Some days ago I got a call from a telemarketer, or so I thought who wanted me to try a new service which would double my internet speeds, and it was for free. They gave me a link to visit, fill out the form to register, there and in return, I’ll get access to a super-fast beta tested internet service. Though being the paranoid nerd that I’ve all been, I visited that website via a popular VPN service. Filled out the form, and hit ‘subscribe,’ to my amazement the person calling me hung up. I tried calling back, but it seems this was just a one-way number.

It wasn’t hard to figure out that this was a scam meant to lure me into using the website, with my real IP address, take my personal information and then install some kind of trojan on my computer. Once they would have had the trojan on the computer, those guys could see pretty much everything I do which is everything from online banking to reading hateful emails from my ex. So, for me, this was just another instance out of many where using a VPN saved the day.

How did using a VPN deter these scammers?

Well for one they didn’t get my real IP address. So, there was no way they could remotely connect to my computer. The second thing that happened was they couldn’t figure what web browser or operating system I was using. Yes! In case you were wondering websites know what operating system and browser you’re using and it can be pretty darn detrimental to your privacy too.

Being hooked up through a reliable, high-quality VPN service is a must-have in 2018. In the past, I’ve recommended it to people who were mainly dealing with a lot of sensitive information. But in 2018, its recommended to everyone mainly because of the growing instances of hacking and the social engineering aided attacks like the one I mentioned above. What’s even more frustrating is the fact that many of these scammers are based overseas so unless they get as big as Kimdotcom, the government is not going to shake a leg to have these people put behind bars. Obviously, murder and billion dollar scams are a higher priority.

A VPN helps you break the censorship barrier

Now apart from being hacked your ISP may also be spying on your online activity. Plus, for many people, their internet is censored. You only ever find out when you’re suddenly unable to access a website. Then there is the fact that ISPs are mandated to retain your browsing profile. Which simply means that with a court order every website you’ve ever accessed becomes the property of the FBI or local law enforcement. Even if you don’t have anything to hide just the realization that your girlfriend may find out about let’s say your second option is pretty harrowing! Interestingly, in 2018 it’s a lot easier to get a court order to pull up internet records as opposed to phone records. So, a VPN has your butt covered!

Accessing the internet through public WiFi services is safer

In 2018, there are more people than ever before accessing the internet through public WiFi routers. Almost every café, restaurant, and eatery across North America and Canada offer their patrons free WiFi access. Though these routers are in most cases unsafe and are used by hackers to spy on people or take over their computers to steal critical private information like banking details, social security information, pictures, etc. However, with a VPN service, you can make it near impossible for any hacker to access your computer or bombard you with a Denial of Service type attack. Speaking of which the number of denial of service attacks has seen a sharp decline in recent years owing to the growing use of VPNs and cloud services.

No more Net Neutrality in 2018

The Obama era Net Neutrality law meant that ISPs had to treat all traffic to all websites equally. Now that this law is in the dustbin or at least in the annals of re-appeals, the one thing we do know is that ISPs can throttle your access to certain websites that don’t play nice with them. While that apparently means bad news for services like Netflix and Hulu, it also means that if you use these services its fair to assume, then there is going to be a significant delay in service.

Also, given the fact that ISPs have the ability to monitor and as Edward Snowden revealed even track every word you type, not having this law gives ISPs more power. So, you’re undoubtedly better off accessing the internet through a VPN because that way even if they tend to throttle some services you won’t be affected. For instance, if for some reason they choke your access to Netflix and it takes forever to load episodes of Young Sheldon, accessing it through a high-speed VPN will solve the problem.

A VPN is a silver bullet but not a magic one!

While a VPN will render you near invisible like it did in my case by hiding the IP and DNS configuration, it is not magic. Things like cookies do track your internet usage. Websites like FacebookGoogle, Hulu, Amazon, etc. all use cookies to track what you’ve been up to and ensure that your settings are as they should be when you return to the site. The easiest way to prevent that from happening is to use the browser’s ‘invisible’ mode. In Firefox it’s called “Private Window.” This ensures that websites can’t put cookies on your computer or use JavaScript to gather information on you. Besides, it’s not difficult to use either.

Get a service that works on both computers and mobile devices

In 2018 you don’t just need to worry about accessing the internet on your laptop, but the same goes for your iPhone, Samsung series phones or anything else that has the ability to hook up to the internet. So, when choosing a service make sure that one subscription can serve you on both devices. If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, make sure that the service has an app that you can install and use, the same goes for if you use an Android device. This one step will probably save you a lot of money since you don’t need a separate subscription on each device.

Never access the internet without a VPN

Just as you’d never leave home without a gun during the days of the Wild West, you need protection online. The internet today is a shady place, and a VPN is your weapon. Just make sure its reliable and ready to fire when the time comes!

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