What is a VPN and how does it work?
- What is a VPN and how does it work?
- 10 Reasons Why You Need a VPN
- 1. It Protects You When You’re Connected to a Public Wi-Fi
- 2. It Unblocks Geo-Restricted Content
- 3. It Ensures Data Protection From Internet Service Providers
- 4. It Can Help To Prevent Government From Obtaining Your Private Data
- 5. It Protects You From Apps That Track Your Information
- 6. VPN Offers Protection When Working Remotely
- 7. VPN Can Help You In Cutting Cost
- 8. VPN is Easy & Convenient To Use
- 9. VPN Can Be Adapted Diverse Smart Devices
- 10. It Secures Your Online Transactions
- Shortcomings about Making Use of VPN
- Other Geopolitical Factors Affecting Use of VPN
The term VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, which is something quite a large number of people often assume to be some sort of sophisticated high-tech tool meant for tech gurus. However, the reality is entirely different. A VPN is a necessity not just for companies and IT professionals, but also for every individual out there who regularly uses the Internet and various online services. So, it now brings us to the question, why should one use a VPN? Contrary to widely held opinions, VPN is indeed a necessary tool every individual should have in order to:
- Have access to online content that is restricted to certain geographic locations;
- Ensure your personal data is safe when using public Wi-Fi;
- Stop unauthorized third-party agents or individuals from tracking your online activities;
- Unlimited access to cyberspace even while traveling abroad.
When you consider that lots of activities now take place online than ever before, the need to travel from place to place and coupled with the fact that access to some online platforms are limited to only certain geolocations, then VPN becomes the utility tool that could make things a lot more convenient for you.
If you’re wondering how VPN protects you, this can be explained in simple terms. VPN software encrypts your data, routes it through secure networks by using private servers that may be situated in very far places, and also hides your device’s IP address, all in a bid to mask your online identity. By providing anonymity to the user, it ensures easy and secure access to platforms that would ordinarily have been restricted to the user due to their location.
10 Reasons Why You Need a VPN
Below are the various reasons why you should seriously think about getting a VPN tool peradventure you don’t have one already.
1. It Protects You When You’re Connected to a Public Wi-Fi
All large public places such as airports, bus/train stations, hotels, malls, cafes, etc., now provide Wi-Fi services. Even though it can be quite convenient for individuals to make use of such a facility, but the downside is the issue of security. Therefore, going through your emails, social media accounts or opening any sensitive site without first setting up your VPN could put you at risk because someone out there might be invading your privacy and extracting your sensitive personal information.
Yes, these things happen – for example, someone with a laptop and a packet sniffer tool sitting in such public area can analyze the network traffic and possibly extract sensitive data that you’re sending over public Wi-Fi, especially if you connect to insecure websites.
However, with the use of a VPN while using such public network, you will be able to protect your data and other sensitive personal details such as account login credentials, banking details or personal information.
2. It Unblocks Geo-Restricted Content
Many streaming platforms and services are geo-restricted nowadays. Let’s face it; it seems unfair to divide individuals into those who can access specific content and those who cannot because of their geographical location or undue interference of local authorities. However, with the help of VPN, users around the world can easily override such unfair content restrictions.
VPN is configured in such a way it can spoof your actual location and make it appear like you’re in the area of the city/country you selected in your VPN tool, thereby enabling you to have same access like people in such places. This can help to unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other services providing shows, podcasts and other content that you want to stream. Learn more about ways to unblock websites and restricted content online.
3. It Ensures Data Protection From Internet Service Providers
Granted that making use of a home Wi-Fi connection is relatively more secure when compared to a public connection, you will still be exposed to an extent. Are you aware that Internet Service Providers (in short, ISP) you pay to provide network connection can equally have a backlink access to your Internet data? In other words, the ISP Company can monitor what you browse, when you browse and your location in real-time.
The implication of this is that details describing your browsing habits can be extracted and sold to third-party advertisers or even to authorities who may request them, regardless of using browser’s “private” browsing function or not. There is no doubt that such unauthorized release of information could put the user at risk. However, the good news is that such exposure can minimized with the use of a VPN.
Moreover, if your ISP blocks access to specific domains, you can also bypass these restrictions by using a VPN. If you’re into torrenting and are worried about your privacy, VPN also protects your ISP from knowing that you’re using P2P networks.
Instead of seeing your actual activities, the ISP now communicates with the VPN server, however, the data you send and receive will be encrypted and unreadable for it. In other words, the Internet Service Provider will no longer see what data you’re sending or receiving via the Internet.
Although Internet Service Providers often make claims they do not sell or otherwise handle your data to government, there were many cases to prove this isn’t true in real world.
4. It Can Help To Prevent Government From Obtaining Your Private Data
The most obvious example is Snowden’s leaks back in 2013, which revealed that NSA was collecting telephone records of American citizens after a secret court order directing Verizon to handle all of its user’s telephone data daily. On top of that, a tool known as PRISM was used to collect private electronic data belonging to users of Gmail, Facebook, Outlook and many other online services.
Moreover, in some countries such as Brazil, local laws oblige ISPs to store user records for a specific period of time, for instance, one year or longer. This isn’t good when it comes to user privacy, as such records are subject to data leaks or simply can be requested by government itself, with or without a warrant.
That being said, there are many cases where ISPs do handle user’s data to government, especially in cases when government orders ISPs to provide user’s web browsing history and related data in case of ongoing investigation.
That being said, using a VPN can protect your data from being associated with you, but you have to choose the service provider wisely. Look for one that doesn’t keep usage logs and is 100% transparent when it comes to your privacy. A good example is Private Internet Access VPN, who has no-logs policy. It has a history of proving that it doesn’t store any of user data in courts – for instance, in 2016, FBI attempted to retrieve information about a VPN user in a court case, but it failed to retrieve any useful information. Moreover, in 2016, Russian government seized PIA’s servers in a failed attempt to gain information about VPN users, but didn’t succeed to extract any data.
PROTECT YOUR PRIVACY WITH A VPN
With over 10 years of expertise in VPN industry, Private Internet Access VPN is one of the leading service providers that is also known for its 100% no-logs policy. The VPN is packed with features: it covers 10 connections, offers unlimited bandwidth, successfully unblocks various streaming services, supports torrenting on all servers, has a Kill Switch and more. It is extremely affordable and easy to use.
5. It Protects You From Apps That Track Your Information
It is not only ISPs that may want to track you without your knowledge, apps and websites are known to do so, too. Some popular social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and others have been accused of engaging in such practices.
Fortunately, a good VPN will be able to prevent these apps and websites from identifying your real IP address and assigning your online activities to it – including details such as your browsing history, location, operating system used, cookies, screen resolution, installed browser extensions and more.
6. VPN Offers Protection When Working Remotely
The ability of VPN software tools to encrypt data i.e. to code it in an unreadable format so that no one can read them is what enables it to protect the user’s data from being obtained by unauthorized parties.
Due to the increased activity of remote work during the pandemic, company or business owners can even invest in VPN to enable their workers to connect to the office network safely from home or even public place providing Wi-Fi. In such a situation, VPN becomes a utility tool that can help business owners to maintain productivity without the risk of losing sensitive materials to online predators that may want to gain access or steal from them.
7. VPN Can Help You In Cutting Cost
Aside from protecting you and helping you to gain access to online platforms you ordinarily could not due to restrictions placed on your country/region, VPN can also help you to save money. By leveraging its ability to spoof your locations, you can choose any other city/country where subscriptions and payments for services such as air flights and hotel bookings are offered at a cheaper rate instead of using your actual location where such fees could be higher, by so doing; you end up making significant savings.
Moreover, speculations that airlines increase prices due to repeated user’s searches for flights (browser cookies to blame) have raised concerns over the last decade. With VPN, this should no longer be an issue as you can bypass tracking.
8. VPN is Easy & Convenient To Use
The need for individuals and corporate organizations to protect their online activities from cybercriminals and other predators that may want to extort or sabotage them makes it necessary to certain security measures. Unfortunately, some of these security devices can be cumbersome in nature. Unlike those ones, VPN is quite easy and convenient to use. Some VPNs, particularly the more recent ones are user-friendly with intuitive interfaces that are easily navigated and configured by anyone.
9. VPN Can Be Adapted Diverse Smart Devices
Although VPN features and protection plans may vary slightly depending on the priority of the producer and their target audience, most of them are easily adaptable and can be used to protect other devices such as smartphones and tablets aside from their conventional use in laptops and stationary computers.
Therefore, users should not forget that their privacy matters not only when using laptops or PCs, but mobile phones or tablets as well.
10. It Secures Your Online Transactions
As more transactions are now done online, the risks associated with it also increases. Whether you’re doing online banking or shopping, cybercriminals could target you and your sensitive data.
However, with the use of VPN, it will encrypt your sensitive details with robust protocols so that no nosy criminals could access them.
Shortcomings about Making Use of VPN
Like most other things that are imperfect, VPN equally has its own shortcomings. Even though it can spoof your actual location and make it anonymous yet some apps are smart enough to detect that something isn’t right with your online activity.
For example, apps you’re logged in might still be capable to tailor in-app advertisements for you as a user, despite the IP you’re connected from.
In addition to that, when you enable cookies as requested in some sites, the companies or owners of such platforms can still track you and will be able to gain access to your behavior while you’re on the site and after. However, to guard against such tracking activities, it is recommended for you to make use of an open-source tool such as Tor alongside a VPN for enhanced protection.
In addition, do not be too fascinated about free VPN services. In fact, we recommend staying away from them. Just like with any freeware, it might hide unwanted additions, such as spyware (adware or browser hijackers) or even more severe threats. Moreover, over the years, several free VPNs were detected to contain malvertising, and services like Hola were spotted exhibiting malware-like behavior. That being said, when it comes to your privacy and security, we definitely do not recommend using free services.
Other Geopolitical Factors Affecting Use of VPN
There are other political issues surrounding the use of VPN in some places across the globe. For instance, in countries like China and Russia, there are laws in place that make the free use of VPN illegal or strictly monitored. Therefore, it is very important to consider local laws pertaining use of VPNs when traveling abroad.
Moreover, when looking for a VPN, you should first find out whether the service provider has servers in countries you will be trying to unblock. It is also important to find out whether the servers are physical or virtual. Sometimes, physical servers in specific countries with local laws that are not in favor to user’s privacy can mean danger to your private information as they can be seized or inspected with or without a warrant. For this reason, we recommend that you choose your privacy protector cautiously and inspect its logging policy and server locations under a magnifying glass.
Norbert Webb is the head of Geek’s Advice team. He is the chief editor of the website who controls the quality of content published. The man also loves reading cybersecurity news, testing new software and sharing his insights on them. Norbert says that following his passion for information technology was one of the best decisions he has ever made. “I don’t feel like working while I’m doing something I love.” However, the geek has other interests, such as snowboarding and traveling.
Gnaneshwar Gaddam says