfuscation. Obfuscation disguises your VPN traffic as regular encrypted traffic, so no one will be able to tell you’re using a VPN in the first place.
Trustworthy VPN providers also don’t log any information about their users, such as their real IP addresses.
We already know that different online content is served up in different areas of the world, but did you know that this extends to prices for online shopping too? While the increasingly global economy means there’s less variability than there used to be, it is still possible to find a better deal if you’re able to access different marketplaces.
Aside from variations due to currency exchange rates or international import tax rules, it’s also common for eCommerce sites to price products and services differently based on the user’s location. This is frequently the case with airline tickets, and hotel bookings.
By connecting via a VPN, you can get a better deal on a flight via the US version of an airline’s website compared to the British version, and connecting to a VPN with servers in many countries makes that possible.
The internet offers a virtually endless source of information and entertainment.
Many of these sources are compatible with a VPN, whether it be an Amazon Firestick, iPad, PlayStation, Laptop, Android Phone or many more devices, you can connect to a some of the better VPNs on pretty much every gadget that you own.
Some VPN services even offer router apps that ensure your entire network is connected to a VPN, useful for the more forgetful who may not always remember to check they are connected, and secure at all times.
Many VPN providers offer no risk money back guarantees, with up to 45 days to try out all of the premium services before you have to pay a thing.
Whether you want to test out how well the VPN you chose provides secure connections on public Wi-Fi, check if you can use your VPN on your Xbox or iPhone, or even test out whether your new VPN is compatible with your favourite websites then you can do all of this before committing to a paid service.
If you are not happy with the VPN you chose you can your activate your money back guarantee, and test out the next VPN on your list until you find the one that suits you best.