Is a VPN a Very Pressing Necessity?

 By Diane Tait

Image courtesy Pixabay

If you’ve like to surf the web, then you realize cybersecurity is a very pressing necessity.  That’s because you can’t read a newsfeed without bumping into a post about hackers.  Everyone from Fortune 500 companies to consumers and kids are being hacked these days.  That’s because hacking is big business.  The FBI recently reported that hackers cost the US economy more than $4.2 billion in 2020.  Hackers use every kind of trick in the book to put a hook in their victims.  Everything from phishing and clickbait to ratting and ransomware is being used to break into web-enabled devices of all kinds.  Sad to say, if you share and receive data, make payments and shop online, you risk having your personal and financial data compromised.  While you may have one or more layers of cybersecurity software on your devices, if you inadvertently accept a poisoned email or click on a corrupted link, you could quickly find your life has become a virtual nightmare as malware burrows deep into your laptop, tablet or smartphone to deposit its nefarious code.  Once infected, the dominos will start to fall as your privacy is violated, your contacts are gleaned, and your financial data is used or sold to the highest bidders.  What’s even worse is that all too many people make it easy for hackers to infiltrate their devices.  If you want to learn how augment the protection of every device you own, you need to consider adding what’s known as a Virtual Private Network, otherwise known as a VPN.

Who’s watching you?  While most folks believe hackers lock themselves in their rooms to pound out computer code in the wee hours of the morning, this couldn’t be further from the truth nowadays.  Modern hackers employ a sophisticated array of robotic software that works 24/7 to find and land unsuspecting computer users.  In fact, not only do hackers use botnets to do their dirty deeds, so too do big businesses that mine your data whenever you point and click.  If you’re tired of having your personal details being gathered by every Tom, Dick and Hacker, there’s a simple way to make it impossible for bots to do their thing.  A secure VPN does two things to cover your tracks.  First it masks the IP address of your device by exchanging it with those located at different addresses and locations around the globe.  This makes it impossible for hackers or data miners to zero in on your device.  Then the VPN goes one step farther by encrypting your data.  This makes it impossible for marketers or hackers to read your data.  From the first time you activate a VPN, neither cookies and malware, nor marketers or hackers can track the digital breadcrumbs you usually leave behind as you surf the web.  

Image courtesy Pixabay

Do you use public Wi-Fi hotspots?  If you like to use Wi-Fi hotspots in restaurants or hotels, these public networks are often riddled with malware.  Hackers can either plant malware onto the Wi-Fi server or  they can broadcast a bogus Wi-Fi signal that you mistakenly take to be a legitimate hotspot.  Connect to either of these networks and you’ll share every keystroke you make with a hacker.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is if your device is equipped with a VPN, you won’t have to worry about being hacked when you use public Wi-Fi networks since your IP address will automatically be masked and your data will be instantly encrypted.  This way you can enjoy your stay without running the risk of hackers accessing your device, snatching your data, or implanting malware.

How often do you make payments or access online banking? – If you shop and make purchases online, your buying habits and credit card numbers are vulnerable to being intercepted by a third party, even if you make your online transactions while using incognito mode.  The same is true every time you access your banking info online.  By employing a VPN, you won’t have to worry about interlopers intercepting your account or credit card information.  You also won’t have to worry about seeing tons of annoying online ads since cookies that are designed to track your buying and browsing habits can’t read encrypted data. 

How social are you on your social networks? Whether you realize it or not, more than your friends keep track of your social posts.  So too do online marketers and cybercriminals. That’s right, when you post the details of your everyday life or the upcoming trip you’ve planned, it’s all too easy for online marketers and hackers to gain access to this data to use for their own nefarious purposes.  Once you connect with a VPN, your social media account details will be safeguarded against interlopers.  This is especially important if you value the security of your username and passwords on social and subscriber networks.  It also keeps every keystroke you type from being monitored on home, public and workplace networks.

Do you have a smart TV? Like it or not, if you own a smart TV, it comes from the factory equipped with adware that monitors and reports on your viewing habits.  This information is then transmitted and analyzed by marketing companies that pass this information along to retailers and etailers to help them sell more goods and services to you.  One way to pull the plug on big data is to reroute your server connection through a VPN to secure your viewing habits.  This will also prevent hackers from gaining access to other devices connected to your home network once it uses a VPN. 

How much trouble is it to use a VPN?   Using a VPN should be completely transparent once you’re connected.  That being said, you’d be advised to avoid using free VPN services, since the speed and capabilities of these services is limited at best.  Chances are your internet service provider or malware software provider can help you access to a VPN.  By shopping around, you’ll be able to find a VPN that is affordable and capable of providing seamless service to you and your family.  Most VPNs allow you to connect multiple devices for one price.  The larger providers also offer 24/7 customer service in case you require assistance in installing or using their service.  When you consider the value of your personal and financial data, paying a few dollars a month to add a VPN to your cybersecurity is a very pressing necessity.

Diane Tait owns and operates A&B Insurance.  To find out more about how you can save money on insurance, go to her site or fill out the form at right.

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