Since our technology is ever-changing, it only makes sense that our needs for certain aspects of comfort, performance and privacy would change as well. Take VPN—Virtual Private Networks—for example. The need for a VPN in today’s modern scenario where almost all banking and purchasing is done online is undeniable.
With so much sensitive information flowing in and out of your computer each and every day—not to mention your personal data that is stored on file with your bank, the IRS, the government, your insurance companies, the stores you do business with, etc—it’s critical that you do everything in your power to protect yourself. One crucial component to this protection are VPNs. Here’s more about them and why you need one.
What is a VPN?
As we mentioned above, VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. This is simply a group of networks that operate over the internet that connect users to remote data centers. This means you can access a local area network (LAN) when you are not physically in that local area. What this does is it hides your location and protects your identity.
A VPN is launched on your computer via a VPN client and you log in with your credentials. Your computer then communicates with a trusted server that is not in your area for authentication and once that takes place, every action you take online—as well as all of your data—is encrypted and secure, preventing theft and/or eavesdropping.
In short, a VPN secures your connection to the internet and protects you from data breaches by encrypting and securing everything that you do, including all of your information and the information of others that you interact with (on your end). Many schools and businesses have been using VPNs for years, but now we’ve come to a point in time of internet security where individual VPNs are necessary.
What Kind of Individuals are Using (and Need) VPNs?
Practically speaking, VPNs are needed and used by any computer user who wants to bolster their security. They are also used by anyone who wishes to access resources from networks that they are not connected to physically. Here is a look at some of the common categories of internet users who need and use VPNs:
Students. Students use VPNs because they are buying books online and transmitting personal data (e.g. signing up for courses with their social security number). This kind of personal data is out in the open, especially on a college campus where unsecured networks are the norm. One hacker is all it takes to capture an entire campus’s information and ruin countless lives. Students also use VPNs to access resources outside of their network, for example information database on foreign studies that is only available outside of the student’s country.
Workers. Similar to students, workers in a company are also on the same network as others while they are dealing with sensitive information. This information can be their own or that of clients, but either way, it needs to be protected. Most students and workers have VPNs provided to them free of charge.
Those Who Download a Lot. People who enjoy downloading movies, music, TV shows, books, data, etc. from the internet put themselves in peril. Whether the downloading is legal or illegal, the fact remains that your information can be stolen during the download. Even worse, simply because you have a torrent app on your computer, a company can place you on a list and if they ever decide to bring suit, you might find yourself in a lot of trouble (and owning a lot of money i.e. Napster). If you use BitTorrent, the only way to keep yourself safe from legal repercussions (even if it’s legal now, it might not be in the future and your guilt will be passed forward) and fines is to use a VPN.
- Those Who Want Privacy and Security. Of course, if you simply value your privacy and security, there are not many better ways to ensure it than a VPN. Your communications will be encrypted meaning not even the NSA can hack into it, whether you are at home or on the go. Make even the most unsecure connection secure and protect yourself.
- Travelers. If your business or pleasure takes you all over the world, you’re going to run into some problems when you try to watch shows and movies or access sites from back home. Many sites are restricted by location, especially countries, so if you don’t have a VPN to connect to LANs, you will be out of luck.
Of course, there is no real “right” reason to start using a VPN other than the fact that your privacy and safety depends on it. If you’re fine with having all of your emails (a la the Sony hack), your pictures (a la the Fappening) or your browsing history put out there for all to see, then you probably don’t need a VPN.