One of the biggest perks we as humans have today is the unlimited information flow provided by the internet at any given time.
As we live in times where we have access to global content and information we think little about our safety while browsing the internet. That is where VPN steps in.
What is VPN and how does it work?
VPN or Virtual Private Network is used to reroute your internet connection into a private, more stable one, with high encryption protocols and online security.
Functioning as a shield that masks your IP address, VPN ensures safety from any potential cyber-attacks, firewall breaches, or location tracking that may occur while browsing the internet.
By connecting to a virtual private server that can be located anywhere in the world you mask your online identity and location from prying eyes or attacks.
Common misunderstandings about VPNs
A VPN is a powerful security tool, but there are many misunderstandings and misconceptions about them. What a lot of people don’t realize with VPNs is that they are not a complete fix for every security issue that you might have, and when you use them recreationally you could run into problems.
VPNs are ideal for work scenarios where you need end-to-end encryption. Simply connect to your work VPN from your laptop and use that to access websites and the work network even when you’re working outside and remotely.
The issue comes with trying to use a VPN to make yourself untraceable – firstly, while all the traffic going through the VPN is encrypted and secure than any website SSL, it may be possible for law enforcement to demand a list of who is using a VPN, and if they keep records of who was using the VPN at any given time (which most will) then you are not truly untraceable while using the VPN.
Another issue is that you are using a Virtual Private Network at the same time as many other people – so, if you use a VPN with certain online services that forbid multiple accounts from the same household, you could end up facing punishment for that, because the service providers won’t know that you’re on a VPN – they’ll simply assume you’re running multiple accounts.
Many online services simply ban VPNs instead of trying to keep track of who is on a VPN or a proxy service, who is living in student residences, and who is simply account sharing and actually breaking the rules.
That’s not to say that VPNs aren’t worth using. The end-to-end encryption can be invaluable – but if you want anonymity then you should look elsewhere.
You’re highly unlikely to have account details stolen while using a VPN – unless the provider of it is someone that is unscrupulous themselves – but you should be mindful of the possibility when signing up to a new provider. Pick one that is up to date, and try to make sure that you know exactly where they are and what they’re logging into.
It would be frustrating to get a Virtual Private Network in Europe and then find out that when you’re on it you’re locked out of all your favorite Netflix shows because of issues with region locking, for example!
Understand what a VPN is supposed to do, and use it just for that purpose, and you won’t go far wrong. Accept that VPNs can sometimes be a little slow or sluggish, and that you will be better off if you use them for the reasons that they were intended.
Know that they are just one tool in the whole security arsenal, and that in the long run you should really be looking to have a setup that includes local encryption, secure passwords, a VPN, antivirus, firewalls, and lots of backups, as well as locks on your machine, to ensure that everything is OK and that your data is kept safe.
Is a VPN really necessary?
Although it is not necessary to use a VPN when surfing the internet it is always a good thing to have it when there is a lot of sensitive data being transferred on a daily or weekly basis. One of the main reasons why you need a VPN is to protect your personal information or company data from any potential malicious intent like hacking your e-mail account, exposing private or company data to the open internet, being tracked by third-party viewers and others.
Using the principle of tunneled protocol it ensures that the internet traffic being sent through it remains intact and safe from any harm that may intercept it on the way thus, providing you with not only fast connection and response time but with an extra layer of security for your traffic or data.
Again, Should you use a VPN all the time? well it depends on the type of things you do online. For example, If you do indulge in any of the few things mentioned below then its always a good idea to just keep your VPN on all the time.
10 Real-life situations when you need a VPN
As said above, VPN is a tool that will provide you with extra security when needed and ensure that your anonymity online stays intact but there are also other useful purposes to this software that may come to use in your everyday activity, Here are some:
Unblocking Netflix’s regional content
Netflix, as well as other streaming services, are usually license bound to certain territories or areas. This is usually due to streaming services having license deals with governments or their streaming laws. Using VPN you can change your IP address and by doing that bypass every geographical restriction.
Accessing online bank accounts while overseas
Simply out of security reasons, banks will often tie your bank account to your country and you will often find it hard to gain access to your bank account while traveling. VPN will enable you to connect to the server in your own country and thus providing access to your online bank account.
Protect access to public Wi-Fi hotspots
Using the public internet can bring harm to you and your data simply because these connections are not secure and often are viewed to have a potential for cyber-attacks or data leakage due to the fact that these connections are not safe enough.
VPN provides a safer, unbreachable connection between you and the internet to make sure all your data and information are safe.
Block malware before it reaches your device
A large number of VPN service providers have the option to block any malicious malware that may appear and this is simply due to the fact that they want to keep us as safe as possible while using the internet. Although these services may vary, the intentions stay the same.
Avoid ISP and web tracking
ISP or Internet Service Providers are usually bound to keep an eye on your internet data usually because of security and safety reasons for the government or anyone who they may have a license with.
By doing so they limit your online activities, but with the help of a VPN, you will become invisible to any tracking service and may explore the internet freely. This is one of the main reasons why you need a VPN.
Bypass Govt censorship
Most governments censor certain websites for political, religious or moral reasons and were hard to bypass until VPN made its way to the internet. Changing your IP address to that country you will be able to gain access to blocked websites.
Use WhatsApp in China
China is one of the most oppressed countries in the world with its government blocking any outside information or websites. Chinese Government has always shown aggressive attitude and taking bold moves to achieve what they call ‘internet sovereignty’.
China constitutes around 1/4 of the worlds Internet users, with average user spending almost 20 hours per week online. But the Government controls web activities, blocking sites like Google, Facebook and Twitter. Over 2 million people are employed to monitor online activities in the country who watches individual usage.
So, before choosing any VPN service, make sure its not banned in China and if you are from China, do checkout anti-censorship activist site GreatFire.org, which lets users see censored social content and provides tools to access blocked sites.
Beat YouTube censorship
We all enjoy a good quality YouTube video, but we all stumbled upon a video that was not available in our country. That is because countries put limitations on certain content on the website and using a VPN will allow you to run around those blocks and enjoy your free content.
Access Disney Plus (Disney+)
Like other streaming services Disney+ is unavailable in most countries, mostly due to geographical restrictions. Another reason why you need a VPN is that it will allow you to gain access to Disney plus as well as other streaming services.
Watching NBA and staying in touch with current events
NBA is a huge hit and it gains more fans each day but not everyone can enjoy this sport as easily as others can. You guessed it, this is where you need a VPN in order to stay in touch with your favorite teams and matches without missing a thing.
As we see above, VPN is a great tool that will benefit you in any possible way and there is absolutely no reason why you should not use one today. Hope this answers your question i.e should I use a VPN all the time?.