VPN which stands for Virtual Private Network. VPNs are extremely powerful cybersecurity tools which help in protecting your personal data online. VPNs serve to protect you against various cyber threats which aim to illegally acquire your personal information/data. In short, it protects your information by masking your device’s IP address. IP stands for “Internet Protocol”, it serves to identify a network or device on the internet.
Aside from protection, VPNs provide access to resources that are inaccessible on the public network.
One thing to remember about VPNs is that, they cannot make online connections completely anonymous, they, as stated above, mostly serve to increase security and privacy which aids in not exposing private information or data.
What are the Advantages of using a VPN?
Now that you are a bit familiar with the term’s VPNs and IP address, here are a few reasons to consider using a VPN:
- Offers security when making use of Public Wi-fi: As great and convenient public wi-fi may be, it is at the detriment to one’s internet security. Whether scrolling through social media or even just simply answering emails someone is able to track your online activity/digital footprint. With the aid of a VPN, you are able to mask your data or private information, such private information includes, your browsing history, banking information, account passwords etc.
- Gives you privacy from your Internet Service Provider: Making use of your home wi-fi makes it unlikely that you will get hacked or attacked by strangers online, however, that does not mean you are not vulnerable. Your ISP or its full meaning Internet Service Provider (a company which provides organizations and individuals access to internet and other services) still has access to your data. Using a VPN helps mask said data and keep your data and information safe.
- Gives access to content in any place: VPNs mask your location and make it seem like you are browsing from another place, for example, if you live in Nigeria with the aid of a VPN, it can make it seem like you are browsing form Japan or Germany. Due to a change in location, you can now have access contents such as movies, books, audios and more which may have been restricted or unavailable in your country.
- The ability to encrypt data/information: VPNs come with data encryption features, encryption is the process of encoding information, encryption puts your data into a coded format which allows you to protect and provide security to sensitive information.
- They make online banking safer: Many individuals make use of online banking services however, due to how important and sensitive one’s banking information is, people want to have extra security when it comes to online banking. A high-quality VPN as stated above, help in masking and protecting one’s banking information from prying eyes and hackers online.
While all these advantages sound very appealing, VPNs still come with a variety of disadvantages and to some the disadvantages may outweigh the advantages.
What are the Disadvantages of making use of a VPN?
There is a myriad of disadvantages when it comes to using a VPN, this is why some fear or rather do not feel the need to make use of a VPN, these disadvantages include:
- Does not make you completely anonymous: As I stated briefly, using a VPN does not make you completely anonymous when surfing the internet. If you have a Facebook or Google account and you are logged into said accounts, a VPN will not stop those companies from monitoring/tracking your online activities. In order to fully maximize or ensure some level of anonymity many recommend you make use of private browsers like Mozilla Firefox or that you make use of anonymous search engines like DuckDuckGo when making use of a VPN.
- Your privacy is in the hands of your VPN service: Protecting your online data and activity by making use of a VPN means handing over such data and information to your VPN service, all your online traffic is routed through the VPN providers servers. Your privacy and information are solely dependent on how trustworthy your VPN service is.
- VPNs are illegal in some countries: While most countries allow its citizens to make use of VPNs, in some, the use of VPNs are heavily restricted/banned. If one makes use of a VPN in a country where it is illegal, they may be caught and prosecuted.
- Quality VPN services cost money: What many may not be aware of is that, high-quality, safe and trustworthy VPNs cost money. They are not so expensive that they become unaffordable. A large number of free VPNs that are available are either of poor quality or even do more harm than good when it comes to securing one’s data, to many free VPNs are not worth the risk, especially if one’s online privacy is at stake. There is still good quality free to use VPNs available to download the only downside is that their performance is limited.
- VPNs may slow down your internet speed: A lot of complaints in regards to the use of VPNs is that it slows down your internet speed. The reason for this is quite straightforward, once your VPN is up and running it takes a longer route to access the internet. When it comes to high-quality VPNs, the internet speed is only decreased at a minimum. Although it rarely happens VPNs can sometimes improve the speed your internet connection.
- A few online services ban users who make use of VPNs: quite a few online services discourage and ban users who make use of VPNs. An example of said service would be Netflix, they try to block VPN users from accessing its services. These companies have the right to suspend, or even delete your account if you are found using a VPN.
These are a few advantages and disadvantages of making use of a VPN, using a VPN is without a doubt crucial if you want your online data and information to be secure. If you have read this article and believe that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages or vice versa =, the choice is yours to make.
Here is a list of good quality VPNs in no particular order that one can make use of:
- Surfshark One
- Atlas VPN
- CyberGhost VPN