The Many Reasons You Might Need A VPN

2017-05-25 by Sara Stringer

A VPN, or virtual private network, lets you surf the web anonymously. Not only does it cloak your IP address so that your internet activity cannot be traced back to your computer, it also allows you to share information across your network privately, such as between your home computer and a work computer on the same network. There are many reasons why all kinds of people should consider using a VPN. Here are just a few:

Access Private Patient or Client Data

Say you are a medical professional who gets a call after hours and you need to access your patient data from home or from another off-site location. You don’t want to compromise private data by using your software for managing patients over an unsecured network. That’s how paparazzi can find out a star has HIV, for example, or business rival can learn the CEO of a company is terminally ill. You need to use a VPN to keep that data private.

The same is true for any professionals who handle patient data, such as psychologists or dentists, and for professionals who handle sensitive client data, such as financial analysts, social workers, lawyers, or teachers. It is important that you keep patient or client data private – not only is it part of your professional duty, but your patients or clients are trusting you to do it.

Browse Online in Foreign Countries

In the United States, you can look at just about any information online without criminal repercussions. (There are exceptions, of course.) You can criticize your government without retribution, and you can openly question leaders. This is not the case in some other countries. You might be visiting or working in a country that would punish you for visiting certain websites or expressing certain sentiments online. You could even be put in jail. The consequences can be severe.

On a lighter note, there are many countries that you could be visiting or working where video websites or streaming services won't work, such as YouTube, Netflix or Hulu. By using a VPN, you can continue to access these entertainment sites that you love while you are away from home. You can also browse the internet freely and say what you would like to say without fear that you will be imprisoned or otherwise punished.

Protect Financial Information

You can pay just about all of your bills online now, you can conduct all of your banking online, and you can manage your investments. Every time you log on, someone could be waiting to steal your information. That could lead to a "simple" theft of some of your money, or it could lead to someone stealing your identity and opening multiple accounts in your name.

Using a VPN can help you keep your financial information safe. If you run a business, using a VPN will help you protect your clients' financial information -- and your reputation.

Free vs. Paid VPN Providers

You can download a VPN for free in some cases, though most are available only after paying. The best VPN servers are those you have to pay to access. They have invested more in the security of their network, and they regularly update their software and shore up their network to ensure that you are protected against the latest attacks.

Free VPN providers are also not really “free.” Sure, you may not have to pay any money to use them, but the company offering the VPN still has to make money somehow. The company makes money by selling advertising. So you may not have to pay for the software, but you will still have to “pay” by sitting through annoying ads that you don’t want to see. It’s possible that some of these ads could also put spyware or cookies on your computer, which compromises your online safety. It’s best to find a paid VPN that has a secure reputation and to use it anytime you are browsing online.

Whether you are a professional who needs to protect private data or you just want more online privacy, a VPN is a valuable asset. Everyone is vulnerable online these days, so browsing under cover of a VPN ensures that your information and your identity are protected.

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Sara Stringer

Sara is an author who covers a wide spectrum of topics.

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