The word “VPN” is all the rage in the online world because big companies collect our data and sell it to be used to advertise to us. You must have noticed that when you look up something you soon after get an ad for that item e.g. you might have looked up the best smart ACs and now you keep seeing advertisements for different AC units. Some people even believe that companies spy on us through our smart devices’ mics or cameras since advertisements that show up seem to be about stuff you might have just talked about or looked at.
Companies are beginning to use better and better algorithms which makes them better at predicting and influencing our behavior given all the information they quietly collect about us. Along with this, there is also a lot of cybercrime taking place as hackers try to steal your sensitive data for their own nefarious purposes. This could involve stealing your banking information as well or installing ransomware that will prevent you from accessing important files until you pay a ransom.
How Does a VPN Help?
Well, VPN which stands for Virtual Private Network helps by encrypting your data and changing your IP address. In doing so your privacy is heightened as your search history, location, files you have downloaded and any other online activities you engage in will be secured. That’s the bare basics of a VPN, but you probably want to know more about how exactly it can help you as an everyday user. Yes, that’s right you don’t need to be an international spy to use a VPN. VPNs can be pretty handy even if you’re an ordinary person. Not convinced yet? Check out the list below to see just how great VPNs are:
1. Public Wi-Fi
Perhaps your phone data is failing you and you’re in a pinch so you decide to connect to the public Wi-Fi at the train station. Or perhaps you hate working at home so you head over to your local café with your laptop in hand and connect to the public Wi-Fi. Whatever the situation may be we often find ourselves needing to connect to the public Wi-Fi which can be potentially dangerous for us. Hackers can steal information through unsecured networks such as our banking information or login credentials and misuse these to cause damage to us.
2. Circumvent Censorship
Some countries have strict national policies in terms of what is accessible on the internet e.g. China has banned giants like Facebook and Google. In cases where the ban is a national policy using a VPN is also usually illegal. For example China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has made illegal the use of VPNs within the country. However, companies and schools also have Wi-Fi networks that block certain websites. In such circumstances you may be able to use a VPN to circumvent any blocked websites or online restrictions.
3. Stream Anything and Everything You Want
You may have travelled to another exotic country and of course you are busy exploring the new place. But perhaps when you come back to the hotel for the night you want to take a hot shower and cozy into bed while catching up on that series you had been watching back home in the US. However, you might open Netflix only to find out that the show is not available in the region you are in. This can be a real bummer right? I think almost all travelers have experienced that moment when their beloved show isn’t available in another region. However, things aren’t as hopeless as you might think. You can still catch the season finale of your favorite show by using a VPN. VPNs give you a different IP address so you can choose a US IP address which will allow you to access all the shows available in the US.
Additionally you can use a VPN to watch shows available outside the region of the US. However, one of the downsides of using a VPN is that it can slow down your internet speed though this shouldn’t be an issue if you’ve subscribed to CenturyLink bundles.
4. Greater Privacy
Remember VPNs don’t exactly offer you anonymity as when you log in to a website that has your basic identifying information stored you more or less reveal who you are. And those with the right kind of superior skills and tool can still use clues to figure out what kind of person you are and who you are talking even if they can’t read your messages.
Scary right? Does this mean you should give up and not even bother using a VPN. The answer is a resounding “No.” VPNs still manage to make tracking you much harder by adding a layer of security to protect you. VPNs prevent anyone trying to spy on you from seeing which files you downloaded, your messages and the websites you visited.
5. Prevent Identity Theft
With all the great sales coming up on Black Friday and Christmas, you can finally grab all the gifts you want for mom and dad as well as for your siblings and close friends. Unfortunately this means shops run out of stock of certain products that you might want to get. And if you’re doing for in-store shopping the chances of getting what you are looking for become even slimmer. That is why most people today prefer to do online shopping. It is not perfect but it certainly beats the crazy packed stores and you are likely to get the item you’re looking for in your size too!
While online shopping can be extremely convenient it has its own challenges and dangers as it requires you to input your name, address and card details to make financial transactions. These online purchases could allow savvy hackers to steal your banking details or information about your identity resulting in identity theft and them being able to make transactions in your name.
On a Final Note
In short we can conclude that VPNs are pretty great aren’t they? They can help lower the risk of you being a victim of a cybercriminal while also help making your life convenient. However, be warned: before you use a VPN make sure that you are legally allowed to do so in your country.