A few years ago, most people had no idea what a virtual private network (VPN) even was. However, as the ugly truth that internet service providers spy on their customers spread far and wide, these useful security tools exploded in popularity. The recent 300% rise in cybercrime raised VPN awareness as well.
By ensuring all the data flowing through your network is protected, VPNs are a game-changer for home network security. They’re also extremely useful for small businesses worried about ransomware attacks and other common scams.
Whether you’re a casual social media browser or a small business owner sitting on mountains of sensitive data, VPNs could revolutionize your browsing experience. So let’s take an in-depth look at their many uses and benefits.
What is a VPN?
The encrypted connection of a VPN protects sensitive data such as social security numbers, financial information, and personal files and photos. When you use a VPN, the chance of hackers and other unwanted visitors penetrating your network decreases greatly.
In simple terms, a VPN transforms your public network into a private one. When you log on, your computer and the VPN exchange keys and verify each other’s authenticity. From that point forward, all the information you view and transfer is encrypted, and not even your ISP can pry into your personal online business.
How can a VPN improve your digital experience?
By now, you might be wondering why your family should even use a VPN. After all, if you already have a firewall and follow good cybersecurity practices, why would you need to worry about hackers? And if you have nothing to hide, why would you care about your ISP spying on you? However, there are still plenty of reasons a free VPN could up your internet game.
Consider the following scenarios:
You’re always on the go
It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling across the country for a business trip, or down the street to enjoy a cup of coffee at your favorite shop. Public networks are notorious for their horrible security.
Some of their many risks and disadvantages include:
- Outdated encryption techniques. Poorly encrypted networks warp your computer into an open book. This makes you vulnerable to all sorts of unsavory spying and creeping around, courtesy of your local cybercriminals.
- Malware attacks. Due to their poor encryption, public WiFi networks are also a dream come true for tech-savvy criminals who can inject malicious software onto your device within minutes.
- Rogue WiFi networks. Cybercriminals conduct this sinister scheme by setting up their own “free” WiFi networks in high-traffic locations like coffee shops, offices, or restaurants. Then, they trick their victims into logging on by naming the network after the business they’re impersonating.
If you plan on using public WiFi on your laptop or cell phone, a free VPN can protect your data by re-routing your traffic through a safe, encrypted channel.
You value your privacy
Let’s face it, the thought of someone spying on you and your family’s internet activity is downright weird. Who wants to think about a stranger sitting there snooping through everything you’ve looked at online? And as we mentioned earlier, ISPs are now allowed to sell your data to third-parties. So if you’re the type of person who doesn’t want to feel eyes on the back of their neck in the comfort of their own home, a free VPN could be exactly what you need to browse in peace again.
You want to share files without feeling like a criminal
Torrenting programs like BitTorrent or uTorrent have gained a bad rep in recent years due to many people abusing them to share copyrighted content. However, sharing non-copyrighted files with friends and family is completely legal across the United States. But with all the recent crackdowns, you could end up under your ISP’s microscope by innocently sharing large files with friends. By using a VPN to ward off prying eyes, you’ll feel safe and secure again when using file sharing software.
Also, you may be following all the rules, but that doesn’t mean that your roommates or your kids are. If you share a WiFi network with someone else who torrents copyrighted files illegally, you don’t want to end up paying for their mistakes—and you could if your internet service is registered under your name. Luckily, having a VPN on your network will add an extra layer of protection.
You want to protect yourself—and your clients—from prying eyes
Small businesses around the world are plagued by pharming, automation scams, and other dangerous e-commerce fraud methods. Many companies pre-install VPNs on all company laptops, especially if employees are dealing with sensitive information. However, if you run your own small business—or if your employer’s cybersecurity knowledge is lagging—you should consider investing in a VPN for your work computers.
We already covered the dangers of public WiFi networks, and these risks should be taken even more seriously when dealing with your business’s financial data. If you have any employees, install VPNs on all their work computers and educate them on proper use. A data breach can be the end of a small business, so make sure everyone on your team stays in the loop about the importance of VPNs and information security.
A free VPN offers the peace of mind you deserve
Even if you weren’t aware of spying and other security risks in the past, it’s never too late to get a free VPN. Now that you know the dangers of letting cybercriminals spy on you unchecked, as well as your ISP selling your personal info to questionable third-parties, you’re probably eager to pull down the curtain and gain back your privacy once and for all.
But before you begin your search, remember not all free VPNs are created equal. Research all prospective VPNs with a discerning eye to ensure you’re making the right choice for you and your family. And don’t forget to keep checking the Quantum Fiber blog for more helpful tech tips in the meantime!