Do I Need a VPN?

“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
BrandPriceSpeed testDetails
ExpressVPN$12.95/mo.OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP and PPTPView Plan
NordVPN$11.95/mo. OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSecView Plan
VyprVPN$12.95/mo.Open VPN, L2PT/IPSec, PPTP and ChameleonView Plan

Data effective 07/23/2020. Offers subject to change.

Privacy is another reason you should use a VPN. Similar to keeping your data safe, privacy allows you to have peace of mind that your information is protected from cybercriminals and cyberstalking. Many government organizations, businesses, and non-profit organizations use VPNs for privacy reasons when they deal with sensitive information.

We’ve mentioned this in other articles: internet privacy is not a guaranteed right. It’s legal for companies to sell your search history and monitor your internet habits in order to place advertisements, promote products, and predict websites you might be interested in.2

By using a VPN, you’re keeping your information private from websites, companies, or hackers that might want to steal or sell it. You might want to consider keeping your VPN on all the time. Some organizations keep records of your data without your permission. Roughly 75% of websites include a tracking code designed for storing your information.3 That’s a lot of websites storing your data. A VPN acts as a safeguard that will keep your information private and anonymous.

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.

Now that you know about whether you need a VPN and why, here are your next steps.

Find out how a VPN keeps your info secure.

WHAT IS A VPN AND WHY YOU NEED ONE

Use these 10 tips to keep yourself safe online.

HOW TO STAY 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.