As we kick off 2017, consider adding “better online security” to your list of New Year’s resolutions. Let’s face it — we spend a good chunk of our time online, and with the increasing number of cyber criminals and over reaching government agencies all over the world, privacy is becoming a cherished commodity.
Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, allow you to regain some of your anonymity and add a much needed coat of encryption to your online life. If you’re not convinced, here’s a short list of 10 reasons for why you should be using a VPN.
1. When using public WiFi
As convenient as public WiFi hotspots may be, they’re usually far from secure. Ill willing (and aptly skilled) intruders on the same network can eavesdrop on your online activity. A VPN will help prevent a possible leak of sensitive data by offering you a fully encrypted tunnel to the internet.
2. When downloading P2P files
Though there are plenty of legitimate uses of P2P sharing, there are also many less legitimate ones (i.e. digital piracy). That being said, ISPs often have a hard time distinguishing between the two. As a result, your IP may end up being blacklisted, and if you fall into the pirate camp you might even receive a few copyright notices.
While downloading torrents over a VPN will likely slow down your bandwidth to the tune of 25% – 50%, your true IP address will remain hidden from anyone trying to decipher your identity. Regardless of what you’re torrenting, the privacy protection is well worth the manageable cut in download speeds.
3. To bypass your country’s censorship
Some countries, particularly those in the East, have a much more regulated internet than those in the West. Using a VPN is a great way to hop the geofence and access restricted content. Alternatively, you can also use a VPN to access content from your mother country while traveling abroad.
4. To secure your uploads to the cloud
In this day and age, cloud storage solutions such as iCloud and Dropbox are becoming increasingly more popular. Although they’re extremely convenient, and, for the most part, secure — there are some gaps.
Even if your cloud storage provider offers full encryption, your files aren’t protected until they’re finished being uploaded — meaning that there’s a possibility (albeit small) of them being intercepted in transit. A VPN helps mitigate this risk by tunnelling your internet connection through fully encrypted servers.
5. If you’re a researcher or a journalist
This point won’t necessarily apply to everyone, but if you’re a journalist, or someone working with sensitive information, consider using a VPN t0 secure your online communications. Aside from adding an extra layer of encryption to your email, a VPN will also spoof your location — making it seem that you’re sending and receiving messages from a location you’re not currently at.
6. To stop Amazon from snooping on you
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that big corporations like Facebook, Google, and Amazon are keeping tabs on your online activity with the intention of serving you more tailored ads. In order to prevent giants like Amazon from learning everything there is to know about your online habits, use a VPN to change your perceived IP address with every new browsing session.
7. When checking out your competition
If you own a business (both online or brick and mortar) you should use a VPN when checking out your competition. The reason being — your competitors can quite easily figure out that you’ve been checking them out by taking a close look at their Google Analytics data. A VPN will allow you to do all of your snooping without ever being identified.
8. To stop search engines from logging your searches
Virtually every search engine (aside from DuckDuckGo) is tracking and storing every search that you perform. These searches are not only catalogued for easy access to authorities, but are also linked to your IP address in order to serve you personalized ads.
9. Save on airfare and hotel booking
If you love a bargain, then consider using a VPN when making digital purchases. Whether you’re buying
stock photos or booking a hotel, make sure to check if the vendor implements regional pricing. Due to some large wage gaps from country to country, pricing may differ depending on your location. Though just a few digital retailers will offer variable pricing, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try.
10. For extra digital security
Finally, you should also be using a VPN if you want to add an extra layer of privacy to your online doings. From updating your health records to paying your mortgage, and everything in between, we’re doing more and more on the internet. A VPN will help secure the integrity of your sensitive data while it’s being transferred from your computer to an institution (i.e. your bank).
Hopefully this list made it clear to you that a VPN is an absolute must — if you care about your online security (which you should). If you’re interested in getting started, but don’t know where to begin, check out our VPN Comparison Guide for a comprehensive list of trusted providers.