A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a must for the internet-savvy and security-conscious.
What is a VPN?
A VPN is your own private access to the internet. Like a digital security guard, it keeps everything you do private, anonymous, and encrypted.
All internet traffic, whether you’re browsing the web, uploading a document, or downloading a film, can go through your VPN.
Here are 5 reasons why you need a VPN:
1. A VPN protects you from cybercrime
A VPN protects you from cybercrime in two ways:
- It encrypts all the data between you and the internet
- It hides your IP address
When you download a webpage, your router or modem makes a request for it through your internet service provider (ISP), which then sends that request to the server that holds it (which could be anywhere else in the world). For this to work, networking devices like routers and servers are given IP addresses, which lets the internet know where to send information.
The problem is, having your IP address known to the internet makes you more vulnerable to hacking; and because the data being sent between your router and the internet isn’t encrypted, it’s easier for cybercriminals to see.
This is especially dangerous when you’re using a public wifi spot, such as that found in a coffee shop. Hackers exploit these open connections to access your data, but with a VPN, this is much harder to do as the VPN both hides your IP address and encrypts your data.
Since all data goes to the VPN server first, potential hackers see the VPN server’s IP address and not your own. As all the data is encrypted, you’re even more protected.
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Hide My Ass! Pro VPN is a fantastic VPN app that has earned a good reputation thanks to the myriad of options available: speed, broadband and unlimited server changes; the most secure protocols, compatibility with any service (including Netflix) and up to 5 connections per license.
Another highly recommended option is VyprVPN, a service backed by the Swiss company Golden Frog, seasoned experts in the tech world who advocate for an open internet. VyprVPN boasts of 73 servers in 64 countries, with a NAT firewall that gives you an extra security layer
Zenmate is another great option for secure browsing. This VPN doesn’t store any of your data and uses the latest encryption systems.
2. A VPN lets you enjoy worldwide content
A VPN lets you trick the internet into thinking you’re browsing from another country. It does this by connecting you to servers it owns throughout the world. So, if you want to stream content that’s only streamable in the USA, but you’re on holiday in the UK, you can route your request through one of your VPN’s American servers.
3. A VPN lets you access better prices
Some websites, specifically flight booking sites, might charge you more or less depending on where you’re browsing from. There are also rumors that some airlines change pricing depending on whether you’ve made the same search several times.
By using a VPN, you can change the IP address to that of another country and see if this affects your prices. You can also change the IP address if you’ve searched for the same flight a few times – even to somewhere local – and see if that makes a difference. You might be surprised to save $100s.
It does come with a warning, though: if a condition of purchase is that you live in the same country you’re browsing from, it’s best to err on the side of caution and use a local IP address.
4. A VPN lets you browse unrestricted
Some countries and governments don’t want you to access certain sites. Sometimes for good reason, but at other times, just overzealous censorship. The internet’s free and open nature is its most powerful asset, so restricting it for frivolous reasons is unfair, and in some cases, might infringe on your human rights.
By allowing you to effectively choose your browsing location, you can select countries which are less restrictive than your own. Letting you enjoy the internet’s heart bounty by unlocking all of its doors.
5. A VPN prevents your ISP from throttling your internet speed
ISPs collect data on your browsing history by monitoring your IP address and the sites it visits. Now, they do this for good reason – for monitoring and managing internet traffic to make the internet more efficient. But there’s a darker side to this, too.
Knowing which sites use the most bandwidth means they can throttle your internet speed at busy times. Many do this with torrent traffic, but also less clandestine activities such as watching Netflix. If Netflix, HBO, or iPlayer is taking up too much bandwidth, your ISP can reduce your speed to free up capacity for other things.
A VPN stops your ISP from throttling your speed because your ISP won’t know which sites you’re visiting. Now this advantage does come at a price. Because all your data is encrypted before going to your ISP, and incoming traffic from the VPN server requires decryption for you to see it, this does slow down your connection a bit. How much depends on the VPN you’ve chosen, how good its encryption is, and which of its worldwide servers you’ve chosen (the closer the better in most cases). Click Here to learn more about VPN Unlimited.
Most of the time speed isn’t an issue – especially with a paid-for VPN. Make sure though that you select the right VPN for you depending on what you need it for. For example, if you’re a gamer you might want to acces to the multiplayer servers available in certain countries. We put together a list of our favorites to help you choose which VPN is right for you.