In our increasingly digital world, it’s more important than ever to prioritize online privacy and security. Over the past few years, we’ve seen developed countries step up their internet surveillance, and in some cases, internet censorship. During the “Arab Spring,” we watched Turkey cut off access to Twitter. Recently China has openly admitted to censoring the Internet. Iran has made it near impossible to log on to all popular western social media sites. Perhaps worst of all, we’ve learned that even in United States of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, the government engages in large-scale surveillance that jeopardizes personal privacy.

Thanks to technological advancements, you can take matters into your own hands and protect yourself while standing up for your rights. Perhaps one of the best ways to do this is by using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN for short. VPN technology has been on the rise in recent years, especially with all the hype about the NSA and Edward Snowden. Let’s take a look at 5 reasons why you should be using a VPN:

1. Log on to Public Wifi with Confidence.

If you’re like me, you’re constantly logging onto the web from coffee shops, airports, and other places that offer public wifi. The problem with public wifi is that it isn’t secure. It’s far too easy for a hacker or network administrator to gain access to your sensitive information while you use public wifi. With a VPN, this is not possible. VPNs encrypt your browsing data so you can safely login to your net banking account or even go online shopping without worrying about someone looking at your activity.

2. Access Blocked Content While Traveling.

If you’re a frequent traveler and find yourself in remote locations a few times a year, you’ll want to use a VPN to access content that is blocked outside of the US. For example, popular on-demand entertainment services like Pandora, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and others are blocked to users who try to access these services with foreign IP address. By using a VPN, not only can you change your foreign IP address to a US IP address, you can also start using these services as if you never left the US in the first place.

3. Bypass a restrictive Network.

If you’re frequently logging onto the web in the workplace or at school, you may experience restrictive network controls. Perhaps you can’t log onto Facebook, or a certain site is blocked due to keywords found on the site. To bypass this type of restrictive network, you can use a VPN. It will get you past the restrictions, and also encrypt and keep your browsing data private.

4. Share Files Privately.

In recent years, there have been massive crackdowns on file sharing around the world. Now let me be clear here: I am in no way advocating for you to share or download material that is copyrighted. That’s your own prerogative and you do so at your own risk. I’m simply saying that using a VPN is one way to share legal files, and even illegal files, in privacy.

5. Because You Have a Right to Privacy.

Perhaps the best reason to use a VPN is because you have a right to privacy, and by using a VPN you’re claiming this right. Some look at VPN users as people who have something to hide. This is flawed thinking. VPN users are normal citizens, just like you and me, who believe in their right to privacy.

There are so many other great reasons to start using a VPN, but the bottom line is it’s more important today than ever to start taking your internet security seriously. I’ve heard far too many horror stories of people having their credit card info or even their entire identities stolen as a result of poor internet safeguards on their part. Using a VPN is the first and best step you can take towards protecting yourself on the world wide web.

If you have any questions about VPN technology or which VPN services I recommend, I’d be happy to answer your questions in the comment section below.

Thanks for reading and safe surfing!

Here's how: Configuring a free VPN solution in your home

Featured photo credit: Security concept, computer key with lock icon. via Shutterstock

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