Everybody knows that Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) hide your internet activity and protect you from hackers.
It locks down your internet security while keeping your private stuff under wraps, but it’s also a money-saving tool that can unlock a world of better entertainment.
That sounds great in theory, but what are the real-life benefits of using a VPN?
Let’s briefly recap how a VPN works and then look at the real ways it helps you when you use a VPN for Firestick, gaming console, or on your phone and computers.
What is a VPN and how does it work?
A VPN protects your connection to the internet. It establishes a virtual encrypted tunnel for internet traffic to prevent snoopers from seeing what you’re doing.
It prevents man-in-the-middle cyber attacks and masks your IP address by making it look like your internet requests originate from a server that is miles away from your true location.
It guards your IP, which helps you to pretend you’re someone else.
4 Ways a VPN Keeps Your Private Stuff Private
Websites keep a log of every visit and trackers, then scoop it up and gather data from all over the world into massive database pools.
It typically contains IPs, physical and work locations, devices and browsers used, and a lot more.
It reveals the time you spend on websites and internet activities, your race, gender, political views, health concerns, food preferences, and other personal information.
Marketers use very sophisticated tools to understand who you are and what you’re interested in so they can hound you with ads and special offers.
- Hide your IP: Use a VPN to confuse them. The website will still log your visit, but you will be tagged as a random user with a different address IP than your own. They can follow the trail back to the VPN, but no further.
- An advanced VPN blocks trackers and cookies: If you use a VPN with threat protection capabilities, it will also act as a tracker blocker to stop third-party trackers from gathering your personal data.
- Block those ads: Ads are annoying and may be dangerous. Criminals use ads to get people to click on dangerous links. Your VPN can block ads to let you enjoy the internet without interruption.
- Added privacy protection if you use a VPN on the Onion network: Add a double whammy to the trail of confusion by using Tor or Onion Router with your VPN. Some VPNs offer it as a built-in feature to provide extra security It adds in some extra layers of encryption to make it almost impossible to track your online activity.
8 Ways in which a VPN is a security lockdown tool
VPNs route your internet connection through remote VPN servers. It masks your IP address and uses encryption and other security features to prevent third parties from identifying you.
- Secure your IOT network: IoT gadgets are notoriously easy to hack. Once an intruder gains a foothold, they can compromise your entire home or work network. Put everything behind a VPN security layer to prevent them from getting access via innocent gadgets like your gaming controller, smart fridge, Firestick, or temperature control system.
- Don’t become a bot slave, bud: Cybercriminals use infected IoT gadgets and computers for DDoS attacks. A VPN helps to prevent infections so that you won’t be swept up and used as an enslaved part of large cyberattacks.
- Protects you from criminals on P2P sites: Other users can see your IP address while you download or seed. It can open the door for cybercriminals. Stay private while using P2P by turning on your VPN to hide your real IP and encrypt your online traffic.
- Identify phishing attempts: Email phishing attacks are aimed at getting you to click on a link to download malicious software or send you to a site where they can trick you into providing personal information. An advanced VPN with Threat protection can identify dangerous websites and block malware downloads.
- Make Wi-Fi hotspots safer: Public Wi-Fi is dangerous because it is rarely encrypted. Some are even set up as honeypots by hackers who then steal your private data and logins. A VPN protects you by encrypting your internet connection.
- Remote learning and working: Your company won’t be happy if you log into their system from an unsecured connection because it will expose their entire network to hackers. If you use a VPN, you’ll be able to work from the location of your choice since security won’t be a problem.
- Don’t walk around with sensitive documents on your device: Use your VPN to set up secure file sharing. You can store important documents and large files on a home desktop computer, and then use a VPN with a remote access feature. It’s a private P2P mechanism that lets you share files between multiple connected devices.
- Keep your VOIP calls private: VOIP is secure but not immune to hackers. And if you travel to certain countries where the authorities monitor internet traffic, you may not even have access to VOIP. Use your VPN to disguise the fact that you are using VOIP and to protect the content of your VOIP calls.
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3 Ways a VPN helps you to save money online
Why should you pay more just because you live in a certain country or region? Online shopping platforms build in price discrimination based on your location to extract maximum prices from shoppers.
They charge different prices for items based on the location you browse from.
- Avoid being charged a premium: Follow these steps every time you shop online: Clear your browser Cache & cookies: This will make websites forget you have visited them before. Next, launch your VPN and choose a server. Try switching between different countries to get the best shopping deals.
- Save on Skype and VOIP Calls: VOIP rates are based on where you are and where you’re calling. Long-distance calls can be expensive, so if you choose a VPN server in the country you want to call, it will count as a local VOIP call.
- Get the best deals for air tickets, hotels, and car rentals: Use your VPN to make it appear like you’re shopping from a country where the prices are generally lower. Or pick a VPN server in your destination country for booking transport or hotels to make it look like you’re a local.
5 Ways to unlock better entertainment with your VPN
ISPs don’t like it when their customers use a lot of bandwidth, even if you’re paying a premium.
That’s why they check the network traffic of people who use a lot of internet bandwidth.
If they see that you are a heavy gamer, streamer, or use P2P sites, they may block filesharing websites or simply restrict your connection speeds.
- Avoid bandwidth throttling: If you use a VPN, they can’t see why you’re using a lot of bandwidth and won’t have a reason to restrict connection speed.
- Faster gaming: If your favorite gaming server is located in another country, you may encounter lagging. Switch to a VPN server location nearest to your gaming server to get maximum speeds.
- Unblock Social Media: Some countries (or school networks) block social media. You can use a VPN to get around these blocks to stay in touch with friends and family while you’re away from home. Some countries (or school networks) block social media. You can use a VPN to get around these blocks to stay in touch with friends and family while you’re away from home.
- Unblock Geo-Restricted Content on Entertainment Platforms: Media websites restrict their content in different countries to comply with copyright laws or censorship. If you happen to be traveling when they stream your favorite episode or match, you might get blocked from seeing it because of your location. Use a VPN to switch to a different location to make it look like you’re in the ‘right’ country.
- Free streaming TV from other countries: Most TV channels offer streaming TV on their websites, which locals can access without paying membership fees. If you have a taste for original programming from, e.g., the BBC, ABC, or Discovery Channel, you can watch it for free on your computer. All you’ll need is an IP address within the TV Channel’s sphere of operations. Switch to a VPN server in the TV channel’s country of origin.
A word of caution: Make sure you choose a reputable VPN
A VPN’s job is to protect your right to privacy and add a layer of security to your internet experience. It’s an important tool to control who gets your data.
But free VPN services are often just a honeypot used by unscrupulous operators to track and collect your data and sell it to the highest bidder. How else can they afford to provide that “free” service?