What Is A VPN And When Do You Need One

13 September 2016, 2:49 pm EDT

The internet has many things to offer, but it can be a dangerous place where clicking on the wrong link or opening the wrong email can lead to trouble. As many people work to make internet usage safer, one effective method is already available: accessing the internet via a VPN.

A VPN, short for virtual private network, is simply the virtual version of a secure, physical network - a web of computers linked together to share files and other resources. However, what makes a VPN special is that it connects to the outside world over the internet and can serve to secure general internet traffic in addition to corporate assets. The majority of modern VPNs are encrypted, so anyone connecting to them can do so knowing their internet activity is private and secure.

There are three primary times when setting up and using a VPN is beneficial:

1. Accessing Specific Resources Remotely

Many companies utilize VPNs to enable employees to access files, applications, printers and other resources on the office network without compromising security. However, this benefit is also available to the average user, who can set up their own VPN to safely access their home network while they're out of town.

2. Protecting Online Privacy

A major buzzword in the internet world is privacy, and VPNs excel at addressing those needs.

Imagine you're not at home and are forced to rely on a public Wi-Fi hotspot in order to connect to the internet. Yes, connecting to the internet while on the go is easier than ever, but many of them (like those found at Starbucks and McDonald's) aren't secure and can be used by those with bad intentions to capture your passwords.

This is where VPN comes in. Since it encrypts your internet traffic, it can help to prevent those people from grabbing your passwords and other private info.

3. Circumventing Geoblocking

To understand this third point, we need to discuss the purpose of geoblocking. Certain groups/websites practice geoblocking, a strategy that prevents users from accessing its content based on their geographical location. For example, the BBC iPlayer isn't viewable to those outside the UK.

VPNs combat geoblocking, allowing people to connect to the appropriate VPN and circumvent regional restrictions, thus gaining access to content that would have otherwise remained unobtainable. Some countries, such as Iran and China, also censor social media and certain websites, and users in those countries can only access those sites using a VPN. Journalists and political dissidents use VPNs to get around state-sponsored censorship, and in the case of the BBC iPlayer, a British VPN is required if you can't find the show you want on Netflix or Hulu Plus.

In all honesty, there is hardly ever a reason not to use a VPN. Sure, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer once made VPNs look bad in 2013 when she checked the VPN logs to assess Yahoo! employee productivity, then banned working from home after discovering productivity dipped for home working employees. However, that risk (and a few others) are negligible when compared with the benefits they provide - so long as you use them intelligently.

The fact that so many companies offer their own VPN services is a testament to how useful - and critical - they are. One such company that offers them is Liquidum, with the Rocket VPN app available for Android and iOS.

Much like other VPN services, Rocket VPN allows you to circumvent geoblocking and also encrypts your data. However, it goes a step further by not sharing your connection with other users as opposed to other popular VPNs such as Hola VPN. As an added bonus, it even has a unique browser, called the Rocket Browser, which allows you to browse the internet away from prying eyes, though that privilege is unique only to Android.

If you've been looking for the means to get around geoblocking and increase the security and privacy of your internet browsing, then check out Rocket VPN. It is available to download for free (with options to pay later on for enhanced benefits) in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.

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