The internet once seemed like a place where people could hide their real-world identities and create a totally new persona. It seemed like an environment where people could be themselves, without worrying about sensors or surveillance.
However, anyone who’s been paying attention since Edward Snowden fled the country will know that these golden days are long gone. Online surveillance is a fact of life, and it comes from multiple sources.
However, it’s still possible to become anonymous online. VPNs provide an easy way to do so (check out this NordVPN review for a great example). And there are so many reasons to embrace anonymity. Here are 5 reasons that we think make having a high-quality VPNabsolutely essential.
- Anonymity makes you much less vulnerable to hackers
These days, a huge chunk of online crime deals with identity theft and social engineering. In these types of attacks, criminals seek to find out as much information as possible about their targets. With that information in their possession, they can do a number of things.
If they want to break into social media accounts or bank accounts, knowing a web user’s phone number, home address, and information like their name and age is invaluable. More importantly, if criminals can build in-depth profiles of their targets, they can create emails or fake websites which look indistinguishable from the real thing.
By anonymizing your IP address and encrypting your traffic, you can effectively place a barrier between yourself and online criminals. 99 times out of 100, when they encounter this barrier, criminals will simply head elsewhere. So the risk of phishing and identity theft is much, much lower.
- Freedom of speech isn’t guaranteed
Another great reason to make online anonymity a core part of your digital life is free speech.
This obviously applies if you live or travel to repressive countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, or China. In those cases, governments actively scour the web for politically sensitive conversations (or people posting Winnie the Pooh memes). And by shielding your identity, you can probably put the state off your scent.
But online censorship extends well beyond the Great Firewall of China. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are clamping down on certain forms of speech and seeking to sanitize their reputations.
By anonymizing your online identity, you can evade the gaze of corporate or state censors alike, and post whatever you want, on whatever platforms you desire.
- Surveillance is an ever-present threat
If there’s one thing that Edward Snowden taught us (and actually, there’s quite a lot), it’s that the surveillance state is real, and is a global threat to civil liberties.
Snowden’s leaks from the National Security Agency showed that the US government was routinely collecting communications from its citizens, and almost every tech company complied with requests for backdoors and data retention.
And this craving for personal data isn’t an American addiction. Any nation could be spying on you right now, especially those within the so-called “14 eyes” group of intelligence-sharing countries.
So, how can anonymity help? Well, as we noted earlier, it provides a shield against snoopers. Pure and simply, a good VPN will make life incredibly hard for spies – even those at the heart of the NSA. So if you choose a VPN with excellent leak protection and uncrackable encryption, you can relax.
- Anonymity can actually save you money
Going anonymous isn’t all about evading states or criminals. Having the ability to hide your real identity can also help you save money when purchasing all sorts of products.
For instance, flight booking sites have started to employ sophisticated geo-filters. These filters take your IP address and derive your location. By linking that location to demographic data about incomes, sites can work out roughly how much you’d be willing to pay for flights. And this can vary hugely by region or nation.
Download a good VPN and give it a try. Instead of using your current location, route your traffic through Indonesia or South Africa, and see how the prices of flights change. You’ll be amazed by what you find.
We can expect this kind of pricing strategy to expand in the future, as companies seek to maximize their online revenues. But by becoming anonymous, you can beat their filtering systems and always find the best possible deals.
- Guard against stalking and other nasty activities
It’s sad to report, but sometimes the internet can be a dangerous place. We’ve all heard about cases of people being cyber-stalked by ex-partners. While the experience is always stressful, many of these cases have led to real-world harm.
The same goes for cyber-bullying, which seems to be rife in online forums where teenagers gather. But anonymity provides a partial solution to these issues.
By deleting sites containing personal information from Google or social networks, you can make it harder for malevolent actors to gather the information they desire. And by using VPNs to hide your IP, you can protect yourself against attackers with hacking skills.
Source the right tools to enhance your online anonymity
As we’ve seen, anonymity offers plenty of benefits in the digital world, whether you’re seeking protection against cyber-stalkers, thieves, bullies, or state snoopers.
To ensure you have maximum protection, make sure you have a tight password game and keep the personal data you share to a minimum. Above all, get hold of a strong VPN like HideMyAss or ExpressVPN and give yourself the chance to disappear.