A VPN (Virtual Private Network) achieves two main functions: first is to mask your real IP address, thus making it impossible for snoopers, websites, or even your ISP to track your online activities; second is to secure your data using specialized protocols so that it is not corrupted or stolen by cyber crooks or malware.
Although a VPN will cut down your normal connection speeds by up to 30% in some instances ( or not at all with some providers we recently tested and reviewed – like Hide.me) , the benefits it provides are worth it.
Here are 7 reasons why you need a VPN.
1) Keep Intruders and Malware At Bay
Many Internet users are unaware of this, but a lot of public hotspots are very prone to intruders. Most public Wi-Fi spots do not use strong encryption and this makes it very easy for savvy users to eavesdrop on your email conversations. There are countless programs that can be used to intercept unsecured Wi-Fi signals. With a VPN, all of your traffic over the unsafe Wi-Fi will be encrypted to keep it safe from prying eyes.
Prevent Malware Attacks : In addition to intruders, the threat of malware on the Internet is very real and ever getting more sophisticated. The vast majority of new malware cases are Internet-based and this only goes to highlight the seriousness of Internet malware.
A VPN creates a secure tunnel that acts as an additional layer of protection against the most pervasive forms of malware, especially the automated types of malware.
Note, however, that you may still unwittingly download malicious files if you don’t have reliable anti-malware protection. Therefore, in addition to a VPN, you must augment your computer’s security with a trusted anti-malware utility.
2) Unblock Geo-restricted Content
Popular streaming websites such as Hulu and Netflix restrict access to their content to specific regions. This means that many Internet users outside the US and other countries where those channels broadcast cannot access popular and TV shows.
A VPN assigns your computer a new IP address based in an unrestricted country, thus enabling you to bypass censorship filters.
3) Bypass Governmental Blockage
Many governments have made it a habit to enforce blanked blockages to social networking websites and other sites they deem as a threat to their culture or authority. However, many VPNs have stealth technologies to bypass these blockages.
4) Unblock Websites At School Or Work
Since many people spend a lot of time on social media websites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, among others, many organizations and schools now restrict access to these websites. A VPN enables you to unblock any restricted website. Moreover, a VPN scrambles your traffic so that it becomes indecipherable and, therefore, unreadable by network administrators.
Use P2P Networks With Privacy As you probably know, P2P sharing is fiercely fought by various music and film organizations for legal reasons, but mostly for profit reasons. Basically, those organizations want to stop Internet users from sharing movies and music on the Internet.
If you’re a P2P user, a VPN is a must have. If you don’t want the risk of civil law suits and copyright prosecution, you should be willing to spend a few dollars a month to protect your identity.
5) Mask Your VoIP calls
Internet telephoning (Voice-over-IP) is a cheaper alternative to traditional phone calls especially when making international calls. However, VoIP is less secure and relatively easy to eavesdrop on even by intermediate hackers.
If you frequently make Internet calls using Skype, Lync, or other VoIP services, you should consider using a VPN to secure your conversations. While your monthly bills will increase a bit and your connection will slow down, your personal privacy is what matters most.
6) Prevent Search Engines From Tracking And Logging Your Browsing Habits
Believe it or not, almost all search engines are spying on you. While they are not directly intruding into your online communications, they do catalog your searches and log most of your online trail such as the websites you search for and visit after a search.
All this info is then tied to your IP address and subsequently used to customize advertisements sent to you. Although this logging might seem unobtrusive, it is in many ways a risk to your privacy. So don’t let search engines track your online activities; use a VPN to mask your real IP so that whatever you do online remains private.
7) Protect Yourself When Researching Sensitive Information
The Internet is an information repository where users search for any kind of information including sensitive stuff such as info about your competitors, sensitive topics regarding wars or violence, and any kind of investigative research.
If you find that you need to research a sensitive topic on the Internet, it’s in your best interests to ensure that your IP is not traceable in case of future reprisals. Once again, since a VPN assigns you a new IP every time you connect to the Internet, your real IP stays hidden and so no one will be able to trace you.
Because You Have A Right To Privacy The Snowden revelations revealed the sheer scale of unabated (and mostly illegal) spying that governments carry out on their citizens, particularly the US and UK governments. However, all the aforementioned reasons notwithstanding, you have a right to privacy and to send and receive information on the Internet without any surveillance.
Although total privacy and anonymity may be impossible to achieve for Internet users, using a VPN goes a long way to ensuring your right to privacy. It is also one of the best and few ways you can protest against ‘unlawful’ government surveillance.
There is so much at stake when you surf the Internet without any protection: cyber crooks, hackers, government surveillance, prying websites, and many other threats are all lurking online waiting to get a grip on your information or even cause malicious damage in case of malware.
A VPN is becoming an indispensable tool for ensuring your online safety and privacy. The best VPN providers are premium services and that is where you should look once you’re ready to subscribe. You can check Our full review and current coupons for the VPN we use and recommend – ProXPN here in this article.
Note: This post was updated on November 26, 2016 to reflect some recent findings and extra information we felt like it was worth sharing. We hope the changes are beneficial to you and you don’t mind (much) the late update.