4
Dec

Why Is it Essential to Have a VPN in Your Privacy Tool Kit

Gone are the days when simple antivirus software was enough to safeguard your devices from cyber threats. Today, there are more reported cases of data breaches, identity theft, hacking incidents, and malware infiltration than ever before.

According to an Internet Security Report, 2018 by Symantec, Cryptojacking attacks (when someone takes unauthorized control of your device to mine cryptocurrencies) increased by 8,500 percent, while mobile malware increased by 54 percent. These stats are staggering and make you wonder about the state of your privacy and security. [1]

Therefore, as technology advances with time, the number of online threats will also increase. One of the tools that can ensure the safety of your data and your identity in the online world is a VPN.

In this article, I will highlight some of the reasons that make a VPN is a necessary tool in your arsenal against these threats.

Prevent ISPs from Collecting and Selling Personal Data

Imagine that you woke up one morning not feeling well and decided to do a quick internet search about the symptoms. As you look for a cure, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is silently collecting all this information to build a personal profile of yours. Scary isn’t it!

ISPs have unrestrained power over the data they can collect. Any activity that you perform online will go into the records of your ISP. And, if you happen to live in the United States, then things get bleaker.

After the Senate voted to eliminate broadband privacy rules last year, ISPs like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon can store and sell consumer data to third parties without user consent. [2]

This is where a VPN service comes into play. Since a VPN encrypts your web traffic and creates a secure tunnel, it prevents ISPs from recording your browsing activities. All they can see are random symbols and characters making no sense.

Access Public Wi-Fi Hotspots Safely

Who doesn’t like free internet connectivity? However, everything comes at a price including free public Wi-Fi. There are numerous security threats lurking in the background when you connect to one of these free hotspots.

Due to the popularity of public Wi-Fi hotspots, commonly available at any cafe, restaurant, mall, airport, or hotel, hackers and cybercriminals use them to set up traps for innocent netizen.

These malicious goons use it to hack the user’s device and access their personal information. They can snoop on your online activities, record your financial details, retrieve personal photos, eavesdrop on your conversation, and distribute malware.

Therefore, public Wi-Fi networks are laden with security threats. One way to secure your privacy and data security is to switch on a VPN before surfing the internet on any hotspot. A VPN creates secure tunnels between your device and the internet, sending your request through this tunnel and not allowing hackers to gain access to your sensitive information.

Remain Anonymous from Blanket Cyber Surveillance

Another threat that not many people knew of a few years ago is the cyber surveillance conducted by governmental agencies. It was thanks to the efforts of Edward Snowden who blew the whistle on NSA in 2013 that we know how surveilled we all are online.

The former NSA analyst lifted the lid on the blanket surveillance conducted by different intelligence agencies. He revealed how the NSA, CIA, GCHQ, and other governmental bodies collaborated to conduct mass surveillance on netizens. The government would keep tabs on every data packet entering and leaving the country, including recording browsing and download history of internet users all over the US.

Even today, China conducts web surveillance across the country. Hence, the government knows what you searched on the web and which movie you watched over the weekend. To help preserve your privacy, a VPN blocks outsiders from snooping on your online activities while keeping you anonymous.

Bypass Internet Censorship and Reclaim Internet Freedom

While cyber surveillance is a great threat to the user’s privacy, various nations impose oppressive policies to censor the internet. Some of these nations include China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Cuba, and Syria.

These countries restrict the use of the internet and block popular web services from functioning. For instance, you cannot access Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, WhatsApp, and various other services in China.

Likewise, they also deploy content filters and block any information that they may deem is against their country or government. If you happen to live in any of these nations or are planning to visit them anytime soon, then don’t forget to take a VPN for China. Its ability to cloak your IP address will allow you to bypass internet censorship and access blocked web services in the region.

Secure Your Sensitive Data against Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware is a kind of malware that has severe consequences. It takes users’ data and encrypts it, making it unreadable or inaccessible. In turn, the malware demands ransom (payment in bitcoins) to unlock the encrypted data.

WannaCry is the most widespread ransomware to hit the online world so far. [3] The attack took place in May 2017 and affected more than 200,000 individuals, 10,000 organizations, and spread across 150 different nations. The damage was devastating and cost millions of dollars for companies to recover the lost data.

Since the attack originated online, a VPN is one of the tools that could defend against it and stop it at its source. When combined with an antivirus software, it forms a formidable defense against malware. That’s why you might witness many antivirus companies offering their own VPN services as well.

Due to its ability to encrypt your web traffic and create a private tunnel, a VPN makes it difficult for the malware creator to target your device and keeps your data out of their reach. By doing so, it helps defend against malware like ransomware.

But when it’s all said and done, most malware is spread due to the user’s own fault. If you download malicious software from an unreliable source or click on a malicious link in an unknown email, then nothing can prevent the ransomware from entering your device. Therefore, caution is advised!

What Does The Future Hold for VPNs?

Online privacy is something hard to come by these days. With ongoing cyber surveillance and governmental bills requiring companies to store users browsing activities, it is imperative to secure your privacy.

Therefore, given the security and privacy threats circulating the online world, the use of VPN will increase considerably over the years. You can gauge the potential of the VPN industry by looking at it’s worth. The industry is expected to grow to $36 billion by 2022. [4]

This shows that many users are turning towards VPN services, be it for privacy or some other reason. So what does the future of VPNs hold? It might be hard to answer that exactly but the signs point in a positive direction.

Sources:

  1. https://interactive.symantec.com/ISTR?CID=70138000001MD17AAG
  2. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/03/senate-votes-to-let-isps-sell-your-web-browsing-history-to-advertisers/
  3. https://www.cnet.com/news/wannacry-wannacrypt-uiwix-ransomware-everything-you-need-to-know/
  4. https://www.statista.com/statistics/542817/worldwide-virtual-private-network-market/

About the Author:

Aazim Akhtar is a Senior Editor at https://www.vpnranks.com. He loves to write about internet freedom, latest happening in the online world, and guide users to preserve their privacy. When he is not tapping away at the keyboard, he is busy binging movies or playing soccer.

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