Do you use a virtual private network (VPN)? If you do, that’s excellent. However, many people do not – and it’s having a dramatically negative impact on their cybersecurity and privacy protection. A VPN is a service that allows you to keep all web browsing private – even when using public Wi-Fi or hotspots. It is, essentially, a secure section of road between your PC and the websites you visit online. When using a VPN, your activities are completely protected, and are kept private from prying hackers or website companies trying to track your location for targeted advertising.
How Does One Sign Up For A VPN?
If you’re looking to use a VPN, you have several options. First, it’s important to note that free VPN services do exist. However, they’re almost never a good idea. We’ll discuss this in more detail later.
Instead, you should use a paid VPN service. These services will connect you to a secure server located anywhere in the world. This means they may be in the United States (or the country you’re in), but they may also be in a foreign country. It doesn’t matter where they’re located, all that matters is that they’re secure.
Your VPN will create that “secure section of road” for you to work on. It will ensure that all of your web traffic conveniently passes between your PC and the server you’re connected to. This makes it exponentially more difficult for hackers to access things like the websites you’re visiting, or your login credentials for any number of sites (like financial institutions, etc.).
To sign up for a VPN, you first need to select a VPN provider. Make sure you vet the company thoroughly – you don’t want to fall for a scam. You have several options to select from, but NordVPN is typically rated one of the best across the board. When looking for a VPN provider, you’ll want to look for a specific set of features. Most importantly, you’ll want something that puts your privacy first and collects only a small amount of data from you. This helps to promote your privacy – which is the purpose of using the VPN in the first place.
How Does a VPN Work?
VPNs are undoubtedly one of the most important tools in the world we live in. Because your location is changed to wherever your VPN server is located, a VPN makes it nearly impossible for anyone to know what websites you’re visiting. This includes both hackers who may be trying to access your history and login credentials as well as your ISP (internet service provider) who might be tracking your search history to sell your information to advertisers.
This is especially important for businesses or business owners who use their PCs for more than just their own private information. If you have the login credentials for client accounts, or the banking information for people who are paying you through an accounting service – you need a VPN.
It’s important to recognize that, while VPNs are important, they aren’t a cybersecurity silver bullet. They can’t and won’t protect you from any and all cyber threats. Complete anonymity while exploring the internet world is impossible. A VPN helps you achieve some level of security, but if you’re dealing with an active or hostile hacker, you’re less likely to avoid them.
VPNs also don’t completely protect you from people looking to sell your information for advertising purposes. Although they mask your location which helps a little bit, the cookies that track your activity on any given website still exist and aren’t sidestepped by a VPN service.
Why You Shouldn’t Use a Free VPN
Anytime you’re dealing with security or privacy online, free is never the answer. Free VPNs often don’t do what they advertise, and they aren’t held to the same standards and regulations that paid VPN services are. This means that they have been known to sell your information to people willing to pay and defeats the purpose of having a VPN altogether.
On a more practical note, a free VPN service may have some technical bugs. For example, your internet browsing speed may slow significantly, your connection may not always be secure, and your connection might be unreliable – meaning there could be dropouts that slow your download or streaming speeds.
Make the Right Call – Use a VPN
VPN services aren’t that expensive, and the benefits they bring to the table far outweigh their cost. Whether you’re a casual internet user or a business owner, you should absolutely be using a VPN service. Using one will help to boost your privacy protection in a world filled with cyber crime and vulnerabilities that could lead to a leak in your personal data. A VPN is one of many small steps you can take to protecting yourself against these invasions of privacy.