15 Reasons to Use a VPN

15 Reasons to Use a VPN

Are you looking for reasons to use VPN? Okay, you think you are a law abiding, ordinary citizen and there is no need for you to sign up for a VPN service. What could go wrong? Who would really want to target you when you are online? After all, you have nothing to hide and it’s not like you’re a part of the 1%!

Hope you don’t mind me saying this, but you’re so naïve! Even as you read this, and let’s hope you’re not reading this blog post on your laptop or phone using a public Wi-Fi connection with zero security. There are tens of thousands of cyber criminals trying to hack into the personal information, credit card details or internet banking accounts of unsuspecting people they see online every minute of every day.

You have no control over your privacy online, anyone could hack into your system. If it’s not a hacker or a cyber-criminal, it could be the government or a large corporation such as Facebook or Google. There is nothing sacred anymore in this world, and while every politician, bureaucrat or CEO talked about the importance of protecting privacy of ordinary citizens, their actions suggest something else.

No, there’s no privacy in this world. Get used to it. As the revelations by Edward Snowden (remember him?) show, every government agency out there, whether it’s the NSA, the FBI, the CIA, or for that matter the Russian, Chinese or North Korean intelligence, makes use of mass surveillance to advance their national goals.

Believe it or not, the US Senate and the House of Representatives recently voted to declare the regulations that would have prohibited ISPs from selling your internet browsing history to advertisers as null and void!  Hey, I’m just as patriotic as anyone, but don’t tell me that getting spied upon by my government or by Google is in my best interest. No way!

So what are you supposed to do? Are there any counter-measures you can take to safeguard your privacy whenever you are online?

Sure, you could make it a point to only visit websites with HTTPS encryption, but that’s not going to protect you from getting hacked when you exchange data with the website, such as your payment information. Your ISP will always know which URLs were visited by you.

For this reason and more, which we shall discuss here, you need a VPN, or a virtual private network. VPNs are private and controlled networks through which you can connect to the internet. Your connection with the VPN server is secure and encrypted and there is no way for your ISP to know which websites were visited by you when you use a VPN. Are you still looking for reasons to use a VPN?

Here are the Top 15 Reasons to Use a VPN

Reason #1: To protect yourself online.

When the internet was first developed, the emphasis was on keeping it open, so that anyone could access it. Not much attention was given to keeping it safe. Even HTTPS encrypted websites are a relatively recent development. What this did was to literally throw the doors of the internet to hackers, cybercriminals and other dangerous elements. Sure, there are a plenty of antivirus software out there which give you at least some protection against hackers, and from the malware, spyware or ransomware that they try to inject into your system, but that’s not enough. If you want to be 100% safe when you surf the internet or are on the social media, you need something better, such as a VPN. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic and ensures that you are 100% safe online.

Reason #2: To find a way around government censorship.

There are unfortunately a lot of governments that prevent citizens from accessing certain websites. If you’re someone who lives in an oppressive state where there is a lot of government censorship, then a VPN can help you find a way around that. You can use a VPN to communicate with people or the international media without your government getting to know about it.

The VPN allows you to stay anonymous, even as you fight the oppressive regime online on the social media – on Twitter or Facebook – or through hard hitting blog posts or comments on online portals. Everything you do online will be protected through an encryption, so there is no way for your government to know about your activities.

 Reason #3: To avoid getting hit by located-based price targeting by online stores.

What you probably didn’t know is that many online stores display different prices for the same product based on where you are browsing from. So if you want to buy an eBook on Amazon, you could be charged $3.99 for it if you’re from Sri Lanka and $13.99 if you’re from the UK. One way to get around that is to use a VPN so that Amazon doesn’t know where you are from.

You can further cloak your identity by using a digital wallet to make the payment, and not a credit card or debit card. If you’re a big reader of eBooks, this could potentially save you hundreds of dollars a year. Same for shoes, furniture, smartphones and a variety of other items.

 Reason #4: Watch your favorite shows when travelling abroad.

One of the drawbacks of vacationing abroad is that you may not get to watch your favorite shows from back home because of the geo-restrictions on some countries from accessing some channels. With a VPN, this should not be a problem. You can stream your favorite TV shows, sports broadcasts, news and video feeds no matter which country you’re travelling to. Because of VPN you can even watch the Super Bowl in Spain, a soccer-mad country which has no interest in American Football.

Reason #5: You are a journalist investigating into a politically sensitive issue.

VPN can be very helpful to journalists, researchers, activists or whistleblowers who are under threat because of their efforts to expose corruption, authoritarianism or extremism in their respective countries. VPN ensures that your online activities stay hidden from the government or secret agencies. You can use the VPN to clock your IP address, hide your internet traffic and do your research without worrying about being found out by the powers that be.

 Reason #6: Allows you to do market research without getting identified.

Are you a business owner or an executive that needs to do market research on the competition without them finding out about it? In that case a VPN can help you hide your tracks. VPN is used by marketers all over the world for this reason.  It cloaks their IP addresses and makes them practically untraceable.

Reason #7: Encrypts your data completely.

The VPN encrypts all data that you exchange online, whether on the social media, on a remote website or server. As long as you have the VPN app running on your computer, any transaction made with a remote server will be encrypted. The VPN acts as a private tunnel through which you can transmit the data. It keeps your data hidden even when you are using a public Wi-Fi.

 Reason #8: Boosts your online gaming speeds.

Have you noticed how your ISP slows down your online gaming data whenever you are playing a game on the internet? That’s because online games take up a lot of data and ISPs slow them down deliberately to provide a level playing field for everyone using the internet. So how can you overcome this?  When you connect to your favorite games through a VPN server, you can play as you wish at a top speed without worrying about the speed or bandwidth concerns. The ISP will have no way of knowing that you are playing games online, so cannot possibly restrict you in any way.

 Reason #9: So that you can have a private and secure voice chat.

Are your online conversations on Skype or other VoIP apps truly private? What if someone from outside is listening to your conversations? A spy, a hacker or a stalker? How can you prevent that? You can protect your conversations on Skype, Google Hangout and other VoIP networks by making sure that you are on a VPN whenever you are online. This can prove to be a matter of life and death to you especially if you’re living under an authoritarian regime. However, you have to be careful here, especially if you are on Skype – if your VPN connection is too slow, Skype could drop your chats because of their “low quality”.

Reason #10: Use Google and other search engines without having your searches logged by the ISP.

Whether you like it or not, search engines such as Google, Bing and others catalog every web search you make. Your online searches are logged along with your IP address and this information is used by Google or Bing to target you with customized advertising campaigns. This makes things easier in a way for you as Google is able to predict the future searches that you might want to make with the information. But there is a risk that that the cataloguing of searches might lead to an embarrassment in the future if someone was to stumble upon them.

For example, if you search for thing such as “male enhancement supplements” or “how to divorce my husband in California” on Google, that could stay on your browser for eternity. Imagine how embarrassing it would be if someone else using your system – your partner, friend or co-worker – was to see that! By getting a VPN, you can cloak your searches and ensure that anything private and personal stays that way.

 Reason #11: Download and Upload P2P files without anyone knowing about it.

Another reason to use VPN is that you can download and upload P2P files as you like without anyone knowing about it. Mind you, Bittorrent P2P (peer to peer) networking is seen as nothing short of copyright theft and software piracy by many companies, governments and organizations.  You shouldn’t do anything that carries the risk of penalization. Music companies and industry bodies such as MPAA detest P2P file sharing and users are strictly forbidden from sharing movies or music online.

So, I’m not asking you to do anything illegal here. But there are a number of legitimate things you could share on P2P networks and there is nothing wrong with that. But to make sure that you are not targeted by music companies or by Hollywood studios for sharing files, it’s better to be on a VPN network when you are using a Bittorrent. This will protect you from any sort of surveillance and will ensure that you don’t get sued by a large corporation for copyright infringement.

Reason #12: Allows you to share files online without getting targeted by hackers.

One of the issues with sharing files on a cloud storage app such as Dropbox or Google Drive with a coworker or an associate is that the exchange is not perfectly safe and there is a risk of getting hacked. There are many hackers who work for agencies that specialize in industrial espionage. That’s why you should be very careful when sharing files online with someone.

There is always a risk that a third party could hack into the system and steal your data. Could a VPN help? Certainly, the VPN encrypts your data and protects you against such risks. But for this to work, you should make sure that the members of your team or the person you are sharing the data with is also using a VPN, otherwise there is a risk that your files could be hacked at their end.

 Reason #13: You can access Netflix and other streaming content no matter where you are located.

There are many countries where Netflix is not available because of copyright agreements. If you’re from India, for example, you can access US-based streaming media providers such as Netflux, Hulu and Pandora through a VPN service. You don’t have to worry about any geo-restriction. The VPN service manipulates your computer’s IP address and makes it appear like it’s a U. S. -based system. This unlocks access to Netflix even if you are from a country where the streaming service is not available. This makes the $10 to $15/month that you spend on the VPN service very much worth it.

Reason #14: You can use public Wi-Fi with confidence.

Did you know that every time you use a public Wi-Fi connection to surf the internet, you could be hacked? You should certainly not log into your internet banking account when you are using a public Wi-Fi for this reason. There is always a hacker or two hiding in plain sight in spots where public Wi-Fi is available, waiting to pounce. Public Wi-Fi does not provide any encryption security to users, which makes it so dangerous. So the Wi-Fi at Starbucks – better not use it as it is not safe.

Unless you have a VPN. VPN makes even the most unsafe public Wi-Fi safe by encrypting the data and making it impossible for even the most sophisticated hacker to penetrate into your system. A VPN is a must if you are travelling, as you will spend a lot of time in hotels, restaurants and coffee shops with public Wi-Fi. A VPN makes sure that you are well protected.

 Reason #15: Helps you go beyond the restricted network at the workplace or at a university.

If you are a student at a university, or an employee of a large corporation, you will be well aware of the restricted network at your school/workplace. There will be an “Acceptable Use” policy in place for browsing the web, which has to be adhered to at all times. A lot of companies block their employees from spending time on Facebook or Twitter, or watching videos on YouTube when at work for obvious reasons. Now, that makes sense, as you shouldn’t be browsing the internet for fun when you’re working.

Still, if you really want to find a way out of these restrictions, you can sign up for a VPN service, which costs $15/month or less. That would allow you to do as you please, check Facebook, Twitter or any social media site, visit your favorite blog or shop online when at work or at school, without the authorities finding out. Who am I to judge what you want to do with your time!

Finally…

These are your 15 reasons for using VPN. Privacy is your right and no one can take it away from you. Never trust any government, organization, or large corporation, and don’t expect them to respect your right to privacy.

If there is anything they hate, it’s the openness or transparency of the internet as that takes away the control they have on you. That is one reason why you have such mass surveillance programs as revealed by Edward Snowden.

What can you do? Sign up for a VPN service – Virtual Private Network.