Should I Connect My Home Devices to a VPN?
As society becomes more reliant on technology in the home, the number of people deciding to use a personal Virtual Private Network (VPN) to improve the cybersecurity of their home devices is increasing. In the past, ISPs have been less than scrupulous regarding who they sell your data to, and hackers are becoming more capable every day.
There's also a more entertaining reason to connect to a VPN, which I'll cover below.
An Extra Layer of Security for Your Home Network
VPNs are essential when connecting to public hotspots, but what makes them useful for connecting to your home network? After all, it's extremely unlikely that a bad actor will get away with breaking into your home, replacing your router with their own device, and then waiting for you to transmit information worth stealing - all without being detected.
What's far more likely is that the data you send online, whether via Google, social media, or elsewhere, will be harvested by your ISP and sold to the highest bidder. While these practices sound illegal and are at the very least morally dubious, they have been given the green light by Congress.
For people concerned with this lack of security concerning their private browsing data, connecting to a VPN is a good choice. Essentially, using a VPN is shields your location and browsing data from your ISP by encrypting it. Connecting to the Internet via a VPN may be a little slower, but the peace of mind you get from knowing that you're browsing securely and anonymously dramatically outweighs any potential slowdowns.
The Importance of Choosing a Reputable VPN at Home
With VPN providers, you get what you pay for. While it may seem like a good idea to choose a free VPN to bulk up your cybersecurity at home on the cheap, you may end up running the risk of them selling your data instead of your ISP. Which really defeats the point of using a personal VPN, doesn't it?
As with many other free services, you are the product. To be blunt, if you're not paying for your personal VPN service, it's likely that your provider is doing exactly the opposite of what you want them to - logging your activity and selling your data to their partners.
Many of these free VPN services even have the nerve to tell you that's exactly what they're going to be doing, but because virtually nobody reads terms and conditions, users are often none the wiser.
Two of the biggest culprits, Hola and Betternet, were found to have sold the data of over 152 million users and 38 million users, respectively. Don’t let yourself become a statistic; there are many reliable VPN providers that offer service for less than $15 a month.
The Brighter Side of Personal VPN Use
Go-Globe, a leading Hong Kong-based web design firm estimates that around 50 percent of VPN usage is people accessing what it has dubbed as "restricted entertainment content", and only 31 percent of usage is due to wanting heightened cybersecurity.
Younger people, who may feel their online skills don't leave them vulnerable to attack, are more likely to be using VPNs solely for streaming purposes.
While the term "restricted entertainment content" may sound pretty dubious, it in fact refers to things such as Netflix, Hulu, and sports games that are locked to certain regions. Many streaming service providers limit what can be accessed from certain IP addresses, and the easiest way to circumvent these restrictions is by using a personal VPN.
Most VPN providers host remote servers around the world, allowing you to connect to the Internet from any of their server locations. Your physical location is hidden and instead shows that you are accessing the Internet from the location of the secure server.
Should I Connect to a VPN at Home?
If you're worried about your ISP selling your data or tracking your browsing habits, yes, you should connect to a VPN at home. If you're looking to stream regionally locked or geo-blocked content, you should connect to them via a personal VPN. If all you want is an added layer of security for your browsing habits and financial transactions, a VPN is also right for you.
As long as you use a paid-for service, there's not really any harm that can come from it.