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The internet is safer now—but a VPN is still essential protection

The internet is a much more encrypted place than it was 10 years ago—that means much improved privacy and security for all.

HTTPS, once a rarity, has become so widespread that the Electronic Frontier Foundation will soon discontinue HTTPS Everywhere, a browser plugin that has helped keep users‿traffic from straying onto unencrypted connections for more than a decade. In their words, “HTTPS is actually everywhere.‿So, mission accomplished?

Perhaps, for very specific privacy tools like HTTPS Everywhere. For VPNs and other tools whose benefits go beyond encryption, it’s onwards and upwards.

Here’s why security experts still recommend VPNs for the average internet user.

Risks still abound in browsers and apps

While standards have improved over time, more work must be done before HTTPS adoption reaches 100%. The long tail needs some encryption too!

To keep your data safe, a VPN is an excellent choice. A virtual private network ensures that you have encryption protection on all outgoing and incoming connections. A VPN also secures all other sensitive information such as bank account numbers or login credentials for websites.

HTTPS is a safety measure that every online service and mobile app should implement. However, a VPN can provide an extra layer of protection. HTTPS is an important security measure that helps protect your information, but it’s not perfect. You still need to be careful about what sites you visit and how they’re accessed on the Internet because there are risks like manipulator-in-the-middle attacks. Someone could trick you into connecting with their browser instead of yours. Or sometimes even downgrade back down from HSTS (which only works for some people).

As a result, many people are unsure what information they should trust, or unaware which sites or apps store their data.

Is Private Browsing and VPN Really Secure?

Whether you run a business or go online for yourself, you probably know that browsing the web can open you and your organization up to all sorts of risks.

By connecting to the internet, you expose yourself and your business to hackers and thieves, who could steal anything from personal information and web browsing history to payment data.

So, when it comes to protecting yourself and your business online, you may have looked into private browsing or choosing a VPN. But which of these is right for you?

Keeping your internet activity private

Furthermore, even in a world where HTTPS and other encryption standards are fully adopted, third parties like ISPs (internet service providers) and Wi-Fi network operators will still know what websites and apps you use. That’s because your connections to sites and services are established using DNS and SNI (TLS Server Name Indication), which are unencrypted by default, and thus fully visible to your ISP.

When you use a VPN, you are entrusting the VPN company to protect this data rather than exposing it to your ISP. Most subscription-based VPN providers are solely in the business of protecting user privacy and security. As prominent web security expert Troy Hunt has said, “I’d much rather trust a reputable VPN to keep my traffic secure, private and not logged, especially one that’s been independently audited to that effect.‿

With the private, encrypted DNS provided by some VPNs (ExpressVPN included), your internet activity is your business. ExpressVPN also goes the extra mile to protect your privacy and security through not storing any connection or activity logs, running our VPN servers in RAM only, and having PwC independently audit both of these facts.

Why should I use a home VPN?

Using a VPN at home is as important as having an antivirus installed ‿its vital protection. The primary purpose of a VPN is security and privacy, but they're actually really versatile. Here are some other ways you can use a VPN at home:

Protect yourself against cybercrime

In 2021, more than half of your most valuable possessions probably exist digitally. For cybercriminals, your identity and financial details are gold dust. One of the best ways to protect yourself is with a VPN.

When you use a VPN, you make it much harder for attackers to access your private information. Even if they target your device with router hacks or MITM attacks, they won’t be able to decrypt your data.

Get past firewalls and network restrictions

VPNs can help you circumvent firewalls imposed by governments and institutions like universities. To restrict your online movements, these organizations need to see said movements in real time. Using a VPN can mask your activities, letting you slip through the firewalls.

Some VPNs suffer connection losses, which could momentarily expose your activity. That’s why NordVPN comes with the in-built Kill Switch. This feature automatically cuts your internet connection if your data isn’t fully protected and only reconnects once your VPN is active again.

Maintain personal privacy

Everyone has a right to privacy, both in the real world and online. But there’s no shortage of people and corporations who’d like to get a look at your browsing activity. In fact, many ISPs are legally allowed to sell your data to corporations, advertisers, research bodies, and government agencies.

A VPN gives you back control of your internet privacy. When you switch it on, even your ISP won’t be able to track you. If you're already asking yourself “should I get a VPN?‿The answer is probably yes. Especially if you’re tired of intrusive snoopers, the selling of your data, and constant online ads.

VPNs can make digital sharing more secure

When you share files with someone, you don’t want a stranger spying on the transfer. Premium services like NordVPN offer effective P2P file sharing. With powerful encryption protocols, your uploads and downloads will be safe from prying eyes.

Protect your devices

A VPN can protect your camera and other devices (e.g. IoT items). An unprotected camera is a treasure trove for a particularly cruel cybercriminal. Other devices, like IoT baby monitors, doorbells, or appliances, can also remain vulnerable if you browse unprotected. Set up your VPN directly on your router to protect every device in your home.

For all of the reasons we've mentioned here, we strongly recommend using a VPN, both at home and elsewhere. With just a few clicks, you can supercharge your online security and protect your data.