Will Using a VPN Connection Enhance your Online Security?
Torrenting sites, free video streaming platforms, and your antivirus software all tell you the same thing – “Download a VPN to protect your security and anonymity online.”
So, if you are asking yourself whether you really need a VPN, the answer is “Yes, always.”
A VPN enhances your online security in multiple ways – it hides your real location, prevents spying, mitigates cyberattacks, and lets you unlock global content.
In this article, you will learn how a VPN works, how it can protect you, and how to choose the right VPN provider.
What is a VPN and how does It Work?
A VPN is short for a Virtual Private Network.
When you are connected to a VPN, your internet traffic gets encrypted. Imagine a VPN as a secure tunnel for your online traffic that connects your device and the websites you want to visit. This means no one can spy on you, including annoying advertisers, cybercriminals, and even the government.
A VPN also routes data coming from your computer and connects it to the VPN server in your desired location. Websites you are visiting will think that you are browsing from the server’s location, not your PC’s location. This way, you will be able to hide your true IP address and unlock geo-restricted content.
How does a VPN Protect Online Users?
When it comes to cybersecurity and data privacy, the benefits of a VPN are multiple.
Enhancing Users’ Online Security
By 2030, each person will own 15 connected devices. Internet-connected devices help us automate and personalize almost any aspect of our lives, from shopping to chatting with friends. However, the rapid evolution of the IoT results in the growth of cybersecurity risks.
In 2020, cybersecurity statistics are alarming. For example, did you know that there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds, exposing the data of 1 in 3 Americans?
One of the major causes of cyberattacks is unprotected internet activity. Without a quality VPN, your online data, including your browsing history, passwords, online banking details, and contacts, can be intercepted by cybercriminals.
As mentioned above, a VPN encrypts your internet activity and hides your real IP address. It routes your traffic through servers in different locations and encrypts it to make it unreadable and untraceable by hackers.
Making Public Wi-Fi Connection Safer
If you watched Mr. Robot, you probably remember the opening scene, where Elliot hacks a coffee shop manager by taking control of TOR exit nodes.
Unfortunately, this can happen to anyone using unreliable public Wi-Fi hotspots. In 2017, researchers found that WPA2, a security protocol that secures the majority of modern Wi-Fi networks, is flawed and vulnerable to hacking. Via public Wi-Fi, even an amateur would be able to position themselves between you and your connection point. Instead of connecting to the Wi-Fi hotspot, you are giving your sensitive information to hackers.
That is why you should never connect to public Wi-Fi unless you have a VPN. A VPN creates a private network over a public one, making it impossible for anyone – internet service providers, a network owner, or a nearby hacker- to spy on you and steal your data.
Preventing Sites from Collecting your Data
Thirsty for personalized content and offers, many online users are willing to give their personal data to marketers to receive more relevant deals.
This is yet another proof that, in the fierce digital ecosystem, there is no such thing as privacy. The websites you visit, apps you download, and social networks you register on collect and analyze your sensitive data. To serve more relevant ads and content to you, they want to know everything about you – where you are located, who you are, your profession, etc.
Check your antivirus software and you will see how many trackers it identified on the websites you visit. To keep your data safe and stay anonymous while browsing the web, you should use a VPN. By creating private and encrypted connections with servers in distant locations, you will hide your real IP addresses and prevent third-party sites from collecting your data.
Maintaining Security while Torrenting
Without a VPN, torrenting may become a major cybersecurity threat. Namely, while torrenting, you may download numerous serious viruses and malware, as well as come across a wide range of online security threats.
Moreover, when browsing the internet, you are revealing your IP address and showing your physical location. This may help hackers collect your personally identifiable data.
This is where a VPN can help you by replacing your real IP address with a temporary one. By making your IP invisible to hackers, you will prevent them from finding your location and accessing your devices.
How to Choose the Right VPN Provider?
Free VPNs have many disadvantages.
They are slower than their premium counterparts and have monthly limits, meaning you will not be able to download larger files.
There are many cybersecurity risks to consider, too. They often use weak security protocols, exposing your traffic to hackers. Some free VPN providers even rely on suspicious practices to fund themselves, from showing spammy ads to storing and selling your data.
That is why you should invest in a risk-free premium VPN that will really protect you. Most VPN providers offer free trials, as well as strong customer support for their users.
When investing in a reliable VPN, here are a few features to keep in mind:
- Fast servers and unlimited bandwidth that will not slow down your internet connections
- Powerful encryption, such as 256-bit AES encryption. This is particularly important to users in countries where VPNs are banned, such as China, Russia, or Oman.
- Strong security protocols, such as OpenVPN or IKEv2, which will ensure that your data remains untraceable by hackers.
- A kill switch feature that will immediately disconnect you from the internet if a VPN connection fails.
- Ability to overcome geo-restrictions and censorship: It is important to choose a VPN provider with servers in your desired country.
- Cross-device and cross-platform compatibility: Choose a VPN that allows multi-device connections and that supports all your devices.
If you do not protect your internet connections, your online data can easily be intercepted by hackers. That is where a VPN, an essential cybersecurity tool, shines.
All you need to do is choose a secure VPN provider, install your VPN, and start using it whenever you hop on the internet.
I hope this brief guide summarizes the major advantages of VPNs and helps you get the most out of those services.