A Beginner's Guide to VPNs and Why They Matter
Rob Turner

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows you to enjoy privacy and greater security when you browse the internet. VPNs are a set of servers that your computer connects to through your internet service provider (ISP) while you browse the internet. After you've connected to a VPN with the help of a process called tunneling, the VPN servers allow you to surf the web securely. This article is a beginner's guide to VPNs and why they matter.

1) A VPN helps protect the data of remote workers from hackers and cyber breaches

With the Covid-19 pandemic upending life as we know it, many employers and their employees had to shift entirely to a remote-work lifestyle without much warning, and remote working is expected to stay prevalent for the foreseeable future. Whereas working in an office offers employees substantial protection due to enterprise-level security, remote work does not always offer similar levels of protection. Places that offer free WiFi, like hotels, coffee shops, and airports, tend to be vulnerable to cybercriminals. In such a scenario, using a VPN for PC helps protect sensitive information from being hacked by cybercriminals.

2) Why should you use a VPN?

One of the prime reasons to use a VPN is the security it provides when you access the internet. Since a VPN encrypts all your data, hackers cannot steal your information since the data itself is encrypted. Furthermore, a VPN offers high levels of privacy.

Since your data is encrypted, what you watch through streaming, what comments you leave in online forums, or what you search for on Google is not visible to third parties who may try to snoop on you. Finally, a VPN hides your actual IP address, replacing it with the IP address of one of its servers. As a result, anyone trying to track you down won't be able to locate your actual physical location. All these reasons make VPN usage essential since your internet habits are not as safe as you think.

3) A VPN helps you avoid bandwidth throttling

Bandwidth throttling is the intentional slowing of available bandwidth or purposeful lowering of your internet connection's speed. Your ISP might indulge in bandwidth throttling at certain times of the day. Doing so helps them decrease network congestion and lower the amount of data they need to process. In fact, an ISP may throttle bandwidth to induce you to pay more for an expensive data plan that doesn't limit internet bandwidth. Using a VPN helps you avoid this by encrypting your device's internet traffic and preventing others using the same network from tracking your internet usage.

4) A VPN can help you access geo-blocked internet services.

Some VPNs may allow you to access region-blocked content from Netflix and other streaming providers. It does so by changing your IP address, leading the content provider to think that you're browsing the internet from another region or location to access its streaming service. For example, you may be in the UK and would like to access Netflix US's content library. In normal circumstances, that won't be possible. However, using a VPN that lets you select a US server will permit you to access Netflix US and enjoy streaming content as per their US library.

5) Avoid censorship if you're traveling internationally

Some countries forbid or restrict access to certain social media platforms, such as Facebook. They may also censor certain content that you're used to accessing without issues in your home country. A VPN may help in granting you access to the blocked websites by making your traffic seem like it's originating from a different location. As a result, you'll be able to access the blocked content without any problems.