Why use a VPN: Unlocking online security and privacy
December 07, 2023
It doesn’t matter what you do on the internet. Whether you’re browsing YouTube or accessing sensitive data for work, you need a layer of security.
If you’re a regular internet user, you’ve probably heard of a VPN. It’s a powerful tool that secures your information and bypasses any location-based restrictions. But what is a VPN, and how does it protect your online activities?
Staying safe online doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s everything you need to know about these tools, their types, and how they work — along with why you should use a VPN for maximum security.
What is a VPN connection, and what does VPN stand for?
A VPN — which stands for virtual private network — is a secure app or browser extension that safely encrypts your internet connection. This technology masks your online activity and identity by routing your internet traffic through a server other than your own, acting as a safeguard by concealing your IP address.
Initially designed to help remote corporate workers ensure secure access from anywhere, VPNs have rapidly evolved both in their tech and their popularity. Many VPNs now use internet protocol security (IPSec) to keep up a standard for managing IP addresses and routing traffic correctly, but there’s also secure sockets layer (SSL), point-to-point tunneling protocol (PPTP), and transport layer security (TLS). All of these are common protocols you’ll find in VPNs.
Unfortunately, VPNs might provide you with a false sense of security. They can’t help you protect access to your bank accounts, prevent your credit card information from being stolen, or stop your social media accounts from being hacked. While they’re useful for establishing a secure connection, you should use proper security measures to protect your information. That includes using a security and privacy-focused super app like IronVest to protect all your online activity.
How does a VPN work?
Let’s dive a little deeper into how a VPN works. When you connect to a VPN, the system encrypts your data before it leaves your device, making it unreadable to anyone who might intercept it. When it reaches its destination, it goes back to normal. This process hides your browsing activity from potential eavesdroppers and shields your personal information from cyber threats. By rerouting your internet traffic, VPNs can also bypass geo-restrictions, granting access to content that might be restricted in your region (like a Netflix movie that’s only available in a different country).
In the context of increasing cyber threats, the role of a VPN extends beyond simple privacy. It acts as a first line of defense against data breaches, hacking attempts, and other forms of digital espionage. VPNs aren’t enough to truly protect your information, so make sure you have other security measures in place.
Diverse VPN types: Tailoring your online protection
VPN technology isn’t one-size-fits-all. There are a few different types out there depending on your needs. If you’re just checking social media on your phone, you likely don’t need heavy-duty security — so choose a mobile VPN without excessive features. But if you’re serious about protecting passwords and other sensitive information on your computer, you can find one to add to your digital security toolbox.
Here’s more about some common types of VPNs:
1. Personal VPN
Type: User-centric security.
Use case: Ideal for individuals who want to protect their online privacy and secure their online activity, especially when accessing the internet from public locations or unfamiliar networks.
Connection method: Typically employs PPTP or L2TP/IPsec for establishing encrypted connections, ensuring private and secure browsing.
2. Business VPN
Type: Corporate data protection.
Use case: Suited for organizations needing to secure sensitive business information, particularly for remote employees or while accessing company resources from external networks.
Connection method: Often utilizes more robust protocols such as IPsec or SSL/TLS to provide secure remote access to internal corporate networks, safeguarding business data from external threats.
3. Mobile VPN
Type: On-the-go security.
Use case: Essential for smartphone and tablet users who require consistent and reliable security, regardless of changing network connections.
Connection method: Commonly uses protocols like IPsec and SSL/TLS, which work well for maintaining stable and secure connections in mobile environments.
4. Browser-based VPN
Type: Lightweight browsing security.
Use case: Perfect for users needing quick and easy protection directly within their web browser — without the complexity of full-scale VPN software.
Connection method: Integrates as a browser extension or add-on, using browser-specific tunneling techniques to encrypt web traffic directly from the browser.
7 compelling reasons to use a VPN for digital safety
It’s time to take digital security seriously. If you aren’t convinced, here are several key reasons to incorporate a VPN into your digital routine:
Improved online security: By encrypting your internet connection, VPNs safeguard your data from hackers, especially on unsecured public Wi-Fi networks.
Access to restricted content: VPNs can change your IP address to one in a different area, bypassing geographical restrictions and granting you access to a broader range of content from various regions.
Safe public Wi-Fi use: A VPN protects your device from potential security breaches when you connect to a public Wi-Fi network.
Avoidance of bandwidth throttling: Some internet service providers slow down your bandwidth when you use too much, also known as bandwidth throttling. A VPN helps you avoid these limitations and keep a consistent internet speed.
Secure file sharing: VPNs provide a secure channel for sharing sensitive files, adding a layer of protection to your digital communications.
Enhanced remote work security: For remote workers, VPNs maintain a secure connection to company networks and protect sensitive information from unauthorized access.
Enhanced privacy and anonymity: VPNs disguise your IP address, making your online actions virtually untraceable and keeping your identity confidential.
Incorporating a VPN into your online activities can significantly enhance your privacy without hindering speed. But for real security, you need more. IronVest's security and privacy-focused super app offers an additional layer of protection, complementing the benefits of a VPN and ensuring comprehensive internet safety.
How do VPNs help with identity theft?
On top of all the reasons above, knowing how to use a VPN has one more benefit: protecting against identity theft. Encrypting your internet connection prevents cybercriminals from intercepting sensitive information such as your personal details, financial data, and login credentials, which they could use to steal your identity and commit fraud.
You’re especially vulnerable when using public Wi-Fi networks because they don’t have their own security. A VPN adds that extra layer. It also masks your IP address, making it more challenging for malicious actors to track your online activities and gather personal information — no matter what Wi-Fi network you’re on. This anonymity deters identity thieves because it obscures the trails they typically follow to target their victims.
While VPNs are essential in guarding against identity theft, combining their use with a security and privacy-focused super app like IronVest ensures a more complete and practical approach to protecting your digital identity. IronVest provides advanced features like masked emails and phone numbers, biometric password protection, and virtual debit and credit cards, shielding your personal information from potential misuse.
Choosing the best VPN service: 9 essential features to look for
While free VPNs may seem like the easiest route, they often lack the robust security features and reliable customer support in paid services. Selecting the right VPN service is critical for ensuring optimal online security and privacy. Here are key features to look for:
Strong encryption standards: A robust VPN uses powerful encryption to secure your data, making it unreadable to unauthorized parties.
No-log policy: Look for a VPN provider that doesn't track or store your online activities so your privacy remains intact.
Kill switch feature: This automatically disconnects your device from the internet if the VPN connection drops, preventing data leaks.
High-speed connection: A quality VPN should offer fast speeds for seamless browsing and streaming.
Multiple server locations: The more server locations a VPN has, the easier it is to find a fast and reliable connection.
User-friendly interface: A VPN shouldn’t complicate your life. Find one with an interface that makes sense to you, especially if you’re new to digital security.
Compatibility with multiple devices: A good VPN app should work seamlessly across various devices and platforms.
Quality customer support: Responsive and helpful support can answer your questions and troubleshoot any VPN-related issues.
Affordable pricing: The VPN should offer reasonable pricing for the features it provides.
It's important to remember that VPNs are just one part of a comprehensive digital security strategy. Products like IronVest's comprehensive, bank-grade security app enhance your protection beyond the scope of standard VPNs.
Beyond VPNs: IronVest's comprehensive digital safeguard
VPNs are just one piece of the digital safety puzzle. They protect your data and expand your internet freedom, but for comprehensive protection, you need more.
IronVest fills this gap. A holistic super app, it goes way beyond VPN capabilities, offering extensive protection for everything from emails to online shopping. Elevate your digital defense with IronVest and safeguard all of your online activities — not just some.
Ready to secure your digital life? Get IronVest today.