This is a Guest Post by Cassie
An extremely popular tool used by both security professionals and the average internet user, the Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a service that allows users to connect to an offsite secure server via an encrypted connection. Originally developed for businesses so that remote workers and executives could be able to safely access company files and records from their homes, many commercial providers of the technology have popped up in recent years offering a security blanket to users. On top of the security, users and businesses have found many other uses, many of which can be easily applied to blogging and related fields.
The way a VPN works is simpler than you may think. Once you have a VPN application installed on your device (or have configured your network settings to connect to the network), you can figuratively hit the switch and connect to the offsite server of your choice. There are usually many to pick from in many different countries, which is an important distinction because while connected to the VPN you will appear as though you are in the country the server you are connected to is located. The connection will be protected by an encryption that will effectively act like a tunnel for your data to travel through over the network. This means that no person or organization can see what you are up to online, regardless of the network you are using.
Here are the top 5 reasons for bloggers to use a VPN:
If you are someone who takes your blog seriously, then you need to keep all of your connections open and keep a digital ear to the ground looking for the next big lead that could launch your blog to the next level. A single piece of information could change the course of your blog for months, and timing is everything when it comes to information.
Yet depending on where you are, you will be blocked out by certain websites because of contract disputes, rights issues or a lack of interest by the content provider in the region. There are usually referred to as regional restrictions or geo-blocks. They can be absolutely frustrating for the users they inconvenience. If you are blocked from a service you paid for, such as Netflix, this is even more infuriating. Why should what country you are in matter when it comes to the internet, which is by its very nature an international community? Combine that with the legal technicalities involved and the efforts made to capitalize on geo-blocks by certain companies, and no sense can be made of the system.
Fortunately, a VPN is just the tool to remove this potential headache from your life. Since a VPN connects you to a server in a different area or region than your own, regional restrictions don’t have to affect you. Do you need to watch something on the BBC player for a post later that night, but are not in Britain? All you need to do is use the VPN to connect to a server in Britain, and you’re all set. Are you in Canada and want to watch American television on a network website? A VPN can help you. Whatever you need to write your next post or grab your next lead, you will be able to get it without fear that you are in the wrong country at the wrong time.
Public Network Security:
Security is the primary intent of VPN providers and the primary reason most users get a VPN. It is essential in today’s blogging culture to be constantly be connected to your passion and your craft, as something can change at any minute or your blog could find itself under attack when you are out of the house. You need to be able to respond to any friendly comment or malicious threat and maximize opportunities that you find online. This likely means that you need to connect to the public networks frequently found in restaurants, cafes, public buildings, information centers, hotel lobbies and more.
While the ability to access the internet via public networks is convenient, it is also incredibly dangerous for your blog and your entire online identity. Hackers love using public networks to make a quick buck siphoning information from unsuspecting users. They do so using a basic setup and “sniffer” programs that intercept any data coming to and from your computer over the unprotected network. The information is obtained will appear much like it would appear on your screen, and a skilled hacker will save it all and use everything to their advantage to take as much from you as possible.
No strong password will help you, and the security questions you have, if answered, will go right to the hackers as well. Regarding your blog, if you log in, a hacker will simply just take over your blog using intercepted login information. They will then most likely spam your readership and sell the domain to the highest bidder.
This makes a VPN essential to anyone blogging outside of their house. The encryption a VPN has will create a tunnel between your device and the outside server, specifically protecting it from the kinds of programs hackers and cybercriminals use to steal your login information. This means you will be protected from outside onlookers of any kind on public networks.
Here is a small online experiment you can try. Go to a search engine and search for “what is my IP address,” making sure to take note of how quickly you get the result. Either in the search engine itself or in one of the first links you find, you will probably be able to see the rough area of where you live. Anyone who has your IP address can track down your location via it with as much effort as you put into the above exercise. Scary, isn’t it? As a blogger who might sometimes blog about sensitive subjects (or wants to keep their options open), it might be a good idea to be able to maintain a high level of privacy. A VPN can help here.
Since a VPN will mask your IP address, you can rely upon it to make sure that your activities are concealed when using the internet. You don’t need someone snooping around your personal life. If you are using a VPN, no one can track your location, making you safer. You won’t have to worry about packages at your doorstep or hate mail for a political statement should someone feel the need to harass you. Would you rather look as though you are tweeting form the middle of Nigeria? There are VPNs that can accommodate you.
In addition, privacy also means privacy from corporate entities trying to track you so that they can market products to you. Certainly you’ve noticed the various ads on social media accounts and news websites that seem to know you just a little bit too well? Some of the targeted advertising involved cookies which are an entirely different topic, but a lot of it also has to do with your location. Companies will pay a lot of money to try to sway your opinion both as a person and as a blogger, and it is your job to resist. With a VPN and the benefits that it provides, you will be able to make sure that there is a clear and unbiased internet for you to explore when you do your blogging research.
Avoiding Government Censorship:
The government uses regional restrictions in order to censor people, but were you aware of the full extent many governments go to in order to conduct surveillance on you? If you want a good example, look up the XKeyscore program used by the United States and set aside about an hour or two to read up and be shocked.
Luckily, you can avoid most government blocks in the same manner as you avoid regional restrictions. If it looks as though you are using the internet in Paraguay, there is little the government of the country you are actually residing in will think they can do. Most governments use a form of regional blocking to enforce their censorship, and after that, they don’t have dominion of websites based in other countries (which have a more liberal look as to what websites they allow to be based in their countries). As for surveillance and tracking, there are similar ways of avoidance as the anonymity provided by the masked IP address means that any data the government collects can’t be so easily attributed to you.
There are more advanced guides on how to avoid oppressive government protection should you be blogging from such a country and writing for the freedom of your people, but the best tool is truly the VPN. All the government will be able to tell is that you are using a VPN, and that is if they are even looking in the first place. Millions of people use them so they are somewhat hard to detect, and governments don’t have the resources to track down every single user (or even some of them). This is extremely useful to the blogger who is blogging about political matters and wants unrestricted access in order to tell the full story.
If you are a travel blogger, then there is no one else who a VPN is more suited toward. While avoiding regional restrictions and getting around government censorship have already been mentioned, were you also aware that you can use a VPN to find cheaper ticket prices for when you travel? A lot of airlines like to manipulate you by having different prices for the same ticket depending on which part of the world you are browsing the internet from. If you can appear as though you are from almost any part of the world, then you can see all of the different prices available. At this point you can select the least expensive option and possibly save a few hundred dollars. This can make a VPN pay for itself and then some.
Also, have you considered the amount of unsecure networks you use while you are travelling? Hotels and airports often don’t put too much effort into the security frameworks of their public networks, and you shouldn’t have any faith in them as well. As previously mentioned, hackers love to lurk on those types of territories, especially with distracted tourists about. With a VPN, you don’t have to worry about what you look at over these networks or whether your identity is going to be stolen in a faraway land, leaving you with no options.
Finally, you have to consider the countries that you are travelling to in terms of how restrictive they are with the internet. Are any of the websites you commonly use blocked or restricted in the country you are travelling to? What is the general internet situation there? Is there a need for enhanced privacy? There are a host of reasons to get a VPN while travelling and blogging, all you need is one.
VPNs are a clear benefit to any blog and a layer of security for the blogger. Do you have any experience with them already? Are you planning to get one now that you know more about them now? Please leave a comment below and tell us what you are thinking, as we’d love to hear your opinion.
That’s it! Hope you enjoyed these tips. Now if you have any queries then you can ask us via comment section.
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