There is an excellent chance that, as you read this article, you are being tracked. If you are online and you’re not using a VPN, your ISP knows exactly which sites you have visited, and they are keeping that information. What’s more, if asked by law enforcement, your ISP is required to give up your browsing history. That’s not to say a VPN is a way to skirt the law. The security of your personal and business data may also be at stake. You don’t have to be doing anything illegal online to need a VPN—in fact, there are many reasons outlined below as to why you should probably be using one already.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) has many advantages, but first, it is good to have some idea of what a VPN is. A VPN acts as a middleman between your ISP and your browser. Essentially, the VPN directs your traffic—instead of your Internet browsing being routed through your ISP, it is being routed anonymously through your VPN’s server.
This anonymity means that your ISP can no longer track your movements. In addition, accessing the Internet through the VPN’s server means using their IP address, so websites won’t be able to log your traffic. All of this boils down to keeping your Internet use private—no one likes snoops. Here are some of the reasons why a VPN might be just what you need to keep your browsing history to yourself.
Most free public WiFi is vulnerable to hacker attacks. In fact, even if the coffee shop uses a WPA2 password, it isn’t enough to keep hackers from spying on your data. With a VPN in play, your browsing is off the local ISP, meaning your emails and data are off limits to ne’er-do-wells.
If you are traveling to another country and want to ensure that you can still get to the websites you need, a VPN is a great option. For example, some countries don’t allow users to access certain sites for political reasons. By using a VPN, your location can appear to be somewhere other than where you are, so you can continue to work with the resources that you need.
End of Net Neutrality
In the U.S., the current government voted to end Net Neutrality back in March, 2018. Part of what this means is that ISP’s will have the right to sell their customer’s browsing histories without notifying the customers. If there is no record of your browsing history, there is less likelihood that you are going to keep getting targeted ads based on that one item you bought three years ago. What you do online should be your concern, not the concern of a marketing team.
Telecommuting is increasingly the way a lot of us do business. If you’re working remotely, a VPN can help by keeping your access to the company servers secure. All the resources from the office are at your fingertips, and safe from hackers. Similarly, students can use a VPN to access school resources safely from wherever they are.
When choosing a VPN, it is better to pay for the service than use a free VPN provider. While your browsing won’t be logged by your ISP with a VPN is place, it will be logged by some VPN providers (generally the free ones). The free providers need to make money too, so some have been known to sell their customer’s data to recover costs. In that case, you’re not much better off than you were without a VPN. Do your research and choose wisely—if a VPN is right for you, it pays to do it right.
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