Three benefits of using a VPN for online privacy and security

If you work remotely or enjoy watching TV shows from across the globe, you’ve probably heard of a Virtual Private Network, or VPN.

A VPN is software that basically creates a virtual tunnel between your device and the internet so you can browse safely, securely and privately – and experts couldn’t be happier that more and more people are hopping on the VPN bandwagon.

Here is how to use a VPN and the main benefits of using a VPN for online privacy and security.

What is a VPN, and how does a VPN work?

A VPN is a service that hides your Internet Protocol (IP) address and location and funnels traffic through a hosted server located somewhere else in the world. This process effectively sets you up with an anonymous and secure connection to the internet.

VPNs protect your online identity by blocking anyone from seeing who you are, where you are and what you’re doing – even if you’re using public or shared WiFi. They also encrypt any information you send and receive, keeping your communication private.

When to use a VPN

Thanks to these features, VPNs are particularly useful when:

  • Travelling. VPNs allow you to use the internet as if you were in your home country, no matter where you are in the world.
  • Using public WiFi. Do you ever jump onto shared WiFi networks at airports, cafes or coworking spaces? These networks can leave you vulnerable to breaches, while a VPN can safeguard your communications and identity.
  • Gaming. VPNs can help to prevent cyber attacks as well as reduce ping and lags by connecting you to a server that’s closer to the game server.
  • Shopping. It’s common for online stores to display different prices to shoppers in different countries. VPNs level the playing field so you have access to the best deals.
  • File sharing. By disguising your IP address, VPNs reduce the chance of hackers tracking your downloads.
  • Remote working. VPNs are great for businesses with employees located in various areas.

That being said, it doesn’t hurt to hop onto a VPN any time you want to browse online. It adds a layer of protection, privacy and internet security.

Three key benefits of using a VPN

Here are three key benefits of using a VPN.

1) VPNs protect your privacy online

Unfortunately, losing some privacy is a trade-off for using the internet. Internet service providers (ISPs), apps, websites, advertisers and even government agencies often collect and track users’ browsing histories and other data. They use this information for many reasons — for example, marketers might tailor the ads you see based on your demographic profile. But data usage can be malicious or at least, a breach of privacy. 

That’s where a VPN comes in. It prevents others from accessing your connection and encrypts your data, keeping your online activities secure and private. Some VPNs offer military-grade encryption, which is especially comforting if you deal with a lot of sensitive or confidential data online. VPNs also stop ISPs from storing and selling your browsing history – aka everything you open, watch and click – to advertisers, marketers or subscription services.

2) VPNs boost your online security 

Public WiFi networks are a prime example. These networks offer a convenient way to hop online while you’re on the go, without having to rely on your device’s hotspot. But this convenience comes at a price: security.

By nature, shared WiFi networks have fewer protections in place so that more people can use them, meaning they’re less secure. As you’re checking emails or scrolling social media at the airport, a cybercriminal could be tracking your online identity.

However, connecting to a VPN keeps your browsing history private. It can hide your banking details, passwords, sensitive emails and any other data you send and receive while you’re on public WiFi. The same principle applies to remote workers – investing in a VPN means employees can connect to your company’s network from wherever they are. It can then safeguard any confidential information your team accesses, such as legal documents.

3) VPNs reduce the chances of a cyber attack

Many cyber attacks can be traced back to unsecured networks and data breaches. VPNs work to secure your connection, even if you’re using a shared network, so you can browse in full privacy. Since VPNs essentially make your traffic invisible to outsiders, they make it much more challenging for hackers to intercept any data flowing between the servers.

As for data breaches, the encryption offered by VPNs means cybercriminals can’t rely on the tried-and-tested methods they use on public networks to steal data.

On a similar note, VPNs help to reduce the odds of identity theft. However, for maximal protection, it is recommended to protect your devices with antivirus software in addition to a VPN. ESET Internet Security offers a multi-layered defence against a range of cyber threats, including malware, ransomware and spyware.

Double up on your online security protection

VPNs allow you to browse anonymously online, wherever you are in the world, making them an excellent addition to a cybersecurity plan. However, VPNs aren’t an all-in-one solution simply because there’s a spectrum of cyber threats individuals and businesses alike have to deal with. Using a VPN in conjunction with antivirus software is the ultimate internet security combination for your devices.