Your data is the most valuable thing to companies and organizations around the world. Whether it’s your browsing habits being harvested or your devices being hacked by cybercriminals, not securing yourself online is the same as leaving your front door wide open.

Take your IP address, for example. We all have one assigned to each of our devices whenever we go online. Your IP address is visible to your internet service provider and cybercriminals, who could easily spy on your activity if you haven’t secured your internet connection using a VPN. If your IP address got stolen, it could reveal your exact location, what you do online, the people and places you visit, and leave you open to cyberattacks. 

Since our privacy and therefore security are at risk online, tracking is becoming a major political issue. Websites track your behavior, often hiking up prices each time you visit, and your internet service provider (ISP) is legally allowed to track, store, and sell your activity to advertising agencies and authorities.

These are the issues currently responsible for the relentless ads you get online or the scam emails and dodgy text messages you might receive. Your personal information could be sitting in global surveillance systems, and you can quite easily be monitored by authorities and government organizations if you don’t secure yourself online.

Luckily, you can claim back your privacy and secure yourself by using a VPN app. VPN, which stands for virtual private network, is the technology of routing everything you do online through a private tunnel, making you virtually untraceable online. All you have to do is switch the VPN app on and let it work its magic.

A word of caution, though: with so many free VPN apps available, it might seem silly to pay for a premium app like NordVPN, for instance. However, paid VPNs ensure your information is hidden with the best, strongest encryption possible and won’t ever be shared with third parties, which, ironically, is how most free VPNs make their money.     

But your security and privacy aren’t the only things a VPN can help you with. VPNs are also masters at:

  1. Unblocking websites abroad: Certain websites are blocked in other countries, but, if you use a VPN, your IP address is hidden, so the website can’t detect what country you’re connecting from. (NordVPN lets you connect from 60 countries).
  1. Getting cheaper flights and shopping deals: Airline websites often hike up the prices every time you return to search for flight deals, and they know you’re a returning customer by scanning your IP address. Since a VPN hides your IP address, websites are forced to give you the same prices no matter how many times you visit.
  1. Giving you fairer internet speeds: You may not know this, but your ISP throttles your speed to give all users fair, average speeds. This may happen at peak times or if you’re consuming a lot of bandwidth by streaming a lot, playing games, or downloading large files. A VPN hides everything you do online from your ISP, so they can’t target you and throttle your speed.
  1. Protecting you from cybercriminals on public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi hotspots aren’t secure or encrypted. This means that cybercriminals can intercept the connection, see that your phone is connected to it and what you’re doing online, and infiltrate your device. Switching on your VPN app, while you’re connected will encrypt your connection, and hide your device and activity from snoopers.

It’s a good time to start thinking about your privacy, considering the global surveillance operations in place around the world and other tracking tools currently being tested in the UK by the police, which could legally track the online activity of every person in the country.

Premium VPNs like NordVPN will give you the most powerful protection at the best price. What we also found useful is their unique CyberSec feature that flags suspicious websites to protect you from having your data stolen as a visitor. It also reduces pop-up ads, has an app for laptops, smartphones, PCs, and tablets, and can even be installed on your router.

While we’re still discussing privacy laws and the extent to which we should be surveilled in the name of national security, VPNs will likely be a big part of our everyday lives. It’s one app to secure your identity, protect your devices, and preserve your right to privacy. You can learn more about VPNs here, or buy NordVPN here and get 72% off their 2-year plan + 3 months for free.

This article is published in collaboration with NordVPN.