A virtual private network (VPN) hides your web traffic from the prying eyes of hackers and can protect your home network and data from criminals. You might not think you need one, but home networks are increasingly vulnerable to hackers and a VPN could protect you.
When you connect to a VPN, it encrypts your web activity in what is known as a tunnel. This encrypted connection routes all of your traffic through a remote server. That’s why you can use a VPN to spoof an IP address in another country if, for example, you want to watch American Netflix abroad or need to access your social media during a visit to a country that restricts internet access. Because they encrypt your web traffic, VPNs can hide the contents of your web traffic and make it harder for observers to see what you’re doing inside the tunnel. That’s why many companies require employees working remotely to do so through a VPN.
It’s one thing to use a VPN for work, but do you really need a VPN for regular internet browsing, social media use, and video streaming? If you care about your privacy, yes, you do. If you’re using public wireless hotspots, such as in the coffee shop or library, a VPN can protect your data from snooping hackers. Here’s what a VPN can do for you.
Keep Your Data Private
The primary reason most people choose to use a VPN proxy connection is for privacy. If you’re using the internet without a VPN, any hacker can snoop on your activity and steal your data. However, your internet service provider (ISP) can also collect your data. They will sell this data and it could easily fall into criminal hands via a data breach.
It’s not just your ISP collecting your data, either. Apps and services like Facebook also collect and use data about your online activities. The government has been found to be spying on citizens’ internet activity, too. The Snowden leaks in 2013 revealed that companies like Verizon are selling customer data to the National Security Agency (NSA). And while legislation now requires government agencies to produce a warrant in order to access someone’s cell phone data and other online activity data, bureaus like the Defense Intelligence Agency have been finding ways around those requirements.
Work Securely Without Going to the Office
If you worked at home at any point during the pandemic, chances are you’ve already used a VPN. Most companies require employees to work through a VPN when working from home, to keep company data secure. Your home network simply may not have the same level of security as the network at your place of work, which has firewalls and other safety features designed to protect sensitive and valuable company information from hackers. A VPN allows you to securely engage with sensitive company data from your device at home.
Protect Yourself on Public Connections
When you’re using a public connection without a VPN, everyone else who shares that connection can see your activity if they want to and know how. Whether you’re shopping, answering emails, or looking at social media, snoops can see everything that you’re doing. A VPN can effectively hide your activity, including data like your banking information, from prying eyes while you’re using a public connection.
View Streaming Content from Anywhere
If you’ve ever tried to view a streaming service like Netflix outside the United States, you already know that other countries don’t have access to the same content library that’s available to users in the U.S. You can use a VPN to spoof your location, making Netflix think you’re still in the U.S., so you can access your favorite streaming content from anywhere. Many residents of other countries use VPNs to access American streaming content that isn’t available to them on their versions of Netflix. It’s perfectly legal to do this in most countries. However, in countries like China, where the Great Firewall restricts access to the wider internet, you could end up in a lot of hot water by using a VPN to bypass government restrictions on the internet, so be careful if you’re using a VPN this way in a country that restricts its citizens’ access to the internet.
Are you worried about your privacy online? A VPN can protect your online activity from prying eyes, and keep your data safe from hackers. If you’re using the internet at all these days, you should be doing so through a VPN.