Between all the cybercriminals and downright snoops in the world, it’s getting more difficult to protect your privacy. You may think having antivirus software installed on your device is enough protection, but it’s not.
Don’t get us wrong, antivirus is critical in keeping your gadgets from being infected with malware — but it won’t safeguard your privacy. For that, you need the help of a virtual private network.
A VPN gives you a secure bridge between your devices and the internet. You might not even realize just how important this is and all the ways a VPN comes in handy. Keep reading for five uses you might not know about.
1. Keep an eye on the competition
Let’s say you’re a small business owner who provides cleaning services. You’ll want to keep an eye on what other local companies that offer the same services are up to. That way you know exactly what they are doing right and wrong so you can gain a competitive edge.
But you don’t want the competition knowing you’re stalking their website. By using a VPN, you can visit any website as many times as you’d like without the owner knowing.
How, you ask? Easy, a VPN blocks your IP address so no one can keep tabs on what you’re up to on the web.
2. Stop those targeted ads
By now you’ve heard of — and constantly see — targeted ads. Sites like Facebook and Google track your every online move and sell that information to marketing agencies. In turn, those agencies bombard you with advertisements for products you may have searched for or clicked on before.
That’s why you get that creepy feeling sometimes when you search online for a specific pair of shoes that you want to buy and later see ads for the same pair of shoes everywhere you go online. Advertisers have a better chance of selling you products they know you’re already interested in, hence the targeting.
Now, you might actually like seeing targeted ads. Some people feel that they’re going to see ads anyway, so why not have them promote products you care about.
Others, not so much. It’s just weird seeing an ad pop up on Facebook for the necklace you were looking to get your wife for her birthday earlier this week. Not to mention, it could ruin the surprise if she uses the same device that you used for research.
If you want to stop those targeted ads in their tracks, use a VPN. Marketers won’t be able to feed you targeted ads. Problem solved.
3. Your ISP is watching you
Speaking of creepy, how about the fact that your internet service provider knows your every move online? It’s true. No matter which sites you visit, your ISP knows about it.
Every device has an IP address assigned to it which allows your ISP to track your online activity. Even if you’re only visiting harmless sites like Netflix, what business is it of your ISP? And there are some sites you just don’t want others to know you visit. We all want to preserve what little privacy we have left in this world.
This is even more important outside the U.S. Some nations censor the internet and block residents from visiting certain websites. If you’re ever traveling abroad, a VPN will let you visit any website that you’d like even if the local government doesn’t want you to.
4. Don’t miss out on the best deals
Here’s something most people don’t know about. When you are shopping online, every retail site you visit tracks you. They see your IP address and know you have your eye on that shiny sequin hat. You’ve looked at it on their website three times today already, after all.
Some retailers will even change the prices on items that you’ve been thinking about buying. You may see it for a great price the first time you look first thing in the morning but decide to think about it some more.
When you go back to the same site later that day, the price has gone up. Why? The retailer sees your IP address and knows you’re back yet again checking out the same hat. That’s all it takes for them to increase the price.
Additionally, some retailers charge different prices depending on where in the U.S. or the world you’re shopping.
With a VPN, you don’t have to worry about missing the best prices ever again since your IP address and true location are blocked.
5. Safely connect to public Wi-Fi
Now, you may already know this one, but it’s important enough that it bears repeating: Public Wi-Fi is a security nightmare.
We’re all feeling a little stir crazy at this point after being cooped up at home for what seems like forever. Now that things are slowly opening back up in the world, you’re probably itching to visit your favorite coffee shop.
While you’re there, don’t be tempted to connect to the free public Wi-Fi. It’s one of the biggest mistakes you could make while out and about, even more so than wearing that sequin hat. Cybercriminals are always trolling public networks, just waiting for unsuspecting victims to log on so they can steal you blind.
You probably know better than signing into your bank’s website on a public connection, but signing into a social media site like Facebook isn’t any better.
An enterprising thief can steal your Facebook credentials, can log in to your account and get enough personal information to steal your identity. And all you wanted was to enjoy a caramel macchiato in peace. With a VPN, you can.
It’s important, though, to use a VPN you can trust. We’ve seen it time and time again: Free VPN programs and apps that pretend to protect you, while silently selling your data and collecting everything you do. Even if you find a free option that’s not shady, it’s probably painfully slow. It’s free for a reason.
Protect your privacy. Get three months free when you sign up for one year at ExpressVPN.com/Kim.