VPN stands for “virtual private network.” By hiding your IP address, they can protect your internet connection and online privacy. The VPN provider owns a remote server that your computer will connect to, creating an encrypted, point-to-point “tunnel” for your data to pass through. The remote server acts as a shield, preventing your private data from being read by unsafe websites or internet connections. Encryption scrambles the data passing through the tunnel into code and anyone without the encryption key cannot read it. The data is encrypted as it reaches the remote server and is sent, decrypted, with a new IP address, on to the website you are connecting to. This encryption hides your personal data, your IP address, and helps you avoid firewalls and other website blocks online.

What are they beneficial for? 

By routing to a remote VPN server, you can benefit by remaining anonymous and protected online. Your data should remain yours, and VPN usage can give you more peace of mind. People use VPNs for many reasons, including securing their data, for flexibility when working remotely, accessing region-specific resources, avoiding censorship and surveillance, and for preventing third-party tracking. 

  1. Securing data
    Sensitive data is being transmitted online all the time. Your emails, credit cards, and location is potentially available for tracking and exploitation. This is especially true if you are connected to a public network. Using a VPN encrypts this sensitive data and browsing activity so that you cannot be exploited.
  2. Working from home
    VPNs allow remote workers to access company resources privately from anywhere with an internet connection. Remote workers have the opportunity to work from wherever they are comfortable which gives them more flexibility while ensuring that their data and the company’s data stays safe.
  3. Accessing region-specific content
    Some websites and online services restrict their media content to a certain geographic location, meaning that some online resources may not be available to you based on your location. With a VPN, you can appear to that website that you are based in its location of origin, allowing you to bypass the restriction.
  4. Avoiding censorship and surveillance
    Government censorship and restrictions can also affect regional access to some websites and online resources. Location encryption allows people in regions affected by government censorship to move freely online, avoiding the restrictions.
  5. Preventing third-party tracking
    By using online resources through a VPN server instead of your internet service provider (ISP), you can avoid having your browsing history tracked and logged. ISPs have the potential to sell your information to advertisers, the government, or elsewhere. You can prevent this breach of privacy by using a VPN.

Are they secure? 

Choosing to use a VPN is not so simple as trusting the security of the network. A company runs the VPN just as companies run every service. Finding a reliable company is the most important step when choosing a VPN. VPNs overall cannot prevent cookie tracking, or prevent your computer from getting viruses or being vulnerable to malware. A poor VPN provider may use security protocols that are out-of-date, leak IP addresses, or log and sell your data. Providers like these are unable to be trusted. While absolute security through a VPN can’t be guaranteed, your data will be all the more protected when trusted behind strong protocols and encryption.

Pros

Cons

Hide your private information online No complete anonymity
Prevent targeted ads Won’t protect you from cyber-attacks
Avoid bandwidth/data throttling Can slow your connection speed
Obtain access to geo-blocked services Some online services block VPN users
Reduce costs on network scalability Good VPNs can be costly

Cyber Attacks

A 2024 report revealed that VPN security concerns are on the rise. Vulnerabilities that are exploited include ransomware, other types of malware, and DDOS attacks. Despite the growing complexity of cyber-attacks in recent years, there are ways to mitigate the VPN as an attacker’s entry point into private data or infrastructure. Outdated and unpatched VPNs are the culprits behind recent breaches in data security. Up to date VPNs that are supported with a strong security team can prevent cyber attacks; it is important to choose a VPN you can trust.

Choosing Safely

A reputable VPN provider can increase the safety of your data when accessing the internet. There are a few key features to pay attention to when choosing your provider:

  • Up to date encryption technology
  • Multiple servers to choose from when accessing IP address masking
  • Kill switch to protect your data if your VPN connection drops
  • Zero-logging policy to protect your identity in the event of a breach
  • Secure authentication through multi-factor authentication or other secure login method
  • Reputation that boasts strong infrastructure, transparency, and knowledgeable support team

Pricing can be another question when choosing a VPN provider. Many VPNs offer their services for free, however, paid providers are worth the cost of your data security. The quality of the provider is much higher as the paid subscriptions help pay for the infrastructure, server maintenance, and support team.

What Can You Do?

We highly recommend taking the time to find a reliable VPN provider to encrypt and protect your data. 61% of Americans report that they have had their personal data leaked at least once. Knowing a majority of people are at risk, you can give yourself peace of mind by working with a VPN. Keep yourself and your data safe. Consider a VPN!