Do I Need a VPN?

Chyelle Dvorak
Apr 18, 2023
Icon Time To Read3 min read

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“Need” is a strong word, but there are several reasons you should use a VPN. A VPN can do wonders to protect your privacy, keep you safe online, and shield your personal data from hackers.

If you’re just learning about VPNs (virtual private networks) and you still don’t know if you need one, don’t panic. VPNs aren’t as complicated as they sound. Roughly a quarter of internet users are turning to VPNs to keep their data from falling into the wrong hands.1 Here are several reasons a VPN will help keep you safe online and increase your security.

Why should I use a VPN?

There are three main reasons you should use a VPN: security, privacy, and anonymity. A VPN works like a private internet connection that encrypts your data. Instead of connecting directly to the server near you, your information travels through a “tunnel” to another server in a different location, making it very difficult for hackers to steal your data. Once your data is encrypted, it can’t be traced.

An “encryption” is a process for encoding the data sent from one computer to another. In order for your information to be read, the computer on the other side needs the right key in order to understand the data.

Many VPNs use security protocols in order to encode the information sent to another server. OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, and PPTP are a few common ones. Check the security protocol your VPN uses to make sure it’s up to date and uses the latest technology and won’t slow down your internet too much. Here’s a quick look at the top three VPNs for high-end security:

Best VPNs for high-end security
Brand
Price
Security protocol
Details

ExpressVPN

$12.95/mo.

OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, PPTP, IKEv2, WireGuard, and Lightway

NordVPN

$11.95/mo.

OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, and WireGuard

VyprVPN

$15.00/mo.

Open VPN, L2PT/IPSec, PPTP, WireGuard and Chameleon

When should I use a VPN?

You should use a VPN whenever you’re online banking, online shopping, using public Wi-Fi, working remotely, or visiting websites that aren’t secure. If you’re working from any public place remotely, you should download a VPN. It only takes hackers 15 minutes to steal your information.4 Most VPNs allow up to six devices on one subscription, while others (like IPVanish and Surfshark) cover an unlimited number of devices. Check your VPN’s website to make sure your VPN can cover all your devices.

Should I use my VPN at home?

In short, yes. Since you might be spending a lot more time at home these days, it’s important to understand how a VPN can help you right from your living room. For the most part, your home internet is safe. It’s unlikely there’s a hacker sitting in the street connected to your router, although that can happen.

However, you might want to think about the information you’re giving your internet service provider (ISP). A ruling in Congress made it legal for ISPs to regulate your data (meaning they could potentially sell it).5 For this reason, you should still use your VPN at home. If you want to make your information more private and secure, use a VPN that’s right for you. Make sure to invest in one that’s credible and tested.

Do I need a VPN to work from home?

If your workplace doesn't already have security measures in place to protect your device's internet connection, it is a great idea to get one. Just as you wouldn't want to leave sensitive or confidential work information laying around the office, encrypting your connection will ensure your work cannot be easily intercepted and cannot be decrypted. With a VPN, your work will be safe whether you're working from home or using sketchy cafe Wi-Fi.

Do I need a VPN on my phone?

A VPN will secure your internet connection and encrypt your data whether it's on your computer or mobile device. And luckily, most VPNs nowadays offer a mobile version. Just keep in mind that a mobile VPN doesn't always guarantee a "no logs" policy and might sell your browsing data, so make sure to pay close attention to whichever VPN plan you choose.

Now that you know about whether you need a VPN and why, here are your next steps.
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Find out how a VPN keeps your info secure.

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Use these 10 tips to keep yourself safe online

Sources

  1. Namecheap, “Why Do I Need a VPN?” Accessed July 23, 2020.
  2. Kimberly Kind, The Washington Post, “How Congress Dismantled Federal Internet Privacy Rules,” May 30, 2017. Accessed July 23, 2020.
  3. Rahul Chadha, eMarketer, “Ad Trackers Are on More than 75% of Websites,” January 8, 2018. Accessed July 23, 2020.
  4. CactusVPN, “How to Protect Yourself on Public Wi-Fi.” Accessed July 23, 2020.
  5. Angela Moscaritolo & Tom Brant, PC Mag, “Trump Officially Hands Control of Your Data to ISPs,” April 4, 2017. Accessed July 23, 2020.
Chyelle Dvorak
Written by
Chyelle Dvorak
Chyelle works as a freelance writer for The Daily Beast and edited articles for Forbes, Inc.com, Fox News and other review sites. Chyelle tests, writes, and researches products and services related to internet consumption. She found her passion for public speaking and writing in her childhood when she won the Voice of Democracy speech and essay competition. Chyelle has a degree in International Relations from Crown College, Minnesota. Outside of work, Chyelle loves to spend time reading, kayaking, and running.

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