As time goes on, the internet becomes an ever-more essential and present factor in our daily lives. This is especially true in the era of COVID-19 and with the general rise of remote work. The web allows us to do amazing things and has become almost inseparable from our daily activities.
It’s how we both work and play, how we keep in touch with our loved ones near and far, how we collaborate with coworkers, and share our ideas with the world. The internet also means we have that same world at our very fingertips.
Just about anything we could ever want to know is a quick Google search away. With it, we can create, learn, fact-check, and connect in ways that the generations before us never could’ve imagined.
It’s a great thing to have at our disposal. But at the same time, it can also be used for ill-intent – and it is. Cybercrime is rampant in the darker, more shrouded parts of the net, misinformation is perpetuated, and security risks are continually becoming trickier and trickier to outsmart.
Using a VPN can’t protect from all of it, but it can certainly help. Unsure what that is or why you should use it? Read further to learn everything you need to know about Virtual Private Networks.
What Is A VPN?
Before you get into the nitty-gritty of it all, it’s pretty critical to understanding VPNs’ basics. A VPN, also known as a Virtual Private Network, is a service/program that creates an encrypted tunnel connecting you and a remote server, transmitting data away from any wandering eyes.
Because there’s a remote server in use, your IP address is then associated with said server rather than where you really are. The result? Your location and identity are more anonymous, and you’re able to navigate the internet more privately and securely.
So, how does this work? Well, it’s all pretty straightforward and automatic. There’s little fuss on your part. Once you find a VPN service you trust and turn it on, you’re immediately connected to one of their servers, and your connection’s information is scrambled. Tracing and tracking efforts will then only turn up gibberish, keeping you safe while also helping you become less restricted.
The Benefits Of VPNs
Now that you know the basics of what VPNs are, what’s the real point of them? What are the benefits beyond vague notions of security? Are there even meaningful advantages, or is it just another unnecessary service we don’t even need?
The short answer to this final question is that VPNs do truly come with several benefits. The immediate one is that your sensitive information like identity, payment information, addresses, and other data’s significantly harder to access by malicious thieves, which is especially important when using public Wi-Fi. There are also other reasons to use VPNs, though, as they offer:
- Remote access – Hate having to be tied to a single device or your work desk? Ever needed to access files or programs that simply aren’t available to you at all times? VPNs allow a way around this inconvenience. Since it’s an actual network, you can access it remotely from other locations, remaining productive no matter where you are.
- Improved performance – Poor internet speed and performance has a tendency to get us down. They’re total nuisances, creating a barrier that makes us less efficient while also making us unnecessarily frustrated. Luckily, VPNs can improve upon this, improving bandwidth and overall useability. And who wouldn’t want that?
- Blocker and censorship bypassing – Censorship of important information is a genuine daily occurrence in various places worldwide. It’s just a fact of life for some, but that doesn’t mean it should be. When information is tightly controlled, manipulation is likely happening in the background. Using a VPN frees you from this on the web, allowing you to bypass blocked and filtered sites certain people might not want you to see.
- Low costs – On top of all these other great benefits, VPNs also come at affordable prices and little risk. Most services will have various subscription packages for you to pick from. Many will offer a sort of free trial period, and others even offer some features entirely for free. Thanks to all that, there’s little reason not to give VPNs the old-fashioned college try.
What VPNs Won’t Do
Virtual Private Networks are a fantastic resource for navigating the web safely and anonymously while also freeing up info and shrugging off arbitrary restrictions. However, they still can’t do everything. VPNs are not the end-all-be-all of internet security. There are most certainly limits to the tech, things it cannot do regardless of its stellar track record.
Most importantly, it cannot totally prevent you and your online activities from being tracked. For example, they don’t prevent internet cookies from doing their job. Even with a VPN, companies can still track your internet usage beyond just their website.
On top of this, there are also just specific gaps that VPNs can’t fully account for, spaces and tech that make full privacy almost impossible and make even some of the best security tenuous at best. VPNs are not the same thing as Tor and can’t guarantee the same safety. If someone wants your info bad enough, they can likely find it – they’ll just have to work harder at it.
Do I Actually Need One?
Yeah, VPNs aren’t the miracle solution we all might want. They can’t protect you from every single threat under the sun. Does that mean they’re useless, though? Absolutely not. Most all of us could still benefit from using one of the many out there.
The average person uses several different devices a day and will often access Wi-Fi connections other than just our password-protected ones at home. We’ll also store all sorts of uber-personal information on our devices, which could wreak havoc on our lives should they fall into the wrong hands.
An additional security layer can only be a positive choice, and VPNs are some of the cheapest and easiest ways to implement that. If you’ve got a little spare cash to burn and have found the one you trust – use it. Just be aware that not all VPNs are created equal. Some don’t hold up their end of the bargain, overcharging compared to the competition or flat-out slacking on their service.
Do your due diligence to weed these out. Visit PrivacySharks, read a few reviews, find out what VPNs to avoid, and see what other people recommend before committing yourself to a service. You’ll thank us later!
If you are interested in even more technology-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.