Why You Should Use a VPN to Stay Safe Online

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, encrypts data traffic so you can securely connect to the internet.

When you connect to the internet with your mobile phone, laptop, or PC, you give away your IP address, browsing history, operating system, and other information.

Protect your privacy and personal information with a VPN.

Or even worst, if you’re using an unprotected network, a hacker may intercept your traffic and extract personal information like accounts or login details.

But the good news is that you can protect your anonymity and personal information with the right Virtual Private Network.

Table of Contents

Important notice: Do your research.

Our content is intended to be used and must be used for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide investment, financial, accounting, legal, tax, or other professional advice.

It is essential to research and verify any information you find on this website or any other website.

Digital Privacy, Anonymity and Security quiz

Privacy, safety, and anonymity.

This quiz will score your privacy, anonymity, and security level.

After completing the quiz, your score will be displayed, as well as our feedback on each one of the questions.

 

Do you use public networks (e.g., free wi-fi at airports, gyms, hotels, coffee shops, restaurants,...) with or without VPN?

True or False?: I can safely use public networks because in my device (e.g., laptop) I have a very secure and up-to-date antivirus and a firewall installed.

True or false?: When connecting to sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube,... they can easily find out on what city you live.

Browsing the internet using a private window or incognito mode protects your anonymity and data

I regularly dedicate time to increase and maintain up-to date my digital safety knowledge, and I strictly follow digital safety good practices

I have learnt about how to identify phishing scams and protect myself and my digital assets from scammers.

Which of the following applications can be used to maintain digital anonymity? (select all that apply)

Which of the following are examples of private search engines? (select all that apply)

Which of the following are examples of private browsers? (select all that apply)

By law, my personal data cannot collected or processed unless I consent.

If I do not accept cookies on a website, I will not be allowed to access the content.

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What is a VPN, and How Does a VPN Work?

A VPN is a service that establishes an anonymous and encrypted connection between your devices and the internet.

An anonymous and encrypted connection prevents someone can find out what sites you are visiting or the data you are exchanging with those sites (e.g., usernames, passwords)

How does a VPN work

When using a VPN service, you are assigned an anonymous IP address; your internet connection is routed through a server in the VPN network, so the data you send or receive is encrypted.

This way, Internet Service Providers (ISP), the government, hackers, scammers, and such… cannot track your activity or find your online identity.

Once you have started using a VPN service:

– The VPN client on your device (e.g., mobile phone, laptop,…) encrypts your data and sends it to a VPN server through a secure connection. Because the data is encrypted, nobody can make sense of the information you are sending.

– The encrypted data is received by the VPN server, decrypted, and sent to the destination. This way, nobody except for you and the VPN service knows where you have sent the data. 

– If there is a reply from the destination, it will be sent to the VPN server, encrypted, and sent to your device. Because the data is encrypted, nobody can make sense of the information you are receiving.

– The VPN client on your device will decrypt the data so your application can understand and display it.

Should You Use a VPN?

You must decide if anonymity and security are worth the cost of a good reliable VPN service and a slightly slower internet connection speed.

VPN Advantages

The three main advantages of using a VPN are:

– Anonymity: Through your IP address, your location can be traced. And while most of the websites and services are benign enough and will use your location only for statistics, some malicious people and companies will use the knowledge for their benefit. With a VPN, your location will remain anonymous… to an extent.

Do you want to know how easy it is to track your location if you are not using a VPN? 

Use the Surfshark IP address location service, and you will know how much information a malicious person can get from you and your system.

– Security: A VPN encrypts your data traffic so hackers, scammers, and other nefarious people and organizations cannot access your data. If you don’t have other options than using the Wi-Fi from hotels, airports, and coffee shops,… your data is significantly at risk because you cannot ensure that the Wi-Fi is secured. In that case, you need a VPN. And while surfing the web from home using your network is relatively safe, you may consider a VPN as an additional layer of security.

– Censorship resistant: Some online services restrict access to specific locations. It could be because some governments want to limit access to alternative information or something less critical, like restricting access to some streaming series in some countries.

VPN Disadvantages

While VPNs can be beneficial for protecting your privacy and security online, they also have some potential disadvantages, including:

Slower internet speeds: Because VPNs encrypt your data and route it through a remote server, it can slow down your internet connection.

Additional cost: Many VPNs require a subscription fee, which can add to your monthly expenses.

Potential for connection drops: If the VPN connection drops, you may temporarily lose access to the internet or have to reconnect.

Possible privacy concerns: While a VPN can protect your privacy from your ISP and other third parties, some VPN providers may still collect and store your data themselves.

Blocked websites and services: Some websites and streaming services may block access from VPNs to prevent users from accessing content from different regions.

Security risks: Not all VPNs are created equal, and some may have vulnerabilities that hackers or other malicious actors can exploit.

Choosing a reliable VPN provider can help overcome many of the disadvantages associated with using a VPN. Here are some ways a good VPN provider can address these issues:

Faster internet speeds: A reliable VPN provider will have high-speed servers that can help mitigate the impact of encryption and routing, resulting in faster internet speeds.

Cost-effective: A reliable VPN provider will offer subscription plans that are affordable and provide value for money.

Connection stability: A reliable VPN provider will have servers that are stable and reliable, minimizing the chances of connection drops or downtime.

Strong privacy protections: A trustworthy VPN provider will have a clear privacy policy that outlines how it collects, uses and protects user data. Look for providers with strict no-logs policies and use encryption and other security measures to protect user data.

Access to blocked content: A good VPN provider will offer servers in multiple countries, allowing users to bypass geo-blocks and access content from different regions.

Enhanced security: A reliable VPN provider will use state-of-the-art security measures, such as advanced encryption protocols, to protect users from hacking and other security threats.

How to Choose a VPN

If you need to choose a VPN provider but have no technical knowledge about VPNs:

First, you have to understand a few key VPN features.

Second, you must make a list of the features that are mandatory or optional to have. 

Finally, you must check which VPN providers tick all the mandatory features. And if two or more meet the mandatory ones, which one meets most of the optional features?

No Logs Policy

– Mandatory for Anonymity –

The no-logs policy is at the top of the list because without guaranteed anonymity or security; there is no point in having a VPN service.

When choosing a VPN service, make 100% sure that it has a No Logs Policy and that they don’t record or store any information about your online activity.

Kill Switch

Mandatory for Anonymity –

A VPN kill switch is an automatic feature that you can choose to enable or disable, which will cut your internet connection if your VPN service stops working.

After all, if you need a secure and anonymous connection, the last thing you want is to suddenly discover that you have been navigating without security or anonymity because your VPN stopped working without notification.

DNS Leak Protection

– Mandatory for Anonymity –

A VPN DNS leak happens when your Internet Service Provides (ISP) can track your internet activity because your VPN was not correctly configured.

A DNS leak will lead to the following:

– Giving unauthorized third parties the ability to track your online activity.

– Compromising your online privacy by providing information on what you do while you are online.

Some DNS providers have fail-safes always to contain your information through the VPN tunnel.

Look for those VPN providers that provide leak protection.

The Surfshark DNS leak service will let you know if your DNS requests are exposed.

But, if you are not using a VPN, most probably, they will be exposed.

Encryption Types

– Mandatory for Security –

VPN services use encryption to ensure that your data cannot be read even if it is intercepted.

Therefore, the encryption type of a VPN service is of great importance, and you must make sure that the VPN provider you have chosen has the safest encryption possible.

AES-256 is the highest standard, and your VPN provider should have it.

VPN protocols

– Mandatory for Security –

A VPN protocol is a system used to create a secure connection between the VPV servers and the VPN clients.

The most common VPN protocols are OpenVPN and WireGuard.

– OpenVPN is very stable but slower on mobile devices

– WireGuard is newer and not as much tested as the VPN protocol, but it claims to be safer and faster than the VPN protocol.

In general, if a VPN provider uses OpenVPN, it should be considered sufficient. 

Operating System Support

If you use Windows or macOS as operating systems, your devices can probably run any VPN service.

If you use Linux as an operating system, you will need to check what VPN services are supported by your Linux distribution.

Regarding routers, you will need to check what VPN services are supported by your router vendor and model. 

Simultaneous Connections

Some VPN services do limit how many devices you can connect at the same time.

While you can install the VPN service on all the devices you want, you may only run the VPN service simultaneously on 5, 6, 7, and… devices. Depending on the VPN service provider you have chosen.

Note that installing the VPN in the router may count as one device, so all the devices connected to the router can benefit from the VPN advantages.

Split Tunneling

Split tunneling will allow you to choose what apps on your device will run through the VPN.

If you play online games requiring an ultra-fast speed connection, you may not want to use the VPN service to achieve the fastest internet connection possible.

You may or may not need split tunneling, but it is always a good-to-have option.

Servers Types, Quantity and Location

When choosing a VPN provider, you need to check the following:

– How many servers it has. In general, the more, the better.

– In how many countries are the servers located? In general, the more, the better.

– If they are physical or virtual. In general, physical servers are faster than virtual servers.

– The type of servers.

Multi-hop servers

Multi-hop servers route your traffic through multiple servers, so if one server is compromised, your anonymity is not. Just note that while this system enhances your anonymity, it also makes the connection slower because your outgoing and incoming traffic will take longer due to the hops.

You must decide if your anonymity is worth some additional time waiting for this or that page to load.

Streaming servers

Streaming servers are optimized for streaming and will hide from the streaming platforms you use a VPN. Also, the streaming servers are optimized for the large bandwidths that the streaming will require. 

P2P servers

If you are into torrent transfers, you may want your VPN providers to have dedicated P2P servers. P2P servers are optimized for extra security and the large bandwidths needed for P2P transfers.

Customer Support

Last but not least, good customer support is an excellent advantage for any service, including VPN providers.

Hopefully, you will never need it, but if you need it, you want your VPN service provider to have quick and reliable support to bring you back up to speed as quickly as possible.

Best VPN Providers

These are the VPNs that are the best rated by most reviewers.

Any of them should cover your anonymity and security requirements.

Nearly all the reviewers mention NordVPN as one of the best VPN providers. It is packed with valuable features and has a reasonable price.

NordVPN

The biggest and most popular name in the business
VPN

ExpressVPN has got the highest scores from many reviewers, and while it is pricier than other VPN providers, it offers high quality in return. 

ExpressVPN

It may be the overall best rated VPN.
VPN

Surfshark is by far the most economical VPN provider. It may not have as many features as other VPN providers, but it has all you need to protect your anonymity and secure your data.

Shurfshark

Very well rated and very economic plans
VPN

VPN vs Incognito Mode Vs TOR

While browsing in incognito mode or using TOR has some advantages, you need to understand the limitation because otherwise, you may think that your data and anonymity are protected, but they are not…

Browsing in incognito mode will allow you to use the internet without saving the data. This means no search history, cookies, or browser history,… will be held on your browser, but this does not mean that others can see the data you are sending or receiving.

Using incognito mode is advisable when login into financial websites, e.g., banks and crypto exchanges,… so your data is not saved in the browser.

But for anonymity and security, browsing in incognito mode is not sufficient.

Brave browser private window.

When using the TOR network to browse the internet, the TOR user gets an anonymous IP address to protect anonymity. Additionally, the data is encrypted and routed by a network of servers before it reaches its destination.

While TOR is an excellent option and a gear VPN alternative to browser-based internet traffic, it will not protect your anonymity and secure your data while using apps or extensions.

If you use the apps installed in your mobile device to access your bank accounts, crypto accounts, social media accounts,… TOR is not sufficient for you.

Tor browser.

VPN Frequently Asked Questions

The questions from other people are windows to knowledge that maybe we need, but we never consider we missed.

Is a VPN safe?

Not all VPN services are safe.

Some VPNs may keep users’ data logs, voiding two primary advantages of using a VPN: anonymity and security. 

And some VPN services may sell some of your data to third parties, like advertisers.

You must carefully choose your VPN provider.

Does a VPN make the internet slower?

This depends on the VPN provider.

There are some reliable VPN providers with which you will barely notice any internet connection speed decrease.

Is using a VPN illegal?

In some countries, it is illegal.

Look at this article to get a list of countries where VPNs are forbidden.

Should I use a free VPN?

Some VPN providers may offer free VPN, but the cost for you may be a slower internet connection speed.

Other VPN providers may offer free VPN, but they may harvest and sell your data to cover costs.

If you must use a free VPN due to security and financial constraints, do your research on which of the safest free VPN providers.

Can I use a VPN on any device?

A VPN can be installed on PCs, laptops, tablets, cell phones, smart TVs, Windows, Android, and Linux,… 

So the answer is yes, you can use a VPN for most devices.

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