Going by the latest stats, the internet now has around five and a half billion users from all corners of the globe. For comparison’s sake, only sixteen million used this miraculous technology in 1995, and in 2010, it broke through the two billion mark. So, the number of individuals who surf the World Wide Web has more than doubled in the past decade, and what is super interesting is that about a fifth of them (1.2 billion) are using VPN services when browsing online.
VPN stands for a virtual private network. It is a protocol created to facilitate a safer internet connection. It debuted as a concept in 1996 when an employee at Microsoft developed the now-obsolete Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol for virtual private networks. In short, VPN services funnel a user’s data through a proxy-like server, hiding their identity from accessing parties and their internet providers. The concept exploded in popularity post-2017 when it became public that US ISPs collect and sell users’ browsing history.
However, privacy issues aside, VPN also has other cool uses that can make life easier for most, and we break down a few below.
Circumvent Targeted Bandwidth Throttling
What is bandwidth throttling? It is a practice that many ISPs engage in to slow down users’ internet speeds. They do this primarily to stifle network congestion and manage potential overloads. As a general rule, ISPs don’t throttle just about anyone. It depends on multiple factors, such as how much one uses the internet and for what. Concerning the latter, that may happen to ensure compliance with local laws. Alternatively, ISPs may put a chokehold on high-bandwidth activities that strain their network, occupying a disproportionate resource amount. VPN services help by ciphering a user’s online traffic so that his ISP is no longer privy to his activity sessions. That makes individual users unable to get targeted.
Save Money on Services & Products
Here is something many non-tech-savvy internet users don’t know. Online retailers, airlines, and service providers offer different prices to residents of specific territories. Furthermore, they use tracking cookies to tailormade offers suitable to a customer’s general purchasing habits and internet activities. VPN software allows clients to leverage multiple currencies and points of sale to get the best deals possible. That is possible via incognito mode in a preferred Web browser and IP spoofing.
Bypass Gambling Restrictions
Online gambling is a massively popular pastime nowadays, but not every state/country allows it, or to the same degree. That limits gamblers’ potential to claim lucrative bonus offers supplied at many high-end online casinos for real money. Their physical location also stops them from enjoying the best gaming experience available. Nonetheless, curious gamblers don’t have to fret about these issues, as VPN permits them to access any gambling site that tickles their fancy. They must check the restricted countries list and select an IP address from an allowed region. It is paramount that they keep using the same one when they revisit their chosen platform to avoid getting their account banned. Naturally, players can also use a fake IP to hide their gaming pastime from their ISP and operator, purely for security reasons.
Avoid Government Censorship
Did you know that YouTube is the second-most popular website, with more than two billion daily users? Yet, its censorship persists. China, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Iran, and others don’t allow it. That is a common practice for regions with dictatorial regimes or super-conservative values. Thus, for those living in such territories who wish to browse the World Wide Web freely, VPN is the only option.
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Make Public Wi-Fi More Secure
When logging onto public Wi-Fi, users leave themselves vulnerable to nefarious parties connected on the same network monitoring the data they share through it. That is impossible if one funnels this information through a proxy tunnel like the one VPN services supply. These also encrypt the shared details, making them unreadable by intercepting sides. Know that hackers love public networks because they are often unencrypted and unsecured, perfect for so-called man-in-the-middle attacks.
Prevent Traffic Policing
As touched upon in the intro, in countries like the US, ISPs gather their customers’ online traffic data, analyzing multiple metrics, such as the number of sites visited, bounce times, and more. They also can share this data with law enforcement if authorities produce a summon for these records, per proper procedures, allowing them to gather data for various legal proceedings. Through VPN use, internet browsers can limit traffic policing and keep their Web activities a secret.
VPN is not novel tech, but its adoption has substantially swelled in the past five years for adequate reasons. People have become wiser about the importance of online security and are learning how by utilizing it, they can get the most out of the internet in terms of services accrued and safe surfing.