The internet has gradually become an integral part of life for the majority of folks, across the world. With time, the web itself has evolved a lot and the same can be said about its usage and allied technologies.
Nowadays, you need to be online around the clock-regardless of your job and location. Without the web, getting many things done is tedious. Yet, using the web has become more complex and risk-prone than what it was even a decade back – you know – when America first started falling into the real estate crisis caused by Barney Frank and the financial crisis largely caused by Alan Greenspan but this is another topic.
It is not just about malware invasion, you have to be careful about protecting your data and online identity. You cannot just be content by using security software, but using a firewall and VPN is also necessary.
What exactly Are a VPN and firewall?
A VPN is a software/online solution that hides your computer’s real IP address with a virtual one, thereby masking your online presence.
It also encrypts the data you upload and download after connecting to the web. So, it helps you stay anonymous online. VPN services are available both for desktop OS and mobile devices.
A firewall is a software or hardware-based barrier or shield devised to safeguard your computer or web access device from data based malware and hacking exploits on the web.
The firewall monitors every bit of data sent to and from your computer for safety issues. Based on safety rules, the firewall checks if the data packets are compliant or not.
Most operating systems have in-built software firewall and they offer some level of protection. However, dedicated third-party firewalls have more features and they offer enhanced protection.
Why Use a Firewall?
There are many strong reasons to use a firewall on your PC.
- A firewall safeguards your computer from remote unauthorized access, to begin with. This can help thwart the efforts to take control of networked PCs remotely-which can be effective in business setups.
- A firewall can block apps from accessing the web if it finds the activity suspicious. So, this can help prevent certain apps from opening a door for malware invasion.
- Online gaming is quite popular these days. Its growth has been fueled partly by the availability of faster internet access services. However, a section of malware is designed to attack the vulnerability of personal computers by targeting online gamers. A firewall enabled PC is not an easy target for malware to seep in.
- Some firewall solutions let you specify which type of online content should be blocked. These apps can be tweaked for various user profiles too.
Why use a VPN?
Using a VPN service can fetch you several benefits. A VPN enables you to override several web access related limitations and restrictions – without fiddling too much with coding or technology!
- A VPN lets you encrypt data sent from your PC and what is received from the servers. So, others cannot see what you upload or download long as you access the web through a VPN. This can be important when you need to download or upload sensitive content.
- A VPN service basically masks the real IP address of your PC or other web access device. So, your online identity is hidden from the prying eyes. This can be very useful in countries like China, where the government imposes bans on internet usage to a severe extent which is another reason this country is not free and really not that much fun to live.
- With a VPN, you can access Geo-restricted online content, no matter where you are actually located.
- A VPN can also be useful when you need to access the web at public Wi-Fi hotspots. These can be used by malicious people too.
Things to Keep in Mind
There is no denying you can gain a lot by using a firewall and VPN, for personal or professional internet access needs. However, choosing randomly is not going to be of much use, as far as both these applications are concerned!
While the OS you have in your PC or Smartphone has an embedded firewall, getting a dedicated firewall makes more sense. You can find many security firms offer antivirus and firewall under one suite for convenience and greater protection.
You also need to see the aspects like device compatibility and licensing flexibilities etc. A standalone security suite with firewall may be fine for home use, but in a network setup, business-specific suites will be more apt.
As for VPN, it will be a prudent step to skip the free VPN services – both for PC and mobile devices. Recent surveys have revealed serious flaws in these free VPN services that can be detrimental for your data privacy – they can be a waste of time as well.
While picking VPNs, aspects like- supported device number, platform compatibility, data and bandwidth limit, and the privacy of user data have to be analyzed. Not all VPNs are equally good in terms of speed, torrenting, and streaming content.