What Is a VPN, and Why Would I Need One?
You may have heard about VPN services that allow you to have an extra layer of security; access geographically restricted content; hide your traffic from your internet service provider and hide your location and browsing habits from the rest of the world. Your employer might be the one requesting you to use one when you are away from your office, but you still need safe access to your company servers.
Channeling your traffic through a VPN encrypts the outgoing traffic of your device making sure your online presence is anonymous to your ISP, employer, marketers, government, and anyone interested in your online behavior. All they see is that your traffic is going to a specific VPN hub and nothing else.
The flexibility and the anonymity that such VPN services provide make them an excellent tool for hackers who do not want to leave any traits that could potentially reveal their identity. Being a skilled hacker is not about cracking a system, but making sure that once you do, you do not leave traits that can lead back to you.
While hackers and tech junkies are known to use VPNs for the many reasons, there are a whole lot of regular folks from all over the world who enjoy the benefits of VPN.
So who are they and why they do it?
Security conscious people
Security-conscious travelers never connect to public WiFi networks unprotected. Hackers, or the admins of such networks, could be monitoring them. Instead, they connect to VPN that encrypts all incoming and outgoing traffic from their connected device. This is one of the ways that guarantees you that the admin, nor skilled hackers, will be spying, and possibly even recording, the data that goes through the router.
Grabbing an airline ticket at a lower price has never been easier. Sometimes there are significant price differences for flights that are offered to the US buyers when compared to British for example. While the currency exchange may add up, when you are looking for affordable plane tickets, it is always a good idea to check the fares from multiple locations so you can make sure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck.
There is nothing more frustrating than being in a hotel on the other side of the world and not being able to watch your favorite TV show due to geographical restrictions. And if paying $30 for a pay per view movie does not sound appealing, you can use VPN to access your Netflix account and play your desired content on your laptop from the comfort of your hotel bed.
Dissidents and people who want to communicate with people living in the free world
While here in the US, freedom of speech is a human right, this is not always the case in some foreign states such as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. Using VPN allows people from such countries to access content that is usually prohibited. Staying in touch with relatives living abroad could also be a challenge from time to time. If Facebook is your preferred way of communication, VPN may be your only solution for accessing it while in China.
The last thing you want is letting your employer know that over the last few days you’ve been spending all your mornings looking for new shoes on Amazon. Access to social media websites at work is also a distant dream for many employees. Using VPN service could let you bypass the restrictions and let you safely check out your Facebook feed from the comfort of your office PC or Mac. While it is understandable that employers want you to work all the time, sometimes people want their freedom, and having access to VPN might be the solution.
VPN is not only for hackers and technology-savvy people.
There are all sorts of people who use it, and the global usage is not showing any signs of slowing down. However, using VPN comes with some risks and not all VPNs are equal. While you might be anonymous when using VPN, you might want to make sure that you are aware of the risks, especially if you need to visit sketchy websites. Check out our suggestions for safe use of VPN.