Cybersecurity Basics: What Is a VPN

Cybersecurity starts and ends with a simple click. One click can lead you to more knowledge or to a malicious link that will drain your bank account.

Various cyber hygiene practices are given on the internet, and in each article, there is one thing that keeps repeating—use a VPN. So, what is a VPN? Should you try out that free VPN trial that you have been glancing at for some time, or is this just another sham?

What is a VPN?

A VPN is a service that protects your connection and enhances your online security. With a click of a button, your device connects to a server that can be anywhere in the world and routes all the internet traffic to it. The real IP address (the unique address that identifies your device online) gets masked, and the data goes through secure and encrypted tunnels. This protects you from man-in-the-middle attacks on public Wi-Fi and from hackers overall.

Cybercriminals, third parties, and advertisers are interested in your browsing habits. They want to know what you search for and what websites you visit. With a virtual private network, you’ll have more privacy. Data encryption will guarantee more security and protection and fewer prying eyes.

Why Do You Need It?

The basic premises for a virtual private network are security and privacy. But the benefits keep piling on. Here are some of the things you can do with a VPN.

See also  Mobile App UX Best Practices

Use Public Wi-Fi Without Fear

Public Wi-Fi often works like a carnivorous plant. Let’s take the Venus flytrap as an example. It emits a strong scent that attracts insects, and when they land, the Venus flytrap captures them and eats them.

Similarly, hackers can set up a Wi-Fi connection, and you’ll think it’s completely safe to use. Instead of capturing you like the Venus flytrap, hackers peek at your activity, accounts, and passwords. They can steal your identity and money and make your life a living nightmare. 

However, not all hope is lost. A VPN encrypts your connection, helps you avoid malware, and makes public networks safe to use.

Bypass Geographic Restrictions When Traveling

Lying on a sunbed on a warm beach is how most people want to spend their days. It’s hard to come up with something that can make it better. Well, what about watching the finale of a sports game or streaming an episode of your favorite show when you go back to your accommodation?

You don’t want geographic restrictions to ruin a perfect day. A VPN can help you bypass location issues when streaming content while traveling. The same thing is true for remote working and learning. You can use a university or work network no matter where you are.

Bypass Price Discrimination

Let’s say you’re waiting in line for a coffee-to-go. The guy in front of you orders an espresso, so you decide to get the same thing. When it comes time to pay, they charge him $2 because he’s a local and charge you $5 as a tourist. Price discrimination is not fair.

See also  8 Things to Do After Buying a New Phone

Well, that’s exactly what happens when you book hotels, flight tickets, and car rentals. Popular websites track your IP and charge you based on where you’re browsing from. So, a trip to Italy costs differently depending on whether you’re in the UK, Germany, Sweden, or the United States.

The same thing happens with subscriptions on streaming platforms, game deals, and even buying books! To experience cheaper online shopping, clear your cookies and use your VPN to switch countries. Don’t overpay for the same service.

How to Pick the Right VPN?

There are dozens of VPN providers. How do you know which one is the best? The answer depends on your personal preference. If you’re a gamer, you’ll need a service that has servers nearby, so you have lower ping. If you’re more cybersecurity-oriented, you’ll need a provider with added protection tools.

While doing your research, you can use a free VPN trial or subscribe to a service that has a money-back guarantee. Usually, you’ll have up to a month to test the VPN out and see whether it’s the right one for you.

You might be on the fence to try out free VPNs, but it’s always better to go for the premium version. Free alternatives usually come with ads, limited bandwidth, and a slew of problems like tracking and collecting your data.