If you value your internet privacy, it is probably time to look for ways to protect it. Like using a virtual private network or VPN, for example.
The Congress voted on March 29 to repeal internet privacy rules, essentially giving the go signal for ISPs to sell your data without you knowing. As a response, people immediately scampered to inquire about VPNs in hopes of protecting their online privacy.
But what is a VPN and can it really protect you from malicious entities that are out to invade your privacy?
What Is A VPN?
Using a VPN is a way to protect your online privacy. A VPN provides a secure, safe, and private connection between your device (PC and mobile) and a private server (offered by a VPN company) via data encryption, firewalls, dedicated connections, and several security protocols. This private network ensures that only authorized users can access the network and the data in it.
VPN also disguises your online activity by replacing your ISP with one provided by the VPN, or what is called "spoofing." Another security measure is avoiding "geoblocking," which is essentially ignoring the geographical limitations of a certain country — for example, to obtain an otherwise unobtainable data if accessed from an original location.
In other words, a VPN is like your secret private playground hidden in some undisclosed location wrapped in several levels of protection that only you can access via secret channels and by using security measures like passwords or encrypted codes. Yes, it is that secure.
Is VPN Secure? Yes, But Kind Of Complicated
In theory, a VPN is safe, secure, and private, but of course, like most human institutions, a VPN can pose some complications.
One major point to ask before you get a VPN: Is that VPN trustworthy? Nothing is worse than having your very own VPN betray you and sell your private data. Back in 2015, a VPN company called Hola was found guilty of selling its users' bandwidth. Also, non-secure VPNs are vulnerable to hacking, which can expose your private data as well. So make sure you find a reputable VPN service provider if you are really set on getting one.
The next hurdle is often the VPN itself. Sites like Netflix tries to block VPNs to prevent people from accessing films banned from their home countries. Other sites block VPNs mainly for security reasons; many hackers or criminals use VPNs to steal data or cover their digital footprints. Lastly, geoblocking often bounces your IP around the world, which can be bandwidth-consuming, thus your internet connection can slow down.
Lastly, setting up a VPN can be complex and time-consuming. Granted that you plan to hook all your devices to a VPN, it may require you to use a different VPN for each device. And every connection you make to the internet requires you to connect to your VPN. If you are tech-savvy enough, or super serious about your privacy, then this may not be a big burden to you.
If you have tried a VPN and still found it insufficient to protect you completely, maybe you can take the commonsensical advice: Don't use put all your private data in the internet.