Online safety is important. You know that. You also know that it’s a concept that is never going to get simpler or easier. Attacks have become sophisticated over the years, and the simple truth is that the internet has made malicious activity more convenient in the same way it has made shopping and learning more convenient.
So, how do we deal with it? How do we stay ahead of the ever-evolving attacks designed to steal our information and safety? You trust in the experts. There are plenty of amazing people working to provide a secure internet experience to anyone and everyone. They offer all kinds of resources to protect you. You simply need to take advantage of those tools. At the heart of all of them is a VPN (https://surfshark.com/servers/usa). It is the core of your internet protection, and you need to understand exactly how and why it can make such a monumental difference in how you use the internet.
What Is A VPN?
The letters stand for “virtual private network.” As the name implies, a VPN creates a virtual connection between your device and a server. That connection is an encrypted connection tunnel, and it works to add a significant layer of security for all of your internet traffic. This is extremely important for protecting your data, identity and general use of the internet.
If you want the most succinct answer possible, a VPN is a service that encrypts and protects your internet activity. Knowing that it provides security is useful, but knowing how it works can help you choose a good VPN and use it to its fullest potential.
How Does A VPN Work?
The term “encrypted connection tunnel” sure sounds promising, but what does it really mean? It means that you add a middle man to your internet. Your device connects directly to the VPN server. That connection has its own encryption running. Normally, if you connect to a site, the connection itself isn’t necessarily encrypted. Secure sites can encrypt their end of a connection, but that doesn’t extend to your end. The VPN adds security to your end.
But, there’s more. Because all of your traffic is going through a server, the VPN adds another layer of defense. Nothing you contact can see your real IP address or location. This masks your real identity from the internet. It’s great for privacy and avoiding tracking. It can also matter for security. If you accidentally go to a malicious site, it can’t get important information about who and where you are.
Do You Really Need It?
Ok. VPNs add security. That’s great, but are they really important? The short answer is yes. Of course internet security is important. But, VPNs are more than just a means to encrypt your computer stuff. They’re a full service, and those services add a lot of value to your internet experience. Just from a privacy and security standpoint, when you think about exactly what the VPN is really providing, you’ll see that it is an absolute necessity.
The Value Of Anonymity On The Internet
Every last bit of internet activity is tracked. Some people have accepted their fate and no longer care. Other people still value privacy and anonymity. The thing is, even software that is designed to protect your information has limits as to what it can do. All of your connections have to go through some kind of service, and that service provider can track you. Internet providers all sell user data.
With the VPN, there is an intermediary between you and the internet provider. Everything goes through that VPN server first, so you can truly stop all data tracking. This allows you to have an unfiltered internet experience. For anyone who doesn’t like being tracked all of the time, a VPN is indispensable.
Even if you don’t mind being tracked, there’s a huge market for your data, and not everyone who gets a hold of it has good intentions. Internet data can be used by bad people to target attacks against you, and you would be shocked to see how advanced and creative those attacks can be. When people on the internet don’t know anything about you, they can’t target you. That’s extremely important.
Risk Of Internet Malice
Privacy aside, a VPN is important for internet safety. There are bad actors on the internet. People get malware, ransomware and any number of other attacks on a daily basis. A lot of PC users have antivirus software. A VPN actually offers more security than those software suites — although they still have plenty of uses.
Endpoint encryption is more important than most people realize. If you’re on a public Wi-Fi service, anyone else on that service could try to infiltrate your device or steal your information. Man-in-the-middle and hotspot attacks are frustratingly common. Your VPN stops both of these types of attacks dead.
If you have ever been frustrated by malicious internet activity, a VPN is for you. It can reduce the risk of having your identity or financial information stolen. It better protects your passwords to protect various accounts. It makes direct attacks on your internet activity virtually impossible. A VPN adds more security to your internet activity than any other single change you can make.
How To Choose A VPN
Now that you’re coming around to the idea of having a VPN, you have to wade through the oceans of options. There are a lot of providers out there. How do you know which one(s) is the best? Well, there are a few key points that can help you weed the field. Every VPN is going to offer encryption. You can also check the service agreement to make sure they aren’t turning around and selling your data. Most leading VPN providers are good about this. That means that the real differences will be found in three key comparisons.
One of the great values of a VPN is that you can browse the internet as it exists in other countries. Some love this for unlocking regional content. As an example, what you can watch on Netflix depends on your location. If you want to see what British or Japanese Netflix looks like, you can connect to a server in either location.
This means that server location is important. You want a VPN with as many servers as possible. At a bare minimum, you want to be able to connect to the locations that interest you.
At the same time, you also want some close servers. Those are ideal for the fastest possible experience when your VPN location doesn’t otherwise matter.
A VPN adds an entire step to your internet traffic process. Done poorly, this step can really slow down your experience. You want a fast VPN. Competitive, modern VPNs tend to be pretty fast, but if you scrape the bottom of the barrel for the least-expensive option, you might have to compromise on speed. It should be one of the first things you consider, and a free trial can let you experience the speed firsthand.
There’s little point to securing your internet only to make it unusably slow. That’s why tyring the service is especially important. Your location will impact the overall speed, and you want to know what you’re getting into. On the plus side, VPN services are extremely competitive, so a working option is available for pretty much anyone.
VPN services can do a lot more than just secure your internet. They offer a ton of features that can impact security and performance. A few important features are worth considering when you’re browsing providers:
- SmartDNS. This is what allows a user to bypass geo-blocking.
- Kill Switch. This feature cuts network access if the VPN fails or drops.
- Split Tunneling. This is what allows you to choose which apps or programs use the VPN vs connecting directly to the internet.
- Simultaneous Connections. You use more than one device to get online. How many can be on at the same time is determined by simultaneous connections.
There are plenty of other features that you might like. You can automate or schedule your VPN connections. You can get download management services if you’re someone who likes to keep all of your movies, music and otherwise stores locally on your device. If you see a feature that sounds promising, you’re free to prioritize it. This list of services is really only here to whet your appetite.
That should be enough to get you started. You need a VPN, and you should invest in a service that provides the kind of experience you want. Once you have your VPN, you can rest easy knowing that everything you do online is substantially more secure than it was before. If you’re truly determined to remain completely anonymous on the internet, you can add even more protection to your suite. You can look for cookie managers, script blockers and additional anti-trafficking resources. Your internet security is in your hands, and keeping things safe doesn’t have to be hard.