With an increasing focus on online security as our culture embraces the digital world, many users are considering how to protect their online identity and limit the visibility of their digital footprint. One tool that has seen increased awareness in recent years is Virtual Private Networks, commonly known as a VPN. While you might know a VPN’s primary function, there are several other ways in which a VPN can help you.
It’s important to understand what benefits a VPN can bring, and how it is used in day-to-day usage.
“Information Security (InfoSec)” (CC BY 2.0) by Infosec Images
Security as a key foundation
A VPN is a privacy solution because it ensures safe internet use whatever the activity. A foundation of a VPN is encryption and this results in traffic sent through a system of servers, which makes it unreadable to your internet service provider. Typically, your ISP will try to log or limit the use of their connection. Equally, there may be nefarious programs or individuals trying to steal your data if they are aware of your IP.
While that’s currently the function of VPN, in the future they might be required to do more, as a study by ExpressVPN on biometric identity risk highlights, there are threats that users might be unaware of currently. That study highlights the potential dangers of your biometrics (fingerprints, DNA, voiceprint, etc.) being stolen and used to hack your account. While that sounds like science fiction, the fact is many things from sci-fi movies are part of our daily lives today. That it’s being discussed should prompt you to think about upping your security, particularly on your mobile phone.
Competent VPN providers will ensure their service can be used on any device. Many don’t consider a VPN for their smartphone, but biometric data is frequently used on mobile devices to simplify security. One area of concern is public Wi-Fi, which represents a particular vulnerability as users will use this to save on data costs. This is because your data is openly transmitted for anyone to access.
“Hand typing username and password on his” (CC BY 2.0) by wuestenigel
Online streaming services are as popular as ever, but we’re not all getting the same bang for our buck. A VPN can extend your entertainment possibilities by providing you access to different libraries of content from different regions. While this can cause a few different options on Netflix, services such as the BBC iPlayer are only available to people in the UK, so a VPN gives you entry.
For those that travel often, accessing your favorite sites can be a tough experience if you are logging in from a different country. If you are heading abroad, you can simply use your VPN to virtually relocate yourself back home, so you can watch what was previously available. Don’t forget, in some countries data laws are different, and some content will be region-locked depending on existing contracts between the big movie publishers.
Gaining access to different markets to buy games or software can also be beneficial. We don’t all get the same deal and several companies will use your location to determine the price of their products and services. Developing countries will generally have a cheaper price and with a little browsing around, you could save a little.
While many of us are concerned about privacy and secure messaging apps for having encrypted chats are becoming more frequently used, a VPN provides an extra level of protection for your information and data. That they can also be used to access extra content or save money is just a bonus.