A smartphone, laptop and internet access are now essential tools for modern life. A top model smartphone can cost upwards of £1000, if not more. Monthly buying plans are also incredibly expensive as devices become more and more advanced. Whilst we are happy to invest heavily in tech and insurance for our phones in the event of physical damage, we often forget about protecting ourselves whilst online. Over the past five years, VPNs have become increasingly popular, with normal internet users now considering using VPNs, not just those who are tech-savvy. Purchasing a VPN is a no-brainer if you care about online privacy and security. 

What does a VPN do?

A VPN, or a virtual private network, gives you total online privacy and anonymity by creating a private, hidden network when operating on any type of internet connection. When surfing the web, you are often exposing your private information without knowing. Data transmitted during public and even private browsing sessions can be subject to digital eavesdropping, in which hackers can see and interfere with your data and personal information. A VPN combats this by masking your IP address, meaning what you do online is untraceable. This encryption means no one can see what you are doing, even when you are sending emails, texts or messages on social media. Information is sent and received through a secure tunnel between VPN servers so that no one can snoop on your information along the way. A VPN establishes secure connections whilst you’re online, meaning your data is secure even when out and about. As you are particularly vulnerable when using public networks like wifi in a coffee shop or hotel, a VPN can protect you regardless of where you are. 

What else can a VPN be used for?

The primary use of a VPN is increased security. With a VPN, your entire search history is hidden from cyber criminals and pesky cookies, which track and collect your data as you navigate the internet. Have you ever been innocently searching for something and then an hour later ended up seeing that item advertised to you repeatedly? This is due to cookies from websites tracking your internet history, finding products you are interested in and marketing them back to you. A VPN stops even this kind of tracking and data collection. A VPN not only hides your address and location but also hides your location when streaming. This can be extremely useful for increased online freedom, meaning you can watch tv shows or films which are only available in certain countries. This allows you to get the best out of your streaming subscriptions and overcome country-by-country paywalls.

How much does a VPN cost?

Many providers are now offering VPN services, with some ‘lite’ versions being free. Most VPNs can also be paid monthly, avoiding large upfront costs and cancelling if you don’t think it’s worth it. However, given what you can do with a VPN, they are well worth the price.