In today’s world, privacy is becoming a bigger issue than ever before. With the increasing popularity of online shopping and social media, people are feeling more vulnerable than ever before. Not only are they fearful of hackers trying to steal personal information, but they’re also anxious about what happens when they connect to a free or paid-for VPN.
What’s a VPN?
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a virtual private network that connects your device (phone, tablet etc.) to the internet. The best VPNs are highly secure and give users some amazing benefits. For example, if you connect to a VPN and browse the internet, all your traffic, including web requests, emails and other network activity, is encrypted. This means that all of your data is secure and can’t be intercepted by hackers or anyone else.
What makes a VPN different to simply using a free public wifi hotspot? Well, with a VPN, you’re not exposing your traffic to anyone else. When you connect to a VPN, the service handles all the traffic for you, so you don’t have to worry about intrusions from hackers or nosy neighbors.
How much does a VPN cost?
It depends on the plan that you choose, but most providers offer an ad-free plan with unlimited bandwidth for around $2.95 per day. If you want to avoid ads and have a faster connection, you can upgrade to one of their premium plans which range from $5.45 to $12.95 per day. You’ll always find cheaper plans if you go with a reputable VPN service, but avoiding ads is the best way to keep your traffic private.
Why should you be picky about which VPN to use?
Although there are many great free VPNs out there, it’s important to be wary of any website that recommends an app or login page without permission. These should be considered advertising websites which may collect your personal information for malicious purposes.
Additionally, beware of free VPNs that ask for your email address to verify your identity. This is a common practice among free VPNs and many times, they’ll use your email to send marketing emails which you didn’t agree to. For this reason, we don’t recommend using free VPNs.
Why should you use a VPN?
Encrypting your internet traffic is probably the best way to ensure your privacy on the internet. Whether you’re shopping for clothes, booking flights or searching for apartments, when you connect to a VPN all of your traffic is secured. You can also use a VPN to prevent your personal information from being tracked online. When you connect to a VPN, the provider will assign you a new IP address which doesn’t match the one your device is currently using, resulting in less data being tied to your current location. This way, your IP address can’t be traced back to you.
Remember, your VPN provider can still see everything you do, as they own the infrastructure which allows you to access the internet. So while you remain anonymous, you’re still at risk of being tracked by your VPN provider.
What About Threats from Hackers?
Although using a VPN is a great way to protect your privacy and security, it won’t prevent you from being hacked. If you’re worried about hackers trying to steal your personal information, all you need to do is maintain a high degree of cyber security. You should use a strong passphrase and keep your account details as secure as possible. Additionally, avoid logging into your account on public Wi-Fi hotspots as these are more likely to be attacked by hackers. Instead, use a secure VPN connection to keep your data private.
Remember, even with a VPN, hackers can still see everything you do online. They just need to have access to your device or account to do so. So while you remain anonymous, you’re still at risk of being hacked by someone who finds your IP address or guesses your login details.
How Does the Government Benefit From Intrusive Data Collection?
In addition to online shopping, social media has become an important part of our daily lives. Whether you follow celebrities, politics or fashion, you’ll likely come across content that’ll pique your interest. Much of the content appears to be sponsored by the industry, with many users never being made aware that their personal information is being collected.
If you’ve used social media websites in the past, you’ll know that they’ll often log your IP address when you click on a link, login or download an app. Without your knowledge or consent, your IP address is often collected and stored by these websites. This is called IP address collection.
When you connect to a VPN, all the websites you visit will see that your IP address has changed and will not be able to track you as you browse the internet. This is because your VPN provider will handle all the routing for you, so every website you visit will believe that you’re in a different location. In reality, you’re still at the same place, but because your computer’s IP address has changed, websites will have no idea where you are. This is called Virtual Networking or VPN Routing.
When you use a VPN, you’re essentially cloaking yourself from view on the internet. This means that even if you’re at your home, using a VPN will make you appear to be in a different place. So if you have ever logged into Gmail on your mobile and received an email saying that you’ve got mail, but you were actually in the privacy of your own home, you’ve been spied on. This is one example of how VPNs can help protect your privacy. If you use a VPN and your mobile device is set to hide your identity, even if a website knows your real IP address, they’ll not be able to track your movements around the web. This is because every website you visit will see that you’re connecting through a different IP address. This takes the tracking element out of it. A VPN can also prevent your personal information from being accessed by marketers or third parties. Even if you allow third parties to see your personal information in your privacy settings, a VPN can still conceal your identity and prevent your data from being abused by others.
What About Censorship?
If you believe that freedom of speech is under threat and are worried about the repercussions of voicing an opinion, you should be doubly concerned about using a free VPN. Many service providers will log the sites you visit and block any content that they deem to be inappropriate. From a simple block to completely removing content, there are many ways in which a VPN can prevent you from accessing content that you should have the right to see. For this reason, we don’t recommend using free VPNs if you strongly believe in freedom of speech. If you’re still unsure if a particular VPN is appropriate for your needs, it’s best to connect to a few different services and compare the differences. This way, you can find a VPN that does exactly what you’re looking for without having any misunderstandings along the way. Just keep in mind that no matter which VPN you choose, the government and large corporations will always have access to your details. So while you stay secure, you’re still at risk of being tracked and spied upon by these entities.
The majority of VPNs are highly secure and will not log, track or sell your personal details. However, it’s still important to be mindful about your connection. Ensure that you’re connecting to a secure website through a reputable provider and make sure that you’re not being tricked by anyone. If you use a free service, there’s always the chance that it could be compromised. For this reason, it’s always best to pay for an excellent VPN service rather than risk your security for free.
For those looking for a one-stop-shop for all their VPN needs, we recommend trying ExpressVPN. Not only do they provide a secure and stable service, but if you sign up via our affiliate link, we earn a small commission which helps support the site. So, if you are looking for a VPN and want to save money, we recommend trying ExpressVPN.