VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN creates a secure, encrypted connection so you can browse the internet and conduct online business while protecting your data and identity. Up to a quarter of all internet users are now employing a VPN as their must-have security software. Using a VPN allows you to surf and work online with a safe and minimally restricted internet experience.
It’s really a no-brainer when it comes to internet security. Erring on the side of caution is the wisest decision. But when it comes to how to set up a secure connection, simplicity for the user is also key. VPNs are easy to set up, and easy to use.
From the average internet surfer to small business operator, this added element of protection will put your mind at ease. Getting into the practice of adopting new methods that will secure your data is highly recommended. Take a look at all the reasons you need a VPN and how they apply to your online activity.
You’ve probably heard by now that public WiFi is a hangout paradise for hackers. Therefore, why would you entrust your internet connection to a cafe, an airport, a hotel lobby or even an AirBnB? Hotspots are weak on security so they can offer a wide public access, but the average user has no idea who owns the connection, or who else is using that connection at any given time.
If you’ve signed on at your local Starbucks, your computer is broadcasting to everyone else on that network that you’re online too. A hacker can eavesdrop on that activity and exploit or alter your data.
Like most people these days, you’re probably logging onto your bank account online instead of going into a brick-and-mortar office during working hours. Your credit card information and banking passwords are extremely vulnerable whether or not you’re logging on using a public WiFi or your home office.
You may be asking yourself why a VPN is needed if HTTPS connections are secure. HTTPS secures your communications between you and a particular website. That website still knows your ISP, but a VPN hides your ISP.
A VPN encrypts all traffic between you and the internet, including sites that may not use SSL encryption, not just one website like HTTPS.
Therefore while HTTPS uses a secure protocol, it is limited to the website itself, whereas a VPN covers you for your entire online usage period no matter what websites you’re reading, purchasing from, or working within to share data with colleagues.
It is not exaggerating to say that conducting any financial activity online without a proper security strategy in place is naive at best. Shield your private banking and purchasing information form thieves with a VPN.
The benefits of the modern age of technology are vast, but a standout is the ability to work anywhere in the world, at any time, without the need to walk into a corporate office and sit in a cubicle all day. Advertising executives, sales teams, conference leaders and more can check in to work, host meetings or send presentations from anywhere.
Given this ease of communications, security is the one key element that you need to conduct business on-the-go.
It’s not surprising that more and more globally distributed teams are required to use a VPN to access company data remotely. The office server holds proprietary information relevant to that company and therefore they’ll want to be protected when their employees are accessing work remotely.
VPNs for large companies require customized solutions from large-scale providers, so they may not be in reach for most people, but a solution like Namecheap’s allows smaller offices to keep internal data private.
Given that employees working remotely at global corporations use company VPNs, this should inspire small business owners and freelancers to follow suit. You may not need your own custom-built VPN solution yet, but as a business owner you should be using a VPN whenever handling correspondence, and you should insist that those you work with take similar steps.
Using a VPN to keep client information such as addresses and payment methods secure is a simple way to ensure that your reputation stays secure.
The base-level security on public WiFi networks is not to be relied upon. That fancy hotel you’re staying at with the password for guests seems legit, right? Think again! Most public businesses are not going to invest in robust security for hundreds of users at a time. The responsibility is on you to protect yourself.
Take for instance this example of an in-flight fee-based WiFi service: Steven Petrow, a prominent technology journalist was working on a flight, ironically enough, on a piece about digital privacy. He made the mistake of thinking his information was secure.
However, once he deplaned though, a passenger on that same flight boldly informed him he’d been hacking his files during the flight:
“I hacked your email on the plane and read everything you sent and received. I did it to most people on the flight.” He had verbatim detail of a long email that he repeated back to me essentially word for word.
Here’s another example of a leaky WiFi: Dave & Buster’s, the popular restaurant chain, offered free WiFi to their customers. However, they didn’t take any correct precautions and was open to third-party access. A hacker’s job made simple, Dave & Buster’s wound up leaking customer information. The Estonian hacker, now serving a prison sentence, installed malware and stole 240,000 credit card numbers.
With cybercriminals running global schemes like this, why don’t you have a VPN set up yet?
Net neutrality means information is given equal transmission priority without slow-downs or blocking of specific domains. Some say the end of net neutrality in the United States is inevitable. With the FCC threatening net neutrality, the needs for a VPN to maintain internet freedoms are becoming clearer by the day. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), your ISP could slow down your internet speed, sell your data to marketers, and track your movements online.
With the end of net neutrality, slow lanes and fast lanes will occupy the mind of every internet user. Fees and blockages will clog up your ability to freely access information and media. With a VPN you’ll be able to bypass a lot of the network congestion that’s just around the corner. Bypass regional restrictions not only in the US but around the world.
Investigative journalists, international rights workers and conflict zone reporters all utilize a VPN. To protect sources and whistleblowers, journalists can use a VPN to encrypt internet traffic and connect via a remote server. ISPs can no longer monitor messages or URL domain visits, and hackers can’t intercept vital data being shared. In these cases, professionals must be sure they use the correct type of “logless” VPN that doesn’t store online activity, therefore, the information is even more safe from potential leaks.
Not only can journalists protect their sources and data from being intercepted, they can also access vital content via remote servers that would otherwise be restricted at their current work location. Considering the current state of affairs for investigative journalism according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a VPN can contribute an added layer of physical safety in the field.
Not just any old VPN will do! Be cautious of free services as some VPNs have been outed as collecting your information, which negates the purpose of using one in the first place. Search for a subscription-based “logless” VPN because even though your ISP can’t eavesdrop anymore, the VPN can. If you’re getting a VPN for free, most likely your information is at risk yet again even if your data is just a little more secure than before.
Do a little research, read the contract and especially the fine print, and understand what you’re getting into with your chosen VPN. Once you’re confident in signing up with their service, you can relax knowing your data is more protected than ever.
Using a VPN is the way to go for any internet user with concerns for their privacy. There are over 50 million public WiFi access points across the globe, and the risks for a data breach are too high to ignore. Add an extra layer of security to your information for your customers, your reputation, and your financial interests. Those hackers won’t waste their time trying to break through and will seek easier prey elsewhere!
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Using a VPN allows you to surf and work online with a safe and minimally restricted internet experience.