Privacy and security are some of the most important elements in our modern society. Unfortunately, though, the average internet user doesn’t get much of either.
You might believe that your device is secure enough and that everything you do on it remains within the four walls of your home, but the reality is that it likely isn’t.
Unless you’re using a VPN to secure your connection, there’s a chance that your internet traffic is being monitored. Even if you’re not worried about your privacy, you should be concerned about cybercriminals trying to take advantage of the data that they can grab from your device. Cybercrime is on the rise, and there’s no better time to invest in some of the top VPNs on the market to ensure that your device is secure at all times.
If you’re not sure what a VPN is, keep reading to get all the details on this nifty cybersecurity tool. In this guide you’ll also get an idea of how to choose the perfect VPN that will suit your needs and preferences — that’s right, not all VPNs are the same! Let’s get started.
What is a VPN
You may have heard of a virtual private network before, perhaps better known as a VPN. The main priority of a VPN is to secure your internet connection by encrypting it. A connection that is encrypted by a VPN will prevent anyone from keeping track of your internet traffic while you’re surfing the web.
That’s not all though! While using a VPN you can even alter your device’s location. While it might sound like some technical wizardry, there is a good explanation as to how you can spoof your location by using a VPN — but let’s first take a look at how websites get hold of your device’s location.
Websites will use your IP address to pinpoint where your device is located. An IP address is a unique string of numbers used to identify your device on the internet. One of the main roles that an IP address has is to pinpoint your device’s location and give that information over to websites when you visit them. This allows websites to send you targeted ads based on your location — remember that local bank’s advert you saw while browsing the internet?
VPNs allow you to change your device’s location as they let you connect to secure global servers in other countries and cities around the world. When you connect to one of these servers, your real IP address will be masked and your device will adopt the IP address of the server that you connected to. This will trick websites into believing that you are accessing them from somewhere else. Right now it might not seem too important, but in the next section, we’re exploring why this feature is so loved amongst internet users!
Why You Need a VPN
As a cybersecurity tool first and foremost, a VPN will keep your device safe and secure while you’re using the internet. A VPN is especially important to have on your device if you’re using public WiFi hotspots such as the ones found at restaurants, airports, and hotels. These public WiFi hotspots might be cheap and convenient, but they often use unsecured connections.
Unsecured connections can be used by cybercriminals to “listen in” on your devices as they send and receive data through the internet. This form of eavesdropping allows them to steal crucial sensitive data such as your personal information, login credentials, and sometimes even your banking details. If you’re using a VPN though, your connection will be encrypted and hackers won’t be able to listen in on your device and steal your data.
The ability to change your virtual location is the feature that has made VPNs so incredibly popular in recent years. Being able to trick websites into believing that you are accessing them from elsewhere allows you to bypass those annoying geo-blocking restrictions.
Geo-blocking has become more and more popular in recent years. Those who enjoy streaming live sports will be especially familiar with the concept. You may have tried to access a live stream or some sports highlights but have only been met with an error message stating: “this content is not available in your region”.
As frustrating as it might be, geo-blocking serves an important purpose. Streaming platforms and media companies, such as Sky Sports, for example, need to buy the rights to broadcast a specific sport. These broadcasting rights come with a strict set of rules — some of which limit the companies to broadcasting in specific regions.
This is why you can’t access Sky Sports content from outside of the UK, even if you’re a paying subscriber! But, if you use a VPN, you simply need to connect to a global server in the UK and the website will give you access to the content since your device is using an IP address from within UK borders.
The same goes for movies and series on Netflix, as well as some content on YouTube. VPNs are also incredibly helpful at bypassing internet censorship which has become incredibly popular in recent years. Some countries are even so strict that they block popular social media platforms, foreign news websites, and some Google services.
The Best VPNs to Choose From
Be careful of installing just any VPN on your device though, they’re not all the same! You need to choose your VPN carefully before you install it on your device.
The golden rule to choosing a VPN is that you should always go premium. While free VPNs might seem incredibly convenient, they come with a ton of drawbacks. When using a free VPN, you can expect slower connection speeds, more ads, less security, fewer global servers to choose from, and even daily data limits.
The “best” VPN is a matter of opinion and matching the VPNs strengths to your needs. For example, if you want to use your VPN to stream live sports, you’re going to need one with excellent streaming capabilities such as a fast and stable connection — in that case, try Surfshark!