Cybersecurity and cryptography are one of the hottest topics of discussion in the technology world – ever since Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower made shocking revelations about the mass surveillance practices of several governments and also thanks to the rise of online piracy.
Have you ever been logged on to a public Wi-Fi network and was wondering if someone was able to see your online activity? Given the circumstances and advances in software, it would be possible to trace online activity and compromise your privacy.
That’s why VPN technology has made a transition from a “nice thing to have” to a “must-have” for many users of the internet.
What is a VPN and how does it work?
A VPN ( Virtual Private Network ) is the best solution if you are looking for safe browsing. It creates a secure encrypted tunnel between you and the remote server operated by the VPN service. All your internet traffic is routed through this tunnel, so your data is secure from prying eyes. This means that your traffic will be exiting the VPN server, thus you will have the IP address of the said server – masking your real identity and location.
Why would I need a VPN?
A VPN has many utilities for various scenarios, let’s have a look at a couple of them:
More secure messaging
When we talk about messaging, the first services that pop into our head are WhatsApp, Skype, Snapchat – yes, things have come a long way from simple text-based emails, no we can send instant messages to people all around the world. The issue when it comes to messaging apps is that not all of them are encrypted, meaning that there is a potential for that message to be intercepted and read.
Using these messaging services through a VPN provides a higher level of security with the inherit encryption and keeps conversations where they belong, in private.
Voice over internet protocol services – VOIP
This service is revolutionary because it enables digital voice communication at a lower cost than traditional phone lines by routing calls through the internet.
This is revolutionary – but again, unsafe. Someone can simply just tap individual subscriber lines, meaning that VoIP calls can be acquired and analyzed in bulk. By using a VPN, these calls will get encrypted meaning that it will take some serious decryption skills to gain access to the call, making it a lot safer for the user.
Secure online gaming
Using a VPN for gaming? – yes, it sounds like a bad idea, but the fact is that it does offer some advantages. Let’s begin with anonymity – you can keep your account and credit card details safe by encrypting the link between you and the game server.
A VPN can also be used when traveling abroad – it can help with overcoming geo-blocking restrictions, so, for example, an American can continue playing a US-based game while traveling. Connecting to a VPN can also yield faster connections speeds and less ping – because you will be connected to a faster gaming server, which would not be possible without a VPN.
Staying away from the prying eyes of the governmentIn some countries, the internet is oppressed and censored by the government. This can hinder efforts to communicate outside of the regime and prevents access to sites that we all take for granted. Also, when you will be traveling to such a country, you will also be subject to this online censorship- so a VPN is necessary if you want to freely surf the web and communicate with the rest of the world.
And one of the most common uses for a VPN is Secured public Wi-Fi
When you are out and about, staying connected to the internet is often necessary – and free wi-fi has become an important commodity of staying in touch with family members, friends, and business colleagues. Using a Wi-Fi connection won’t chew through your data plan. But, by using a public Wi-Fi network can be fraught with hazard – this includes scammers pushing fake Wi-FI connections and being hacked or infected with malware. Here is where a VPN steps in, with a modern encryption protocol, it will protect you and your precious data from these types of attacks.
Prevent location-based price targeting
Businesses don’t just target their ads at customers, but they also adjust their pricing as well. Just like as supermarket chains may adjust the price for an item at different locations due to local competition, online businesses will adjust their prices depending on the region you are accessing their services from. By using a VPN, you can choose the server’s location and make the online shopping site think that you are shopping from another region – where the prices are lower.
VPN services have made their way form a service that was first used by a certain group of people to the mainstream. They provide a better way of securing your internet browsing experience and can offer you a sense of security when you’re online using a public connection.