As people who spend our entire lives online, it’s easy to get caught up in the belief that we’re invulnerable to threats. In fact, we’re more likely to be the ones making the threats than falling victim. Of course, no one is completely immune, but if, anyone comes close, it’s us!
Nowadays, when literally everyone is touting the importance of VPNs, it’s easy to scroll past the panic. VPNs are not only costly, they also slow our connections down. If your connection is underwhelming to begin with, they could give you serious trouble.
But VPNs are becoming more and more important, even for tech-savvy users. For those who are already convinced, do some research before you dive in (see, for example, this NordVPN review).
For everyone else, here is why you need a VPN, even if you are wise to the threats.
A basic refresher
If you’re not entirely sure what a VPN is (nothing to be ashamed of!), let me give you a quick refresher. A virtual private network (VPN) creates an encrypted tunnel for your data, keeping what you do online private, even from your ISP. It also hides your IP address, keeping your location secret.
They won’t protect you from viruses or malware, and persistent hackers can potentially get through their protection. But for those of us who aren’t the subject of major attacks from hackers, they’re more than good enough.
Our identities are online
It does not matter how tech savvy you are. In today’s world, it is necessary to make our most private information available online. Whether we’re doing financial transactions, or using our ID numbers to prove who we are to local insurance providers, everything is there for the taking.
It’s one thing to be wary of who you give your information to. Even the most reliable websites are hacked, revealing compromising data on millions of users. Most of us are smart enough not to hand out info at will.
But we need to be aware of our own vulnerabilities as well. Your information might not be all that useful in and of itself, but with your location added to the mix, you could fall victim to identity theft.
There are added bonuses
VPNs provide basic protection from hackers, but they also have a few bonus features. They allow you to get past regional blocks on streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. In countries which censor the content you’re allowed to see, they give you the opportunity to broaden your mind without the threat of government crackdowns.
Furthermore, it’s simply foolish to download torrents or the like without the protection of a VPN. Opening yourself up to legal problems in order to save $10 is not a rational decision. And if you’re going to be downloading torrents anyway, it’s a good idea to use your VPN regardless of whether you’re doing anything legally problematic.
Finally, I know it might sound paranoid, but government surveillance is real. They’re not even trying to hide it anymore. While they’re unlikely to find anything too compromising about you, privacy should be a right and not a luxury. A VPN gives you what authorities are taking away.