The internet is a bright and equally scary place. I don’t want to be a fearmonger but, almost everything and everyone is trying to gather some sort of information and keep tabs on people. This is especially true for government agencies, private organizations, ISPs (Internet Service Providers), etc. In fact, there are several organizations and companies that solely exist to collect all the information about the internet users and then segregate and sell them to potential buyers. These potential buyers will then use that data to target advertisements, sell merchandise, spamming email accounts, etc.
There are a lot of ways you are leaking your non-personal or personally identifiable data to the outside world and one of it is by using an unsecured and/or unencrypted internet connection. Besides leaking personal data, there are so many countries and office areas that practice some sort of internet censorship and limit users from what they could and could not do on the internet.
This is where the VPN comes into play to protect your privacy and anonymize your physical location and existence on the internet. Without further ado, let us get to know more about what does VPN actually mean and why it is important to use a VPN on a regular basis.
What is a VPN?
Virtual Private Network or more commonly known as the VPN is a simple yet complicated technology that creates a secure tunnel and encrypts the connection between your computer and the internet. It looks pretty simple, but let me explain it to you in more detail.
Normally, when you connect your computer or any other device for that matter, be it the smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc.., to the internet, the connection is unencrypted. When you are using an unencrypted internet connection. Anyone on the network or outside the network with enough skill can intercept the connection so that they can collect valuable information like your browsing data, usernames, passwords, etc.
Of course, if the websites you are visiting are using HTTPS then the connection is encrypted by default. But not all websites are using HTTPS.
In case you are wondering, whenever you are using a VPN every request you make will first be encrypted in your system and is then sent to a VPN server which then forwards your request along and sends the encrypted response to you. Thus providing a greater security.
Since your connection is encrypted while using the VPN, you will be able to access all the content securely. Moreover, most VPNs use a private server located in several different locations so that you can use the internet connection as if you are in that location and mask your real location data.
Why and When to Use VPN
Now, you might be wondering why and when you should use a VPN. Why VPN is gaining popularity? The answer to why you should use VPN is pretty simple and straightforward. If you want to protect your privacy, personal data, and other information on the public internet, then you should absolutely use a VPN service to secure your internet connection.
Here are a few occasions when you should prioritize using a VPN service. But do mind that the list below is not exhaustive.
To Secure Your Internet Connection
As I said before, the first and foremost reason why you should use a VPN is to secure your internet connection as the default internet connection is pretty insecure. This also ensures that no one including your ISP knows what you are doing online and cannot track you or collect the data. A VPN connection is also helpful in stopping different types of hack attacks like a man-in-the-middle attack, etc.
To Anonymize your Location
Most of you may probably know that every device that connects to the internet has a unique IP (Internet Protocol) address and that address can be used to roughly track your user location, if not precisely. Often times, this data is used by the advertising agencies to target advertisements for more sales and stuff.
So, if you ever want to spoof or hide your real address, then using VPNs would be a good choice. Since VPN servers that make requests on your behalf are located in some other place, it helps you anonymize your location.
To Access Locked Resources
This is one of the third most obvious reasons. Most of the time, so much content is blocked according to the region’s policies and you will not be able to access it unless you are in that region. A good example would be Netflix and Hulu. Unless you are in the US, you won’t be able to access those services even if you are a US citizen paying for that service. In those special cases, you can use VPN to access blocked resources so that you won’t be blocked from anything even when you are on the other side of the planet.
Safe browsing on a Public network
Although public Wi-Fi networks are hugely convenient, they are also an equally dangerous entity to your online security. Since anyone can access a public network, hackers find them lucrative as they can easily steal data from such a network.
This is where a VPN comes in. When using a VPN, you not only protect your virtual identity but also ensure your data security. A VPN uses encryption when it sends or receives data. Thus, anyone on a VPN network can easily browse the web on a public network without worrying about any thefts.
Avoid Data Throttling of your ISP
ISPs have become notorious over the years as they have started favoring the content of their choice. Although these decisions are colored according to profit and contracts, the burnt of them are on users. If you do not want your ISP to throttle your data speed, then VPNs are the way to go. Since VPNs hide your online destination, ISPs can’t throttle your speed.
Work From Home Security
Today, WFH is a cultural phenomenon. And VPNs have been a major contributor to it. VPNs allow users to stay secure on any network. It uses encryption to protect data. Thus, a user can easily undertake office tasks and projects without worrying about security.
By a Student or Worker
If you are on a work environment or in a college campus, then most of the internet resources are blocked by the system administrator. But sometimes you needed to bypass this restriction, you can use a VPN service to do so. When using a VPN service, all your connections are encrypted and re-routed so that the firewall filters fail to detect the actual request, which in turn lets you bypass any restriction in work or college environments.
To Download Stuff
There are several things that come into play when you download stuff from the internet and it is especially true if you are using something like BitTorrent to download legal stuff. No matter what you are doing, protecting your identity is a must if you are using peer-to-peer services as it has a greater chance of being tracked and nobody wants a notice at their doorstep just for downloading stuff from the internet. So, if you are using peer-to-peer services to download things from the internet then do consider enabling a VPN connection as it helps you protect your privacy at a greater level.
We strongly advise against downloading illegal stuff from the internet even with a VPN. It could do some serious damage both legally and via hack attempts.
Now, as I said before, the above list of different scenarios is not an exhaustive list and there are many more situations when you need to use a VPN.
That’s all for now and as you can see, it is pretty important and handy to use VPN in a lot of situations. Hopefully, that helps you understand what is VPN and why you should use one to protect yourself.
Do comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences about using a VPN service to secure your internet connection.