The First Leg Of Your Network Connection Is The Most Dangerous
The most important benefit of a VPN for most users might be protection of the first leg of the network connection to the internet.
Examples of the first leg of the internet network connection include:
- The local coffee-shop wifi network
- The local Fedex shop’s connection – you know, when you go there and want to log into your gmail on one of their computers to collect a document for printing
- The hotel internet connection
- Your home internet connection
- Your phone’s cellular connectoin
Those are the kinds of connections that bad actors are likely monitoring.
“Bad actors” can be hackers but they can also be people you should trust but can’t – like your mobile vendor (ATT, Verizon, China Telecom etc.) who are collecting your browsing activities and meta data for eventual sale to other companies.
This is why a VPN tunnel is so important. It helps to encrypt that first leg of the network connection. For the most part a lot of websites and apps you use already encrypt that connection. But by using a VPN tunnel you can guard against:
- Data collection of your browsing habits by your ISP who can then sell that data to others or marry it to data purchased from others to develop very intimate profiles of your life. This happens even if you use HTTPS or TLS for your connection to websites.
- Leaking of data by apps or sites that might accidentally send non-encrypted data or use weak encryption (happens more often that you think because developers are human and make mistakes)
- Leaking of data on those sites or apps that simply don’t have encryption of any kind – eg: when visiting websites in certain countries where encryption is routinely not allowed or older sites that do not use HTTPS or TLS protection.
So, whenever you do anything on the internet consider using a VPN. While some services now block you when you’re using a VPN (eg: media companies such as Netflix), most other services don’t care. So better to be safe than sorry and use a VPN whenever you can!
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