Why you need a VPN
Learn how a VPN can protect your privacy, what it does and doesn’t do, and how to get the most out of it.
Why you need a VPN and how it can help protect your data
In the digital age, the utmost importance of data privacy is taking center stage. Virtual private networks (VPNs) have rapidly transitioned from an obscure concept to a ubiquitous requirement on an individual and corporate level.
The need for secure VPNs is growing as governments, advertisers, and hackers constantly try to capture users’ personal information.
While more than 73% of Americans are concerned about their privacy online, awareness about VPNs and how they can safeguard user privacy must be improved. In fact, only 39% of Americans use VPNs.
This article sheds light on what a VPN is, why you need it, and how you can make the most of it.
What is a VPN?
Think of VPNs as a tunnel: an encrypted connection between your computer and a server operated by the VPN service. Whenever you do anything online, your IP address is hidden—your query goes through the tunnel to a remote server run by the VPN before proceeding to the open internet.
This means anyone trying to acquire any of your data will only see the VPN server’s IP address, not yours. Data coming back goes through the same route as well. Along with masking your IP address, the VPN encrypts data about the websites you visit, data shared, and browsing history. By encrypting your data, the VPN converts all of this information into gibberish; that is what anyone will see if they try to access or steal it.
Should you use a VPN?
Online hackers and other malicious parties try to procure user data in various ways every 39 seconds. Safeguarding your data must be a priority, and you should definitely think about acquiring a VPN.
When you search for anything on Google or the internet at large, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) establishes a connection between your device and the internet.
It gains access to your IP address and all of your online activity. This means that advertisers, hackers, or anyone who wants to access your information can do so. ISPs are susceptible to cyber attacks, and sensitive information can be easily leaked and even misused. Over the years, ISPs have even outright sold customer data to third parties at exorbitant prices.
Furthermore, if you regularly use public WiFi networks at airports, cafes, and other locations, then a VPN is something to consider strongly. Just about anyone can monitor publicly available networks, and all users are incredibly vulnerable. If you shop online and make payments on them without a VPN, anyone can steal your passwords, payment information, and more.
Benefits of a VPN
Secure Encryption Even on Public Networks
VPN encryption protects your data whether you browse on a private or public network. VPNs transform your information into gibberish that no one can use or make sense of without an encryption key.
Even in the event of a large-scale cyber attack, hackers cannot use any of your data without a decryption code.
Your VPN server will hide your IP address and act as a proxy instead. This means instead of sharing your location details, the VPN server’s IP address will be used. The server may be in another country, so your true location cannot be identified.
Some VPN services claim that they do not keep logs and store customer information and some VPN services do.
Access to All Content securely
Have you ever tried streaming a movie or TV show securely using a VPN and experienced lag? That can be very frustrating so you want to choose a VPN that can access streaming services and can stream them fast.
Standard internet connections use local servers to identify where you are browsing from. Since VPN connections mask this information and use their servers instead, you can access regional web content securely.
Secure Data Transfers
As remote work became the norm during and after the pandemic, employees needed the infrastructure to securely access relevant files stored on their company’s network. A VPN connection is needed to protect critical business data from potential hackers and cyber attacks. This secure connection reduces the risk of compromising important information and eliminates other such vulnerabilities.
Types of VPNs
Now that you know why VPNs are important, it’s time to acquire one. There are a variety of VPN companies and plans to choose from. Some are ideal for personal use, but businesses and large enterprises can leverage more powerful services for greater scale. There are two main types of VPNs: remote access and site-to-site connections.
A remote access VPN is the most common for individuals and businesses. It is most often used to connect a remote device outside the bounds of a corporate office. These can be laptops, desktops, or even smartphones.
Advanced remote access VPNs also allow security checks to be performed on the endpoint device before proceeding with the secure connection. Simply put, remote access is a connection between a computer and a network.
Also known as a router-to-router VPN, this type of secure connection is used by larger companies with extensive branches and offices across the globe.
It has two subtypes:
- Intranet-based VPN: When a company’s offices are connected on a site-to-site VPN, it is called an intranet-based VPN
- Extranet-based VPN: When a company uses a secure network to connect with another company, it is called an extranet-based VPN
This type of network allows users or large teams to securely connect to a cloud-based internet service. It uses the internet as the primary medium to connect remote users to the cloud. This type of VPN is offered by companies such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS). It uses the same secure encryption and protocols as standard VPNs and is often used by organizations to connect to cloud-based storage systems, SaaS applications, and more.
Mobile-based VPNs enable users to connect to a private network via smartphones and other devices. A mobile VPN creates a tunnel between the device and the VPN server to protect all data transfers. Companies use mobile VPNs to enable their employees to access company data remotely. They are also great for individual users browsing on their phones while on public WiFi networks. They protect the user’s information and activity from being intercepted.
A Secure Sockets Layer Virtual Private Network or SSL VPN uses the SSL protocol to secure a connection between a user’s local device and a server. It enables access to a private network through a secure web browser rather than an app.
What Should You Look for When Choosing a VPN?
With so many VPN types on offer, knowing which one is right for you can be challenging. When choosing a VPN, consider the speed, security, and privacy it offers, along with its cost and value for money.
Speed, Security, and Privacy
The core of a virtual private network is to provide security and privacy for all users. So before buying a VPN, you must take a close look at its security coverage: ensure that it will protect your online activity and privacy. It should also offer optimal speeds.
These factors are especially critical for large companies that will use VPN services at scale. There is no point in choosing a top-notch VPN service that provides high-end security and encrypts your data but makes websites slow to load, as it will disrupt productivity.
Paid VPN vs Free VPN
The cost of VPNs may differ depending on the type, features, and how you intend to use them. Some VPNs are also free, but there is no guarantee that they will secure your data as you need. Further, free VPNs often compromise on speed. While they may be useful for one-time browsing, they are not ideal for large-scale requirements.
If you’re interested in VPNs, then it is clear that you value security and privacy. So instead, sign up and pay for a reliable VPN service that you can trust and will not compromise your data.
People are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of safeguarding their personal data, especially as they browse online. Harnessing the power of VPNs is one way to ensure that your personal information, including your IP address, passwords, financial data, and entire digital identity, remains secure no matter what network provider you use.
Virtual private networks have emerged as optimal security solutions for individuals and large corporations. The VPN market in the U.S. alone was valued at $16.5 billion in 2022 and is expected to scale further to $137.7 billion by 2030.
And while there are plenty of VPN providers, it is important to choose one of their offerings that will meet your needs. It should also provide fast speeds, top-notch security features, and utmost privacy. When used correctly, VPNs can provide superior protection no matter where you are in the world.