Even If You’re Now Secretly Googling For “What is VPN?”
Yes, basically, you might need a VPN even if you currently don’t know what that is… Because you see, whenever you connect to this global computer network (that the internet is), privacy can have a huge impact on what you’re getting out of it.
You may not recall what you had for lunch yesterday. No one’s blaming you, so much has happened since yesterday… But if you have this habit of ordering online, your Internet Service Provider could even tell you what you had for lunch last year on this same date.
Oh, don’t worry, Google knows it too. And that food delivery restaurant where you first tried Thai? Yes, they know it too. So much so that you can get a generous discount or, on the contrary, have your bill raised consistently… Because, that’s right, who remembers? You certainly don’t…
Now, even if you don’t order Thai food online every once in a blue moon, you should still read the following. What we’re trying to say is that location-based price targeting is a real thing. It doesn’t have to be about food, it can even involve your research for renting a car or buying holiday tickets online.
No, this isn’t to scare you into thinking that everybody is spying you online!
Though you might think so… Haven’t you heard of Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower talking about the federal government’s mass surveillance habits? Or about the US Senate and House of Representatives’ votes against forbidding ISPs to sell their clients web browsing data to different advertisers?
Anyhow, this article is about helping you realize that everyone who wants can spy you online.
And just making sure that you only navigate on HTTPS-encrypted websites is not enough. Because yes, that kind of protection would normally keep your data safe. But it doesn’t make it private. Your Internet Service Provider sees what URLs you’re accessing, crystal clear. And just like stated above, many others can see it too.
If you don’t like the sound of that, remember: that’s what VPNs are for.
Are there certain things about your browsing history that you would like to keep for yourself? Then, consider using a VPN, at least for certain web searches.
Are you curious to find out more about the perks that come from keeping your personal information private? Yes, you can do it, even when jumping into this pool where everyone exchanges information with everyone.
If so, read on to find out more. Because the more you read, the more you know. And the more you know, the more you can benefit.
What is a VPN? How does it work? How can it work for you?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. With its help, one can create a secure connection to pretty much any other network available over the web. And even though the popularity of VPNs is only now beginning to soar, the option has been around for a while.
At first, VPNs were used to create a secure connection between two business networks. Or even between a business and a home network. They mostly served in office environments or allowed people to access their office network from home, completely secure.
Since VPNs forward your entire network traffic to the network you connect to, they open the gate to a wide range of benefits. Remote access to local network resources is just one of them…
Simply put, when you’re using a VPN, you actually connect your device (be it PC, laptop, tablet, or even smartphone) to another computer (also known as server) from the web, using that computer’s internet connection.
If the server you connect to is located in another country, by using it, it will appear as if you are navigating the web from that country. Can you anticipate all the opportunities that derive from here?
To sum up, using a VPN will allow you to:
- Keep private the data that you are accessing;
- Fake a different location than your real one, which will remain hidden;
- Obtain access to information that you normally wouldn’t have access to, because of your real geographical location.
So, most people will prefer using a VPN to skip certain geographic restrictions (like getting full access to Netflix content from anywhere in the world, not just when in the U.S.). Protection when navigating online from a free Wi-Fi network, anywhere from the airport to the corner coffee shop, is not necessarily unrealistic… Though only a few people would truly use the VPN for that. And still, the number of reasons for using a VPN goes way beyond the three above mentioned. What can you do with it, specifically?
Shop online anonymously and enjoy the perks
It might haven’t occurred to you, but many online sellers are lurking for you to return to their website. And when you do that, they show you a higher offer than what you saw last time. Say you’re surfing the web looking for anything related to car rentals, hotels, or even airfare.
If you come back, they assume you haven’t found anything more attractive and you’re already determined to buy from them. And so, the price that you now see will be different from what originally caught your eye.
That didn’t just happen, you were tracked and specifically targeted. If you want to avoid that in the future, ensure your online privacy with a decent VPN and by adjusting your internet browser privacy settings.
Skip the nasty location-based price targeting practice
That’s pretty similar to the situation we previously mentioned. Still, location-based price targeting doesn’t take into account whether you are a returning prospective buyer or not. It just looks at your geographical location and decides what price you’re supposed to pay.
Do you think it’s fair? Local supermarket chains practice this, at least with specific items sold at different locations. They call it an attempt to tackle the local competition. But when you’re shopping online, you’re supposed to benefit from the same prices as anyone else, regardless where you’re coming from, right?
Wrong. In any case, not real. Needless to say, using a VPN will help you appear as if you were shopping from a different location than you really are. Consequently, you’ll benefit from a better price and stop being discriminated for where you’re living.
Play online and stay online with VPN protection
Doesn’t seem quite intuitive for you to play games while using the VPN? Perhaps you have never tried to play a US-based game when you were overseas, on vacation. But that’s not all! For the most obvious benefits, you can be sure that your account credentials (including credit card information if you paid for the game) will remain secure and safe.
To go even further with anticipating the benefits of playing games using a VPN, it also gives you access to more powerful servers. A faster gaming server that otherwise wouldn’t have been available to you can be easily accessed through VPN. Talk about faster connection speeds to play the game…
On the less obvious though not impossible side, VPN connections will help you stay away from DDoS attacks. What, you have never had a gaming rival that takes the competition so serious as to try messing your internet connection and taking you out of the game?
Enjoy all the extra safety you can get with online shopping and banking
It is so hard to ignore the convenience of making online payments. At the same time, the fear that your sensitive banking information could get in the wrong hands can cripple you. Don’t let that fear prevent you from enjoying an otherwise extremely helpful service.
Whether at home or while traveling abroad, whether simply reviewing your bank account information or looking to place an online order… Like mentioned, looking for the https icon in the URL bar is no longer enough…Sure, it is always worth avoiding the websites without the https lock icon, but why not walk the extra mile and ensure VPN protection?
Using the VPN is more a matter of taking the plunge
It sounds fancy, you’re not sure where to start from, you keep telling yourself that you’re fine… If you really want to, you will always find reasons to postpone installing a VPN. But hopefully, after reading the entire above, you are no longer in doubt.
The main reason why people use VPN is that it helps them protect their data and hide their location. When you can make your internet-connected computer appear as if it is located in different parts of the world, the possibilities are almost endless.
Try access your home network when you’re away from home. Or your business network when traveling abroad.
Try hiding your browsing activity from literally anyone – from your local network to the Internet Service Provider.
And, why not, go ahead and beat whatever internet censorship you’re dealing with. You don’t necessarily have to use it for watching adult content when at work… But, like we said, accessing your Netflix account from outside of the country is one very attractive option.
Where should you start from?
You’ll find plenty of individual VPN services online. But if you’re particularly concerned about identity protection, consider one of the top antivirus software providers that include VPN protection in their top-tier packages.
Among the best-rated antivirus software we already had the chance to review, we were certainly impressed with the VPN options provided by: Norton Antivirus (check their Norton Secure VPN), AVG Antivirus (see the AVG Secure VPN), Avira Antivirus (remember the Avira Phantom VPN?) and Avast Antivirus (with their Avast SecureLine VPN).
All these can be purchased as extra features on top of different antivirus packages. If you’re more of a fan of Bitdefender or even Bullguard, look up for the Bitdefender Premium VPN or the Bullguard VPN. As you can see, there are plenty of reliable options, you just need to do a little research and see what works best for you, depending on your needs and the specifics of each VPN offer.