Have you ever stopped to consider the last time you interacted with anything that some technology didn’t enable directly? You might think sitting up in bed with a cup of hot milk and a good book is one of the simple pleasures you can enjoy without using some tech. But think about the power to the reading light, which was generated by a utility company, which probably used gigabytes of computing power to send the juice to your home via your country’s National Grid system.

The book was probably purchased via Amazon or ordered from an online shop, which wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the Internet. And we’re guessing that the courier who carried that book to your doorstep used their company’s navigation and routing software to ensure that all the day’s deliveries were made on time. Or at least made at all.

The Internet of Things

The fact is that nowadays, it’s almost impossible to do anything if technology isn’t enabling it. With the increased use of the Internet of Things (IoT), many people can sit on the sofa watching TV and ask their smart speaker to close the curtains, turn up the heating and turn down the TV volume. If only you could do that with your partner, dog, or cat!

The dismal fact also remains that the more technology we interact with attracts and enables more internet baddies such as hackers and cyber thieves. It’s like having many doors and windows on a building; the more there are, the more opportunities for burglars to break in.

Not least, the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t only available to the good guys. If somebody can use AI to work out how to write an algorithm to help you to choose a TV show, somebody else can write one to find a clever way of phishing your bank account.

One of the best ways to protect themselves from all this potential nastiness is to install a one-click VPN – or Virtual Private Network. A VPN functions simply by placing an encrypted server between your regular home router and your internet service provider (ISP). This prevents the ISP, and for that matter, anyone else, from identifying you as an individual and hides your location. You might ask, ‘Why do I need a VPN if I’m not doing anything wrong?’ the answer might be that you aren’t doing anything you shouldn’t – but that doesn’t stop you from being a target for hackers and phishing schemes.

Life’s been good to me so far…

Imagine you just went on Facebook with a picture of the classic 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T you bought. You took it for a spin. It’s got more than enough torque to pull a tractor out of a ditch, a sassy cherry red paint job, and an exhaust note to make you sing along in gusto! What a day! OK, so you can’t run it for a few cents a day like you can an electric vehicle (EV); but what the hell, you must waste your money on something! So you get a photo of you and the love of your life leaning on the hood of your 383 Dodge. They are completely gorgeous. Their dad probably owns a brewery/golf club/ Michelin restaurant (delete as applicable) – and you post the image on Facebook. Some hacker from a shed in Siberia sees your good fortune. Immediately he’s super-jealous and out for your blood. Or, more likely, the contents of your wallet.  

Your online assailant can see from your profile that you live in Montana, and the license plate on the car (which you unwisely didn’t Photoshop out of the snap) enables the hacker to get your address from his recent visit to the Montana traffic cops’ database. So now he has your photo, home address, car registration, and partner’s Facebook profile too. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that the determined baddie will cyber-punish you and perhaps even your family for your fortunate life to date.

Movies in Miami and shows in Soho.

But choose to connect to the Internet only via a VPN when the hacker starts combing through Montana IP addresses to find you online and send you some nice ransomware and malware. He can’t see you because your encrypted server happens to be placed in Miami. Scratching his head, the hacker moves on to choose another victim.

Other beneficial aspects of using a VPN might be the inability of your ISP to keep logs of your online activity, so they can’t make money out of your data by selling it to third-party advertisers. Also, suppose you like to stream TV or watch great Sci-Fi movie content unreachable from the US, say watching a program through BBC’s flagship iPlayer service. In that case, you can choose a UK-based server from your VPN, and the geographical restriction is removed.

With all the possibilities of all your home devices being hacked and cyber criminals on your tail, there’s never been a better time to use a VPN to ensure total safety online.