Easy, Secure Internet Access: Three Benefits of Getting a VPN – For many of us, the internet constitutes an escape from the rigors of daily life, a veritable utopia where we can learn anything, see anything, and be anything. Whether you’re getting on Tiktok on your lunch break and trying to determine if it’ll be a good day by watching a pug stand up, streaming movies with your significant other on a Friday night, or surviving a zombie apocalypse with a team of your best friends, the internet can provide a dazzling array of services that entertain us. Unfortunately, there are individuals and organizations out there that have a vested interest in controlling or limiting our access to internet services, or worse, have the ability to procure and sell our information through that same access.
The unfortunate reality is that we live in a world of big data, where our internet activity is a marketable commodity, and nothing we do is treated as sacred or above being purchased. Your internet service provider has likely been tracking your activity across websites and selling your information to the highest bidder, and the things you post online and your browser history are likely tracked by corporations looking to use them in their marketing strategy. While it’s likely impossible to cut these interferences out of your life entirely, you can take steps to ensure that your internet access is protected and your data stays secure, keeping the things that make you happy while cutting out the things that don’t.
One such step is procuring the services of a virtual private network (or VPN).
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What is a VPN?
VPNs act as secure, encrypted channels through which you can connect to servers without your activity being spied on or tracked. It works by changing your IP address and funneling all of your activity through an encrypted tunnel of sorts, making it impossible for your ISP, corporations using shady tracking tech, and malicious third parties to follow your activity as you browse. While no substitute for basic security measures like reliable antivirus software, VPNs can undoubtedly help keep your data private: and in a world where data has its own profitable marketplace and everyone seems to be looking to collect as much of it as possible, that is an extremely valuable service indeed.
Also, it’s important to note that VPNs aren’t free, and there’s a vast marketplace out there for VPNs of varying reliability that provide different services and work with various devices. Make sure to do your research on whichever VPN you wind up going with, as you’ll want to go with one that’s compatible with your devices and provides the best protection. Purchasing a VPN is an investment; make sure to make it a good one.
1. Protection from ISP Throttling
ISP throttling isn’t technically legal, being banned by net-neutrality laws, but it still happens, and the recent lifting of some of those restrictions has paved the way for ISPs to find exploitable loopholes. ISP throttling is basically what happens when a particular corporation pays off ISPs to slow down your connection to other services compared to that corporation. In short, when you notice your Netflix connection is playing without loading interruptions, but your Hulu seems to be struggling to chug along. While this practice is not legal even with the more limited net-neutrality laws that exist today, ISPs are now taking payments from corporations in exchange for “fast lanes” of access, doing the same thing under a different name.
The benefit of having a VPN is that you will be able to bypass ISP throttling. The ISP won’t be able to track your internet activity, leaving them in the dark about which services you’re using and making it impossible for them to impact your service. You can watch Netflix and Hulu all you like without a sudden dip in service for either of them.
2. Ability to Secure Free Programming
This is significantly less important than the other two benefits, but it’s a neat trick. Your VPN will alter how your IP address looks to the services you use and the websites you visit, even changing your location. As such, with some VPNs, you can set your location to a different country to procure additional content from streaming services like Netflix and Shudder. As mentioned, it’s a significantly smaller benefit and doesn’t justify purchasing a VPN on its own, but not enough people know about it, and it’s an elegant way to procure free entertainment at no additional cost.
3. Staying Safe on Public Networks
When connecting to public networks, you’re essentially opening yourself up to an unknown number of potential looky-loos. With data being shared across a network that’s so publicly available, anyone could be watching, and one wrong move could lead to your information being irrevocably compromised. Luckily, the private channels created by VPNs also protect your data from being seen or stolen on public networks, providing an extra layer of security when you’re watching Youtube in an airport waiting room or accessing your bank account at the supermarket.
VPNs – A Beneficial Investment for Most
While it may seem overcautious or like an unnecessary expense, you’ll find that as technology continues to develop and cybercriminals get more creative, being too cautious can be a virtue. It’s dangerous out there, and if you want to keep using the internet safely and securely, you’ll need additional measures to keep your information safe and sound where it belongs – in your hands.