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VG Tuesday Tips: What Is a VPN, How Does It Protect Me, and What Cool Perks Does it Offer?

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By Filip TRUȚĂ, Bitdefender

Virtual Private Network use has soared during the pandemic. Everyone from students to corporate employees to government workers was forced to employ VPN to access digital assets remotely and meet security protocols. While the pandemic itself has been a drag for everyone, it also drew attention to the ever-growing threat of cyberattacks when connecting to the web without the proper security layers. Now, VPN is an instrumental aspect of our lives.

A VPN enables users to send and receive data across the web as if their devices were directly linked through a custom tunnel network. Over this network, the data is encrypted so only the user and the server know what’s sent back and forth. In short, VPN lets us browse anonymously and securely.

VPN usage soars

According to Statista, VPN use in the United States surged during the coronavirus crisis. In the first two weeks alone (March 8 – March 22, 2020), VPN usage increased 124%, with the following months registering a similar pattern.

However, according to the database company, other factors also contributed to the jump in VPN use in the past year. Besides telework and online schooling, VPN solutions gained popularity for functions such as accessing geo-restricted digital media content (i.e. Netflix) and social networks, access to different news sources, etc.

“As some countries restrict access to many news and media outlets, users frequently use VPN to stay up to date with crucial developments,” Statista notes.

But there’s yet another key reason why everyone should consider using a VPN, especially on their phone – public WiFi.

A WiFi network is considered unsafe when:

·      the network doesn’t require a password to join

·      the network belongs to a public place (hotel, airport, restaurant, coffee shop, mall, lounge, etc )

·      the network uses obsolete / weak security or encryption protocols

Networks in places like airports, lounges, hotels, restaurants and shopping malls are easy targets for those trying to capture and exploit your traffic. A VPN helps you secure your traffic with military-grade encryption, making it impossible for anyone to access it.

It’s also worth noting that pressure on ISP infrastructure is constantly increasing, especially during these times. Not all of them can keep up with the demand and some may choose to cap your bandwidth, depending on the type of traffic. This can affect your experience while gaming or streaming your favorite show. With a VPN, your traffic is encrypted and no one can see what you are doing online, not even your ISP.

Furthermore, many travel portals and airline companies use a dynamic pricing mechanism to tailor their offers. A VPN can let you bypass the more expensive ‘tailored’ offers.

Bitdefender VPN

Bitdefender VPN protects your online presence by encrypting all Internet traffic, whether you’re on Windows, macOS, Android or iOS-powered Apple devices. Our ultra-fast VPN keeps your online identity and activities safe from bad actors, ISPs and snoops. When you connect to a free / public WiFi network, Bitdefender informs you of the risks associated with unsafe WiFi, and recommends proceeding over VPN.

Note that VPN doesn’t equal malware protection. That’s why we recommend users acquire the full Bitdefender Business Security bundle for complete protection against all types of cyber threats. 

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