Damages caused by cybercrime are projected to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021. Yep, you read that right, trillion. Admittedly, a significant proportion of that figure will be attributed to losses incurred by major companies due to data breaches and high profile hacking incidents. However, it still highlights the rising importance of protecting your online data while browsing the web.
Whether a VPN qualifies as a necessity or not is a matter of opinion; however, there are certainly more benefits than drawbacks to running one on your system.
What is a VPN, and how does one work?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and is what people use when they want to establish a protected connection while using public networks. It achieves this by masking your IP address by redirecting your internet connection through a remote server run by the VPN host.
With a VPN, the remote server becomes the data source instead of your ISP (internet service provider). This means all of your browsing data is encrypted, which prevents third parties from intercepting and viewing the information you send and receive online.
Surprisingly, there are several benefits one can enjoy from running a VPN on their system, and some of them may surprise you if you’re not familiar with how a VPN works and their capabilities.
Protection from hacking
Hackers attack every 39 seconds, which is an average of 2,244 times a day. While most people may not consider an online hack to be a threat to them or their private information, it’s essential to take steps to prevent online theft just as you would secure your valuable items in the real world.
Usually, hackers attempt to seize personal information such as your email login, bank details, address, social security number, and even photos and videos. This information can then be used against you in many ways, from identity theft to blackmail.
Here are some of the main ways hackers attempt to access your data:
- Evil twin attacks – The creation of fake wifi networks to trick you into signing into connecting.
- Malware injections – A malicious software that gives hackers access to your devices.
- Man in the middle attacks – Hackers place their devices in the middle of public wifi hotspots and your device, monitoring your data and attempting to steal sensitive information.
- Wifi sniffing – A computer program that intercepts and logs traffic that passes over a computer network.
Fortunately, all of these attacks are prevented using a VPN, as the hacker will not have access to the encryption key required to view your data. In other words, a VPN makes you a much more difficult target for hackers as your data becomes next to impossible to hack.
These days, it’s as easy as ever to protect your data thanks to direct browser extensions such as the VPN Firefox service from CyberGhost VPN. Plus, it’s completely free!
The remote work trend continues to rise
Did you know that 88% of organizations encouraged their employees to work from home since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic? While this adaptation to the way we work has helped the economy continue to chug along throughout these troubling times, it also means there are more opportunities for hackers than ever before.
How so? Well, a large proportion of the remote workforce use public networks in places such as coffee shops, co-working spaces, and libraries These locations are prime spots for hackers as they can easily intercept data from unprotected devices connected to unsecured wifi hotspots.
As the remote working trend looks set to continue into 2021, it’s essential you use a VPN if you are somebody who frequently accesses public wifi hotspots, especially if you hold sensitive information on your device.
Geo-blocking occurs when certain online content is unavailable to you due to your geographical location. There are various reasons why this might happen, such as the blocking of illegal content, licensing, copyright, and even price discrimination.
Some famous examples would be China blocking social media and Turkey blocking over 127,000 websites, including the online video platform giant YouTube. In the UAE, VOIP services such as WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype, Discord, and Facetime are blocked as the government wants to keep a monopoly over the telecommunications industry.
Geo-blocking of important services and online information provides a very genuine threat to residents of affected countries, and fortunately, a VPN can help bypass these restrictions.
With the use of a VPN client, you can choose to log in from a wide variety of virtual servers across the globe. For example, someone living in Turkey could log in to a server-based in the USA and enjoy web browsing as if they were a US resident, unblocking vast amounts of web content that would have been inaccessible to them previously.
It’s up to you whether you determine a VPN to be a necessity going into 2021, although with the threat of cybercrime on the rise, it seems like a no brainer when you consider the other benefits you can enjoy too.
Even if you don’t live in a region that suffers from oppressive geo-blocking restrictions, you can still use a VPN to log in from different countries to enjoy some of their perks, such as additional Netflix content and even cheaper plane tickets and hotel bookings!