VPNs Don’t Make You Anonymous, But Here’s Why You Should Use One AnywayJason Siddall
“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” This iconic quote, from Joseph Heller’s famous novel Catch 22, is probably more apt in today’s world of cybercrime, hacking and identity theft than it was when Heller first penned it in back in the early ‘50s. Because let’s face it, when it comes to protecting ourselves online, a little paranoia is a healthy thing! Take this frightening statistic, for example, 93% of data breaches could have been avoided through fundamental data security efforts. It’s not surprising then, that the demand for VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) is growing, and growing fast.
Over the past decade, the number of people globally using VPNs has rocketed. Between 2016 and 2017, numbers increased by 185%, and by an additional 165% from 2017 to 2018. Experts predict demand for VPNs will continue to increase exponentially in the near future. In 2016, the global VPN market was worth $15.46 billion. By 2022, it’s expected to have more than doubled, to a staggering $35.73 billion.
Why is this? Do VPNs really do what they say on the tin? Can they really protect us from Big Brother and anyone else who might care to spy on us online at any given time?
The answer, for the most part, is yes.
So, What Is A VPN?
We all love the Internet. From online banking and shopping to streaming live sport, downloading music and researching everything under the sun. A virtually unlimited amount of information and entertainment is just seconds away from our fingertips, anywhere, at any time.
But it comes at a price – and not just financially. We pay for access to the incredible bounty that is the Internet with our privacy. Built-in flaws make us vulnerable when we’re online, and everyone – from advertisers to government snoopers – takes full advantage of it.
Unless, of course, you have a VPN.
A VPN makes the Internet more private, more secure and definitely safer. It hides a lot of the information that can put your safety and security at risk, such as your browsing history, IP address and location and web activity.
Contrary, however, to what many VPN providers would have us believe, it doesn’t make you anonymous. Yes, it significantly increases your security and privacy while online, but it doesn’t make you “disappear” completely. Think of a VPN as functioning in the same way as your lounge curtains. When they’re closed, no one on the outside can see what you’re doing, but they still know where you live.
But although anonymity is not on offer with a VPN, privacy is. And that, in this era where so much of our lives are lived in the public eye, is a very big deal.
“Privacy is your right and ability to be yourself and express yourself without the fear that someone is looking over your shoulder and that you might be punished for being yourself, whatever that may be.”
How Does It Work?
Without a VPN, when you access a website on the Internet, you start by connecting to your ISP (Internet service provider). Your ISP then redirects you to the website you want. In the process, they can see, track and log everything you do online. Occasionally, your browsing history is made available to marketers, advertisers and even government agencies – without your knowledge or consent.
With a VPN, your Internet traffic is redirected through a specially configured remote server. This effectively hides your IP address and encrypts all the data you send or receive. So your ISP can no longer see which websites you visit, or what you search for. As a result, they can’t collect your internet metadata, log your browsing history or share it with anyone else.
Think of a VPN as a kind of encrypted “tunnel” that secures all the data travelling between you and wherever you want it to go. A VPN server creates this tunnel by first authenticating your smartphone, tablet or computer and then applying an encryption protocol to all the data going in and out of it.
The really cool thing about a VPN is that your data travels through the Internet using an IP address supplied by your VPN provider, not the one attached to your personal device. So every time you connect to a different remote server, the Internet thinks you’re a different person. And if you connect to a server in another country, it looks as though you’re browsing from that country, instead of on your couch at home!
At Huge Connect, we’re all about Internet security and keeping you safe online. This is why we recommend using a VPN. To find out more about what that looks like for you and your business, chat to us today.