Virtual Private Networks are services which provide third-party servers through which you can tunnel your internet traffic. These services allow for your traffic to be encrypted for greater security, and allow users to hide their IP address and other identifying information.
They can also route your traffic through different parts of the world, which adds another level of privacy and security while allowing you to potentially access content that is normally locked based on region.
Now, there are a whole lot of different VPNs out there. Some are free, some cost money, some are available on mobile devices, while others are strictly for desktop computers or even routers. This is a very versatile industry centered around privacy and security, so it can be hard to select the best VPN services from the wide range of options we have at our disposal.
To give you a better idea of how a VPN can help keep you and your privacy protected, we’ve compiled a list of 5 situations in which a VPN can help save your online privacy. There are threats to your identity and browsing habits lurking around every corner, so it’s important to stay informed and be aware of all the situations in which you are potentially putting yourself at risk.
This is going to be the most obvious one for most people. Torrenting allows users to download a large amount of data from clouds of other users who have downloaded that particular file. This has revolutionized the way we distribute media and files on the internet, but it also has a lot of potential for abuse by software or media pirates, as well as malicious actors looking to distribute their viruses and malware.
When torrenting, it’s important to remember that downloading copyrighted content is illegal, and your IP or other identifying features may be used to trace your connection in order to pursue litigation. This can lead to fines or jail time, which nobody wants.
In order to prevent this, you can employ a VPN, which will allow you to keep your IP hidden, and stop any law enforcement or malicious actors from gaining access to your machine or identifying information. Keep in mind that you will still need to be careful of what you download.
#2 Accessing Public Wifi Hotspots
Wifi is another piece of technology that has revolutionized the way we access information and digital services. People can log on to private wifi in most public establishments, allowing them access to the information age for free and out and about. While this is a huge step forward in terms of information freedom, it opens up a lot of avenues for potential abuse, as well.
For example, hackers can create illicit wifi hotspots, compromised with malicious software, designed to infect or spy on the traffic of devices which connect to the hotspot. This can also be done with spoofers that pretend to be legitimate or trusted wifi hotspots when in reality, they are spying on your connection. Other common methods of attack include man-in-the-middle attacks and signal scraping.
Some of the best VPN services will provide plenty of protection for you to access public wifi to your heart’s content.
#3 Accessing Potentially Hazardous Websites
When you’re browsing the web, doing research or looking all over for a particular file, you can sometimes find yourself on very sketchy corners of the internet. Lots of pop up adds, warning pages from your browser or antivirus, and other red flags should tell you that you’re putting your privacy at risk by accessing this information.
Malicious websites or advertisements can track your IP or install malicious software on your device without your consent or knowledge. One of the best ways to protect against this, if you must access such websites, is to use a VPN with a good malware protection feature while accessing such content.
#4 Posting or Sending Sensitive Information
If you’re a journalist, or blogger, or entrepreneur, or another professional who may need to send or post sensitive information over the internet, you are probably aware of the risks involved. Your information may not even be your own, in the case of doctors who need to send medical files for patients and businesses with large amounts of protected information.
Of course, loss of privacy in scenarios such as this can be disastrous. In the case of journalists reporting on authoritarian regimes, they can be captured and prosecuted if their identity or location is revealed.
#5 Accessing Internet On A Public Computer
Accessing the internet using a computer in a Library or at your school can also potentially reveal your identity to whoever runs the network. Of course, since it isn’t your machine, this is only really a concern if you will be logging in to sensitive services or sharing sensitive information. It’s always a good idea to know when you’re putting yourself at risk. Remember that knowing is half the battle.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you may not be able to install an actual VPN client on a machine for which you do not have admin access. There are some VPN services which you can use without a dedicated client, however, or through a client installed on another device such as your phone.