If you have ever worked in a corporate job, you might already be acquainted with a VPN. Typically, a company’s VPN allows you to securely connect to the resources you use for your job as if you were sitting at the office.
These days, VPNs are very mainstream, but not for the same purposes they were created.
VPNs in a Nutshell
To put it in simple terms, a VPN links your PC, tablet or smartphone to another computer (server) somewhere else in cyberspace thus enabling you to browse the web using that server’s internet connection.
If that server is headquartered in another country, it will seem like you’re from the same country, and then you might be able to gain access to things that are otherwise restricted.
Why Are VPNs so Trendy?
There’s plenty of snoopers that can monitor what you’re doing online, from the internet service provider (ISP) to the Wi-Fi coffee shop you’re mooching off— and it’s impossible to make sure that you can trust any of them.
For the most part, people use VPNs to sidestep geographic restrictions on web pages and streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, to guard against untrustworthy Wi-Fi hotspots, maintain online privacy by hiding their true location and to prevent identification while torrenting.
Let’s say you want to access a Swedish website or internet service, but you’re on holiday in Cuba and for some reason, you’re not granted access. When using a VPN, Swedish IP address is allocated to you through a proxy. Voilà! (or more like hör och häpna). You’re in!
The fact of the matter is that it’s 2019 and there are always fresh privacy scandals. Gaining access to your raw, unfiltered traffic is the easiest way for marketers and criminals to find out everything about you. Not just your location, your browsing habits, banking details, credentials and credit card information as well.
For citizens of countries that restrict internet access such as China, using a VPN is a necessity. Over the past few years, China has blocked access to Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and thousands of other foreign websites including The New York Times, and the country’s Communist Party has clearly shown that, under President Xi Jinping, it intends to go down a path of stricter political control.
This form of censorship is now spreading to countries such as Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Vietnam.
But Using a VPN Can Also Save You Money!
Some online stores give different prices according to your IP address since they do market research and know, on average, how much a consumer from that region is willing to pay for any given product.
Airline companies are known to do the same, you can get a ticket for the same departure and arrival locations, but if you use a VPN and switch between proxy servers you can get a much better offer.
You need to be careful when choosing one, though. As with everything online, there are plenty of scammers cleverly disguised as legitimate providers. Some virtual not so private network providers will log everything you do and sell the information for marketing purposes.