Because most people are now using laptops, smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices to access the Internet whenever and wherever they find themselves, there’s an entire shadow industry made up of hackers, cybercriminals and other online villains looking to rip people off.
Protecting your personal information – such as your log-ins and passwords, your bank account and credit card information, and even your browsing history – is critical to keeping the bad guys from stealing your identity or your money. So what can you do to keep them from hacking your devices?
Benefits of a Virtual Private Network
Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a technology that allows you to shield your online identity and work anonymously online. While firewalls will help keep some outside software from making their way into your computer, they are not comprehensive and are usually not kept up to date to protect against the latest viruses and other malware.
A VPN, on the other hand, provides security and privacy by encrypting everything that comes in and goes out of your device.
VPNs Began with Corporations
The first VPNs were set up by big corporations who wanted to allow their workers to gain access to the data and files they needed, but not let outside inside at the same time. These networks could be used to link together remote offices into one central mainframe (or a series of secured servers) that could only be accessed by authorized personnel using passwords and other security measures.
They also used encryption software to scramble the data so that it would be meaningless to anyone outside the network.
Another feature that most corporations didn’t make public was that these VPNs also allowed the administrator of the network and/or management to monitor what their employees were seeing and doing online.
Why You Need a Personal VPN
Today, there are personal versions of these corporate VPNs that can be used by anybody to protect their identity and secure their devices from hackers. While some of these programs are free, generally you tend to get what you pay for.
There are some high-quality programs that provide all the security and protection you need while also being very affordable.
One of the benefits of using a personal VPN is that it can hide your IP address, which is the string of code that identifies your computer or you as a user every time you log into the Internet. This information can be used by websites and others to track which sites you visit, what you do once you get there, and the data that passes between you and the places you visit. It’s even possible to identify your general location, sort of like a virtual Global Positioning System (GPS).
Most personal VPNs will give you stealth IP that you can use to hide your identity and work anonymously online.
Having the ability to shield or change your IP address means that you can go anywhere online and do anything you like there without risking the scrutiny of anybody else, such as your Internet provider, your employer, or a government organization.
Free Wi-Fi isn’t Secure
When you use a free Wi-Fi hot spot – such as the one at your local Starbucks or McDonalds – you may think your Internet use is being protected, but it’s not. You are actually broadcasting all of your data “in the clear”, which means there is practically no security whatsoever and anybody with even the smallest amount of hacking skills can easily see everything you are doing.
This includes capturing your personal information, such as your log-ins and passwords, your credit card information, and even your bank account numbers.
One common trick is for a hacker to mimic a free Wi-Fi hotspot, calling it something like “FREE Wi-Fi Connection”. When you search for Wi-Fi and click on it, you are actually using their connection and sending all of your data through their computer.
If you are using a personal VPN, however, even if you were to unknowingly use one of these “evil twin” Wi-Fi connections, the hacker wouldn’t be able to see anything you are doing because it would be encrypted. In that instance, they would most likely dump you from their system and move on to an easier target.
Other Benefits of Personal VPN
Personal VPNs can allow you to use your computer or other devices safely while connecting to the Internet via hardwired connections at hotels, airports, conference centers or other public places. These are actually no more secure than wireless connections because the data stream can be captured by any other user of that network (or anybody hacking into that network).
VPNs can also help you access sites that are blocked or censored by a third party, such as an employer or a foreign government.
Corporations were the first to begin using VPNs to protect their sensitive data and to monitor their employees’ online activities. Now everybody can use personal VPNs to encrypt their activity, hide or change their IP address, and shield their browsing from outside parties. So if you’re looking to invest in a Virtual Private Network to build your business almost effortlessly, do check out the latest UK VPN review right now.