There are numerous threats and obstacles online that require the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is a service originally used by businesses that provides you with the means to connect your device to an offsite secure server using an encrypted connection. This connection prevents anyone from knowing what you are doing online and lets you mask your IP address by rerouting it through another server. Users of all kinds have found many uses for them.
They are very easy to set up. You will likely have a program or app to install on your computer (as would be the case with ExpressVPN shown above or any well-regarded VPN), in which case all you have to do is follow the instructions onscreen. Otherwise, all you have to do is go to networks, then continue on to connection settings where you get to the below screen (this is a Windows 8 computer):
Once there, click on the VPN section and add the information your VPN provider will give you. Once you do that you will be ready to enjoy your benefits.
Here are five reasons you need a VPN:
Have you ever encountered this while you are browsing the internet looking for shows to watch? This is what is known as a regional restriction or a regional block. Browsing from America, this user was not able to watch Doctor Who online, as the BBC Player only allows in user with British IP addresses. A VPN helps one to appear as though they are browsing the internet in Britain, allowing them to watch whatever they want on the BBC Player. The same can be done with nearly any country on Earth with a strong internet presence.
Netflix is a popular problem for travelers as well. Once they leave the country, they usually get a screen stating that Netflix isn’t available in their country yet (much like above). Getting a VPN that gets them by regional restrictions lets those travelers enjoy their favorite entertainment while at the airport or cooped up in the hotel on a rainy day. They just use it to appear as though in America.
Much like regional restrictions, governments will often take down or block websites they don’t like. Since governments can’t easily take down websites hosted outside their own borders, they force ISPs or take other measures to censor the material. This results in some pages not displaying and instead showing a different page, which can vary in nature. They are often official looking and meant to intimidate. Any in the United States will probably recognize the following seal, of which a version is nearly always included:
A Virtual Private Network setup will get you around these blocks and censorship by simply routing your traffic through a country that has no such blocks. This allows you full access to the wealth of information on the internet and allows you to protect yourself through knowledge.
Unless you are using a VPN on your device, coffee shops and cafes like the one above are the worst enemy of your online security. The reason for this is that they are the most common providers of public networks. These networks are frequented by hackers and cybercriminals that use sniffer programs to intercept your data. This data can include passwords, financial information, even the contents of your emails.
One you connect to a VPN, all a hacker will be able to get from you is the information shown in the highly detailed screen below (nada).
The total security a VPN provides against outside intruders is really that potent.
This is only a sampling of the information that is being collected from you. A VPN helps you keep some of this information to yourself by keeping your IP address hidden. If you think that no one can easily find it, go to this website.
You’ll find something like this, except without no blacked out portions. If a simple website can determine your location, what makes you think a hacker can’t? A VPN will hide your location by rerouting traffic through a different server.
Finally, you won’t have to worry about organizations tracking you while you use torrenting websites.
Kickasstorrents, as shown above, would normally be a potential site where you could torrent and get caught due to ISPs tracking your IP address. Now you will have deniability and the only thing your ISP will be able to know is that you are using a VPN, which is a perfectly acceptable thing.
In addition to being able to get around regional restrictions like those found on Netflix and government censorship, VPNs can help in dealing with other practical matters when travelling. Some report using the service to get deals on flights due to regional pricing. Some use it to more easily scope out the kind of pricing they can expect in a region before moving there for work (finding the regional page for a site when outside it can be tricky).
Travelling shoppers hoping to send something home might find something along the above lines (the Amazon UK site). A traveler wanting to check on his Amazon account might just find that they are on a completely different place online, and may have difficulty getting to the page of their home country. A VPN can make that process a whole lot easier for this and other sites.
Any other thoughts? Any questions about why you might need a VPN? Any experience using VPNs yourself? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.