If you’re disillusioned with the current state of the net, you aren’t alone.
The proliferation of technology that has allowed all of us to be connected via digital spaces, while beneficial and contributing to the growth of our culture, has also made all of us vulnerable in entirely new, unforeseen ways. Social media sites actively encourage us to post our data online and communicate with entities that see us as their next meal, as consumable, marketable assets that produce pricey, all-powerful information that can be used for advertising campaigns.
Internet service providers (ISPs) monitor our activity constantly, and when they’re not selling our activity to these corporations on the down-low, they are actively slowing down our service as we attempt to connect to services and applications that haven’t paid a corporate premium. And amidst all of this, cybercriminals are also getting more creative, as an ever-rising number of data breaches cost these same corporations millions while also putting us, the consumers, directly in jeopardy.
Given that our government officials have been bought and paid for by these companies, effectively dismantling the net neutrality regulations that were meant to protect us, all we can do to protect ourselves is take the security of our data into our own hands. You might have seen a lot of advertisements going around for virtual private networks, or VPNs, lately; It turns out there’s a good reason for that, as VPNs are actually one of the most effective tools customers can use to keep their data secure. While cybersecurity best practices and safety tips will no doubt get you some results, VPNs are the only consistently reliable means to keep your data secure and free from the prying eyes of corporations and cybercriminals alike.
Are you interested in hearing more? Let’s talk about what VPNs are, as well as their many applications that will help keep your data safe and secure.
What is a VPN?
A VPN is basically a system that connects your computer to a private server in another location, funneling all of your internet activity through a secure, encrypted channel as you browse. VPNs cloak your IP address from the watchful eyes of anyone who may be spying on your network, keeping your activity hidden from cybercriminals on public networks as well as your ISP on your home network. Since anyone with the requisite know-how can view activity on public networks at any time, a VPN has loads of potential security applications, enabling you to access a secure server from anywhere (even on the go). While a VPN won’t protect you from malware (so you’ll still need to follow cybersecurity best practices to ensure your computer isn’t compromised), it will prevent your devices from being tracked, and hacked, and your information from being leaked.
VPNs also have inherent flexibility, with many providers offering options that give you access to their server across all of your devices: cell phones, laptops, tablets, and even set-top boxes like the Amazon Firestick can all be covered by your VPN, should you choose the right provider.
How to Use Your VPN: A Shield From Prying Eyes
VPNs have several applications worth exploring, especially for those who want to keep their data secure in an age where data is stolen on a daily basis. For your consideration, here are a few of them:
- Preventing ISP throttling. While ISP throttling is still technically illegal under the remnants of net neutrality law, ISP still has the ability to create fast lanes of access for paying companies, slowing down other services by comparison. VPNs cloak your activity from your ISP, making it impossible to see which services you’re accessing and ensuring you have a uniform, quality access to everything.
- Bypassing geo-blocks to access the content. Content on popular streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu tends to vary depending on where you are in the world, with different offerings being given to different countries. With a VPN, you can change your IP address to reflect a location in any given country, earning you access to hours of free TV in seconds.
- Peace of mind while accessing public networks. Want to connect to airport Wi-Fi without a hacker seeing you as an opportunity to make some extra money? Use a VPN while connecting to public networks to ensure that your data is kept secure wherever you are.
While a VPN may seem like an unnecessary precaution to the uninitiated, VPNs will only become more necessary as our technology continues to become integrated into every part of our lives. If you find that any of the security concerns mentioned above ring a bell with you, you might want to consider investing in a VPN, to keep your data and your funds safe and secure.