It’s a padlock for your digital life — 10 reasons why EVERYBODY should use a VPN
VPNs used to be just something that was reserved for corporate employees, allowing them to securely log into their company intranets safe from prying eyes. But if the news about increased hacks from nefarious individuals and even governments continue to increase, more and more people are turning to personal VPNs to up their digital security.
The reasons for this are myriad. But in an increasingly connected world, security and privacy is paramount. We do more on our computers and phones than ever before these days, from banking to communicating, so it stands to reason that you want your data nice and secure.
For this reason, everybody should use a VPN.
A simple Google search reveals that more and more people are turning to VPNs in order to access the internet as it was designed to be accessed. Take this post from Quora, for instance:
“In the contemporary digital world, it has become a necessity to use VPN for all those who wants there online activities private. There are many laws that invades people’s privacy by monitoring their online activities and keeping their tracks on the internet. Plus, the geographical restrictions on the internet is another big reason, because internet is supposed to be border less, but unfortunately it is not. These are two most important reasons to use VPN.”
But what is a VPN, you might ask? It stands for “virtual private network” and the VPN is just a secure connection of networked computers. “Networked computers” simply means “the internet” and a “secure connection” means that digital security keys are sent to between the two computers talking that ensure no other computer can pick up the data being sent between the two. In other words, the data is encrypted.
Why do you need a VPN in your life? The most obvious reasons are as follows:
- Anonymity: VPNs keep all your online activity and communications secure, along with your identity making them a must-have for anyone that is concerned about hackers, snooping or their privacy online. They also prevent your ISP from tracking your activities and allowing you to visit websites that aren’t allowed in your country, like Pirate Bay or streaming sites.
- Different IP Addresses: You can browse the web from different IP addresses, which is great for when you’re traveling. For instance: say you’re a British national in the US and you want to watch the BBC. Simple, just login in with a UK IP and you can. And it works the same in reverse, giving US citizens access to US content while outside the US.
- Wi-Fi Security: If you’re logging onto public Wi-Fi networks like the ones used inside airports and coffee shops, a VPN will keep your details secure, hiding you behind a layer of encryption thereby making it impossible for hackers to access your personal data.
A lot of people in the past few years have become familiar with VPNs thanks to Netflix. How it works was simple: you install a VPN, activate it and, BOOM, you’re watching US Netflix. Netflix in the US, in case you didn’t know, is VASTLY superior to what we have here in the UK. And by vast, I mean like the difference between a petrol station garage shop and Tesco Extra.
I’d like to say this is the main the reason for why VPNs are so popular, but the truth is they have been around for a lot longer than Netflix. The benefits of using a VPN to access different regional versions of Netflix, however, did push the idea of VPNs into the mainstream – hell, even my mum has one!
The image below is from last year, but it shows just how many people, back then, were using a VPN to access Netflix.
But then Netflix did a very uncool thing; it started blocking VPN access.
This angered A LOT of people. I actually cancelled my subscription. Still, Netflix aside, I would never not have a VPN setup on my home network and the main reasons for this are detailed below.
If you want my advice on which VPN provider to go with… well, I’ve been using NordVPN for over 18 months and have been very impressed with its awesome service, great prices and brilliant customer service.
As we put more and more of our real lives online, encryption is more important than ever. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 10 reasons you need a VPN:
1. You download torrents
There are as many legitimate, legal reasons for downloading torrents as there are torrent users who download pirated movies. The problem is ISPs have a very hard time distinguishing between the two. That means they sometimes block users who are using torrents for legitimate reasons. A VPN would make it much harder for your ISP to see you are the one downloading torrents.
2. You want extra digital security
From our photos to our personal health records to our finances: most of our lives are online nowadays. Using a VPN will provide extra encryption and security when you are transferring your personal data between your computer and institutions.
3. You want to watch geo-restricted content
Live in the US, but traveling in France and don’t like the content Netflix offers while out of the country? Using a VPN could allow you to make it look like you are still in the US, thus giving you access to Netflix’s US catalog.
4. You are a researcher or a journalist
For many, most email services provide sufficient privacy when transmitting emails. But journalist and researchers send messages containing data that, more often than not, some people might want to try extra hard to intercept. Using a VPN will provide extra encryption for your message and even make you look like you are sending or receiving them from a location you are not in–helping to protect your physical safety if you are researching or reporting on a story someone doesn’t want to get out.
5. You communicate via VOIP services
While companies have stepped up their game encrypting texts and emails, they still lag behind on VOIP security. That is calls and video chats made over Skype, FaceTime and similar services. Using a VPN will add extra security and encryption to your video chats, making them harder to be intercepted.
6. You log onto public Wi-Fi at cafes
Public Wi-Fi hotspots like those found at most cafes are notorious hangouts for hackers. That’s because these hotspots generally have very weak security to the public can get onto them with little effort. Using a VPN will add the security to these hotspots that they should have.
7. You use online cloud storage solutions
Online storage solutions like Dropbox, Box, and OneDrive do a decent amount of work securing your files on their servers. However, when the files are in transit, that’s another issue altogether. Use a VPN to add extra encryptions to your cloud storage upload and downloads.
8. You’re a gamer
If you play a lot of MMORPG or other online games using a VPN can create a direct and secure connection between you and your friends. This means there will be less data from other players flowing down your network, which should increase game load times as well as limit any buffer overflows.
9. You don’t like Amazon keeping tabs on you
Most companies store cookies on your computer or they track your ISP (or both) to see what you do online and what you click on. They then use this information to show you ads. Amazon is notorious for doing this. But you can stop Amazon and other similar sites from building up an anonymous database of your clicks by using a VPN as each time you surf the web it will look like it’s a different computer because your IP will change each time.
10. You’re checking out a competitor
If you have a small business and are checking out competing businesses in the area, those business could actually find out you are looking into them relatively easily by looking at their Google Analytics data. Use a VPN to hide your true IP and ISP and location and that marketing firm across the street will have no idea your startup is checking them out.
The Best VPN Providers
When it comes to getting yourself a VPN, you really are spoilt for choice. There are literally hundreds of cost-effective options out there and all of them do much the same thing. Choosing one isn’t difficult, but narrowing down the competition can be a little, um, tiring if you’re looking online.
For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of our preferred VPN networks. These are the VPNs used by the team at KYM or those inside the wider Dennis Publishing technology network. All offer great value and great features, so whichever one you go for in the end, you can rest assured you’re using an excellent provider.