Do you need a VPN and why?
How many times have you connected your phone to public Wi-Fi hotspots without any privacy measures?Rilind Elezaj
Did you know how much cybercriminals salivate for your data? Have you ever thought of how valuable the data from your online activity is to some people? There are data thieves from across the world who would benefit from knowing your identity, location, financial details, important passwords, your profession, and your close relations, just to name but a few. If such thieves manage to intercept data that you pass around on your phone or computer every time you go online, they can use it to fleece you financially or blackmail you for different inappropriate reasons.
What is VPN?
This is a great question. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. As the name suggests, this is a network that protects your privacy online by virtually encrypting the connection between your browsing device and the site that you wish to visit. Your VPN service provider operates a VPN server that serves as an intermediary between you and the internet; it hides your location, identity, and IP address from any and all third parties.
Every internet traffic to or from your device passes through the VPN server and as it comes out from the other end, all that the public internet can see is the VPN IP address instead of yours. That way, data thieves aren’t able to spy on your data. With a reputable VPN service provider, it doesn’t matter how unscrupulous the sites you visit are or how untrustworthy a network is; even the site owner or network provider cannot unmask your privacy.
With a VPN app on your browsing device, all you will need to do is launch it and then use your unique login credentials to access your VPN products. Your computer will be recognized by the VPN server on the side of your provider and after the two computers exchange a unique key, they will trust each other and start encrypting your internet interactions.
Why Do You Need VPN and How Useful Is It?
As you may have already established, every internet user who cares about his or her data needs VPN services. I mean, how many times have you connected your phone to Wi-Fi hotspots on public transport terminus, hotels, or even worship places? If you are like many people, you don’t think twice whenever you find free internet: Many people jump right in without caring to inquire if the connection is secure or not. That, of course, leaves many people vulnerable to data thieves who in most cases set up illegitimate connections in public places so that they can eavesdrop on unsuspecting victims. That’s a basic reason that makes VPN invaluable.
Are there other reasons? Here are six other reasons that make VPN very useful.
1. Safe downloads
Who in this era of social media doesn’t download videos and images on their phone? Or who doesn’t receive spam emails containing spam downloadable content that can harm your computer? In a nutshell, everyone is downloading stuff be it at home, school, or at the workplace. Because you can’t discern spam content from merely looking at it (well, unless you are tech savvy), the best protection you need is having a VPN for your browsing device.
2. Navigating around a region or country restriction
There are countries that restrict the online content that reaches their citizens. China, for example, doesn’t allow its people to access Facebook, Instagram, and other trendy social platforms. Without delving into the legality and illegality of this in the American context, VPN can help you to navigate around sites that the government restricts your access. In other cases, you could be a fan of a show that doesn’t go live in America and that means that you have to wait for months before you get an episode you impatiently wish to watch. VPN can help you to gain access to the offshore network undetected and watch the show. Some internet radio and podcasts too can be restricted in your area and that will take the intervention of VPN services.
3. Job security.
Technology has made it possible to work at home and relay vital information through the internet. If you are entrusted with highly confidential data and then while working at home, unfortunately, it leaks, you may find yourself fired or even sued. You never know who is eavesdropping on your online activity: It could even be someone in your apartment.
4. Intellectual protection.
If you are a student, someone might want to duplicate your intellectual property without your consent. It could be a fellow student wanting to access your laptop from a remote location so as to steal your project notes or research data. Some institutions of higher learning have deployed VPN infrastructure for their students in a bid to counter this, but if your institution hasn’t done that so far, you should install one for yourself.
5. Increased level of anonymity.
If online users cannot track your location, then that makes you anonymous to them. VPN allows you to hide your location to people you don’t know or those you don’t want to find you. It also shields you against mass surveillance operations by NSA, for example, by encrypting anything that can lead back to you. However, this is not to mean that government agencies and intelligence authorities cannot track you down if they need to. This anonymity is to keep you safe from bothersome people and eavesdroppers but not a license to misbehave.
6. Saves you from big data monetization.
Social media giants such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as well as search engines such as Google and Bing collect big data from your browsing history and then sell it to those who need it. Facebook, for example, was tied up in the Cambridge Analytica saga because of selling its users’ data to campaign teams of different political candidates in USA 2016 elections. Other websites track your data and auction it to advertisers and social influencers who then use it to customize campaign ads for your consumption. If you don’t want these companies to monetize your data, then VPN would be the protection you need.