Internet privacy and international censorship regulations are becoming a major issue for everyday users. As a matter of fact, a recent poll has shown that 95% of Americans surveyed were either somewhat concerned or very concerned about how companies use their data. As such, VPN usage has skyrocketed in recent years.
You may have heard of VPNs in passing but what are they exactly and how could they benefit you? First things first – what is a VPN? Simply put, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a type of software which is used to encrypt your Internet traffic. A VPN will mask your online identity by hiding your IP address from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and any other third parties such as advertisers, hackers and cybercriminals.
How does a VPN work?
Wondering how a VPN can securely hide your IP address? Well, when you usually connect to the Internet your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will process the request and direct you to the particular site that you intend to visit. This process enables ISPs to see everything that you do online as well as enabling them to track your behavioural patterns. ISPs have been known to use this powerful position to sell your personal data to third parties such as advertisers as well as to reduce your connectivity speeds.
On the other hand, using a VPN will direct your traffic through a separate VPN server; thereby hiding your IP address from your ISP and encrypting all of the personal information that is sent or received from your computer. As such, equipping yourself with a VPN with prevent anyone (from ISPs to advertisers and cybercriminals) from accessing your personal data and spying on your Internet browsing activities.
What’s more, a VPN also enables you to view content that would have previously been censored within your country; such as viewing Netflix UK, BBC iPlayer or another foreign streaming service from within the United States and vice versa. You can do so by assigning a foreign address to your remote VPN server which will enable you to circumvent Internet censorship regulations and view all manner of multimedia content at your leisure. In fact, a GlobalWebIndex study reported that 50% of the people surveyed use a VPN for better access to entertainment whilst 34% use a VPN for better access to social networks and news services. These VPN services become especially useful when you consider that certain countries have been heightening their censorship regulations.
To sum up, listed below are some of the main benefits of VPNs;
- Provides you with a higher level of security against cybercrime by encrypting your IP address and Internet traffic,
- Preserves your privacy by masking your Internet browsing history from your ISP,
- Circumvent ISP connectivity controls so you can access and download content at a faster rate,
- Prevents your ISP from selling your personal information to advertisers and third parties,
- Bypass Internet censorship regulations and content restrictions in order to safely view foreign content.
What are the best VPN services?
A Comparitech infographic has shown that 42% of respondents use VPNs either every day, almost every day, or 4 to 5 times a week. Consequently, if you are going to invest in a VPN which you will use on a regular basis then you want to make sure that you choose the right one!
- NordVPN – Enables you to secure up to 6 desktop and mobile devices at the same time, options range from 1 month to 1 year and 3 year plans,
- Private Internet Access – No traffic logs, 7 day money back guarantee, unlimited bandwidth and instant set-up capabilities,
- Cyber Ghost – Provides access to over 1300 global servers, unlimited bandwidth and traffic, secure up to 5 devices simultaneously and operates a strict no data logging policy,
- Express VPN – 24/7 customer support services, 30 day money back guarantee and offshore privacy protection with no activity logs and no connection logs.
What are your thoughts on VPNs? Are they an essential security service in our modern world? Let us know your thoughts on VPNs in the comments section below!