Do you feel safe when you’re surfing on the internet? When you’re online banking, uploading, downloading and sharing all that sensitive data, only to later hear on the news about hackers, viruses, malware and ransomware?
No one wants to live in constant paranoia in the internet age, but it’s hard to outrun that ominous feeling, like we’re always one false move away from allowing some anonymous cyber criminal in to exploit our privacy. It’s a harsh reality, but thankfully having a VPN service (Virtual Private Network) in your corner can offer significantly better online protection.
But what exactly is a VPN? In a nutshell, a VPN makes your data exchanges more secure, creating a virtual encrypted tunnel between your device (computer, tablet, smartphone) and a VPN operated server. Since all traffic is routed through this tunnel, your data is a lot more secure from hackers and snoopers. With the server in a different location, or even country, it will appear as though you’re on its local network.
VPNs were originally created to securely connect business networks together and allow staff to access the network from their home office. However, these days VPN services are growing in popularity and are used for many other reasons such as protecting yourself from suspect/malicious WiFi hotspots, and gaining high levels of anonymity online by masking your true location. You can also access geographically restricted content (like video streams), and protect yourself from being logged while torrenting.
There are plenty of advantages to signing up for a VPN service, if only to encrypt your online life and remain un-snooped – not because you’re necessarily trying to hide something, but because you have nothing you particularly want anyone else to know about. After all, it’s YOUR data, right?
And we’re not just talking about cyber criminals crashing the party and stealing your information. If you keep up to speed with the headlines, you may be aware that the NSA’s surveillance capabilities are pretty mind-blowing, apparently capable of analyzing almost all internet transmissions. If it bothers you, a VPN can help in that regard, encrypting your data and diminishing the chances of it being traced directly back to you.
So there you have it. This is what a VPN is, does, and why you should arm yourself with one, if only to make your online life safer and a whole lot more private and secure.