7 benefits of using a virtual private network (VPN)

The internet is arguably one of the most significant inventions of the past century. It streamlines the way in which we communicate, access news, find information, work and more. Unfortunately, though, the internet has also opened the digital doors to privacy and security threats.

According to a survey conducted by Pew Research, 59% of internet users believe complete anonymity is impossible to achieve when online. When you type something online – email addresses, passwords, personal information, etc. – it may be intercepted by a hacker. Thankfully, a virtual private network (VPN) can protect you from privacy and security threats by masking your online activity. If you’re skeptical of using a VPN, check out the following seven benefits they offer.

1) Data Protection

The most significant benefit of using a VPN is data protection. Usually, any data you send or receive over the internet is unencrypted, making it susceptible to theft. Whether you’re logging in to Facebook, accessing your email account or buying products online, a hacker can precisely see what you are doing by infiltrating your internet connection. For example, a hacker may steal your email username and password, using it to take over your account and send spam messages to your friends and family.

A VPN protects against data theft by creating a secure tunnel through which you can access the internet. With a VPN, all data you send and receive online is encrypted. So, even if a hacker infiltrates your internet connection, he or she will see a mix of scrambled characters instead of legible text.

2) Hide Your IP Address

A VPN also hides your internet protocol (IP) address. Whenever you access a website, you provide that site with a unique IP address. Like a street address, no two internet connections have the same IP address. As a result, many websites track and log users’ IP addresses, using this information to target users with invasive ads. A VPN hides your real IP address, however, by showing a different IP address to websites instead.

Furthermore, your IP address reveals your geographic location. Anyone can find the region in which you live using an online tool like www.iplocation.net. While this won’t show your exact address, it will reveal your country, region, city, and internet service provider (ISP). Using a VPN, you can conceal your real IP address to protect against this snooping.

3) Wi-Fi Security

If you use public Wi-Fi on a regular basis, a VPN is a must-have tool to protect against data theft. According to a recent Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report, public Wi-Fi hotspots are vulnerable to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. This occurs when a hacker snuffs out data sent by other users on the network. The hacker connects to the public Wi-Fi just like everyone else, after which he or she exploits a vulnerability to access the other users’ data.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should avoid using public Wi-Fi. Instead, you should use a VPN for an added layer of digital security. After connecting to the Wi-Fi, immediately connect to the VPN, which ensures all data you send and receive is encrypted and protected from MITM and similar forms of cyber threats.

4) Bypass Regional Restrictions

Individual websites and web-based services have regional restrictions, meaning either all or part of their content is restricted to specific countries or regions. Netflix and other streaming service providers, for instance, often have regional restrictions. You might be able to access a particular movie on Netflix, but users in a different country may not be able to see it.

You can easily bypass regional restrictions using a VPN. As previously stated, VPNs hide your real IP address, so websites and web-based services don’t know your actual location. They’ll still see the IP address provided by your VPN service, but you can often choose your preferred address from the service provider.

5) Enhanced Cybersecurity

Some VPNs feature additional cybersecurity measures to provide an even higher level of security when using the internet. If you attempt to visit a website containing malware, for example, the VPN may notify you, allowing you to back out before any damage occurs.

6) Lower Prices On Airfare, Hotels And Car Rentals

You might be surprised to learn that a VPN can yield lower prices when booking airfare, hotels and car rentals online. Many online booking services such as these show different rates depending on the user’s behaviour – and they track this behavior via IP addresses. If you’ve searched for high-end hotels on a travel website in the past but didn’t make a purchase, that site may jack up the prices the next time you search for a hotel.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that using a VPN will always lower the prices of airfare, hotels and car rentals. Not all booking websites show different rates based on users’ behavior. However, using a VPN is still a great way to conceal your IP address and possibly save some cash in the process.

7) Conceal Online Activity From Your ISP

Finally, a VPN conceals your online activity from your ISP. Neither a hacker nor your ISP can see what you are doing when connected to a VPN. You can visit any website you want without fear of your ISP watching or otherwise tracking your activity.

So, why does it matter if your ISP tracks your online activity? Well, some ISPs may throttle your bandwidth when visiting certain websites or using web-based services. Previously, net neutrality protected internet users from this type of prejudice. In December 2017, however, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality, giving ISPs greater freedom to block or slow down access to websites.

As you can see, a VPN is a smart investment that offers many benefits. Whether you want to protect against cyber threats, conceal your IP address or bypass any regional restrictions, a VPN is an invaluable tool for all consumers and business owners who use the internet.

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