What is a VPN and do I need one?
A VPN is a virtual private network that encrypts data as it moves from one place to another across the internet. Instead of your information traveling across the exposed highways of the world wide web, a VPN keeps your search history, downloaded files, online activities, and geolocation secure in a private tunnel.
The reasons for needing a VPN will vary from person to person, but it's not just ultra-sleuths or spy agencies who benefit from using a VPN. One purpose of a VPN is to protect yourself from hackers and dangerous cybercriminals, but they’re also great for getting unrestricted and anonymous access to the internet.
Benefits and advantages of using a VPN
The advantages of a VPN are numerous. VPN benefits start with cybersecurity and continue on to enhanced user experience. Some readers may be wondering: Is it safe to not use a VPN? That entirely depends on your location, digital activities, need for security, and reliance on unprotected public Wi-Fi connections. The main benefit of using a VPN will always be that you're better off with one than without one.
Here are the main reasons people use a VPN:
Secure public Wi-Fi connections
We all need to hop onto an unsecured public Wi-Fi network from time to time. Whether we're on-the-go at a cafe or connecting to the not-so-advanced Wi-Fi network at our local library or other public space, a VPN makes connecting to a public Wi-Fi network safe.
Stream regionally blocked websites and content
Travelers are all too familiar with this problem. You pay for a streaming service or website access in one region, only to realize you're blocked in another. There are several ways to unblock websites and access restricted content online. Using a VPN is the best and easiest approach.
Some countries limit your ability to freely explore the internet and access information. Censorship most often originates on a national level, but can also occur when connected to a company or school network. A VPN circumvents the censorship problem by giving you easy access to whatever content you want from anywhere in the world.
AVG Secure VPN finds the best server countries to connect to via a VPN, with a choice of 50 locations worldwide.
Prevent ISP tracking
Your ISP, or internet service provider, tracks your online activity and can share this data with advertisers, governmental bodies, and other third parties without your knowledge or consent. They do this for several reasons, not all nefarious, but it’s an invasion of privacy nonetheless. Some countries require ISPs to store your digital activity data, while other countries, like the United States, openly allow ISPs to sell your browsing data to advertisers and data brokers.
If that's not enough of a reason to use a VPN to block ISP tracking, remember that they also have access to your passwords, social media data, and physical location.
Prevent price discrimination
Price discrimination is the practice of pricing products or services differently based on your location, how you typically use and make purchases on the platform (are you a first-time or repeat visitor or customer), and your online shopping preferences (do you tend to shop at luxury stores). Price discrimination has always existed offline, but automated algorithms make dynamic pricing possible online, too.
A VPN can shield you from getting ripped off and being targeted for a higher price based on your browsing and purchasing habits, or assumptions about your socio-econmoical status based on what your IP address is.
Online banking security
Many financial institutions (particularly in Europe) have moved to two-factor authentication to access accounts and sensitive banking data. Worryingly, many banks still do not, and your online banking activity can easily be exposed to hackers on unsecured networks. Some connections are better than others when it comes to the best browsers for security and privacy, but nothing compares to the safety of using your own VPN.
Online shopping security
Everytime you shop online, you share your credit card or other payment details. This information can easily be swooped up by hackers, along with personal data like your full name, date of birth, and address, which can lead to identity theft. A VPN secures your connection so you can shop online privately and safely.
Unblock social media
Is your favorite social media platform or secure messaging app at risk of being banned in your home country? Sound familiar, US-based TikTok users? While threats to ban TikTok in the US never came to fruition, there are plenty of countries that restrict or outright ban the use of social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp. A virtual private network lets you select the county from which you access the internet, granting you the same social media access you would have if you were really there.
Stay anonymous when browsing
Finally, one of the most-cited reasons for using a VPN is online privacy and anonymous browsing. There are many reasons for wanting to stay anonymous when browsing online, many of which relate to the VPN benefits outlined above. Sometimes, you don't even know why you want to stay anonymous online until the fallout of oversharing smacks you in the face.
Do any of these VPN benefits sound relevant to you? AVG Secure VPN offers a free trial of our military-grade encryption network, which you can install on up to 10 devices simultaneously. That's some serious protection at zero upfront cost to see if a VPN is right for your digital life. You'll have the freedom to browse securely on any Wi-Fi network and enjoy unrestricted access to all the sites you need.
Do I need a VPN at home?
Home networks are generally very safe, assuming you’ve set a strong Wi-Fi password. You can also rely on the latest software updates for additional router security. But using a home VPN gives you an extra layer of security against hackers and snoops that isn't provided by your local internet provider.
A home VPN will hide your IP address while you’re online and prevent your ISP from monitoring your activity. Using a VPN on your home network gives you the bonus of anonymous browsing, which can result in better flight deals, unrestricted streaming access, and no digital censorship.
Watch whatever you want online
One of the best reasons for having a VPN on your home network is the freedom to stream. Some VPNs, like AVG Secure VPN, offer simultaneous device connections. That means that everyone in the house can connect at the same time using the same VPN to stream content and watch TV online from all over the world. Simply set up a mobile VPN on iPhone or Android, in addition to your other connected devices, and let the stream-fest begin.
Increased online privacy
Even with a more secure home network, you may still want to set up a VPN on your Windows or Mac computer for home use. It's the extra layer of anonymity that gives you freedom to browse online as you wish. No need to worry about what data your ISP may or may not be selling to the highest bidder, or if you're getting duped by price-gouging. Using a home network VPN means getting peace of mind and freedom to roam.
Smart home protection
Smart homes offer multiple access points for hackers and cyberattacks. Some Internet of Things (IoT) home appliances come with built-in security. But most smaller internet-enabled devices like your smart coffee maker or smart salt shaker (yes, this exists) have little to no security.
In the same way your phone, laptop, tablet, and desktop are connected to your home router, these smart devices are too, and they can act as a backdoor for hackers. A VPN connected directly to your home Wi-Fi router can protect the whole realm of your connected home.
Find better online shopping deals and flights
Call it price discrimination, dynamic pricing, or augmented-pricing structure, the fact remains that not everyone is shown the same price for products online. E-commerce sites, particularly hotels and airlines, might crunch thousands of factors to give a user the “right” price.
Several years ago, Orbitz admitted to displaying higher-priced hotel rooms if a user was searching from a Mac device rather than a PC. Office supply store Staples was found to be pricing online products based on a user's IP address and proximity to a competitor’s store. Another example of dynamic pricing is when Delta Airlines charged frequent flyers up to $300 more per ticket based on the assumption that these flyers are more likely to be traveling out of necessity for business and may be willing to pay more.
Keeping personal data anonymous with a VPN while searching for shopping deals or flights online is a good way to get a fair price. Shop around, know your price range, but be sure you're not being taken advantage of because of the data you leave behind about your buying habits. Consider adding an additional anti-tracking tool, like a secure and private browser that blocks tracking, to make sure advertisers can’t follow you.
Consider your needs for a home VPN and try AVG Secure VPN for free. It provides the right balance of online privacy and ease. So whether you just want to stream content online without a hassle or want to strengthen your digital security, AVG Secure VPN will let you do both.
So, is a VPN necessary?
The reasons to use a VPN are varied and depend on how important a VPN is to your digital life. For example, some gamers use a VPN for gaming to hide their IP address or change their location while playing. The main reasons to use a VPN relate to online privacy and a better user experience.
The ultimate decision to use a VPN is entirely dependent on your own wants and needs, but everyone can benefit from the protections a VPN provides:
Hiding your IP address to keep you anonymous online.
Concealing your online activity from your ISP, employer, or government.
Avoiding price discrimination.
Accessing content freely and circumventing censorship.
Protecting your data while using public Wi-Fi.
Protect your online privacy with AVG Secure VPN
Online privacy is a serious matter that impacts many areas of your life. From advertisers trying to unfairly target you online, to hackers trying to swoop in on an unsecured Wi-Fi network and steal your information, there are many reasons to get a VPN and protect your data and browsing online.
AVG Secure VPN is a trusted virtual private network that keeps your online activity safe with military-grade encryption and choice of 50 servers from various locations around the world. Get worldwide access without restrictions and protect your personal data wherever you are.