Why do I need a VPN?

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.


VPN in action

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?

VPNs and Net Neutrality

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.

VPNs and investigative journalism

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.


What should I look for when choosing a VPN?

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.


Conclusion

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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