According to cybersecurity company PC Matic, VPN usage has surged to 6.26% in 2019 – compared to 1.57% just a decade prior. That’s over 20.5 million people using VPNs in the US, and that’s not accounting for the recent increase due to the pandemic.
The latter situation is understandable. With more people working from home, company data is exposed to more security risks. Not everybody is a tech wiz, so people have been signing up to the best American VPN services to enhance their network security with just a few clicks.
How? Well, a VPN encrypts (i.e. obfuscates) your data as it’s sent over the Internet. This means your work files, credit card info, email logins, and other valuable data is kept safe from cyber criminals. It’s especially useful over free Wi-Fi in public spaces, which can be teeming with hackers looking for a quick cash-out from unsuspecting victims.
But why else is VPN usage so widespread in the US? Let’s find out.
ISPs Are Selling Peoples’ Data
US ISPs have a poor track record when it comes to, well, mostly everything. From monopolistic practices, to poor customer service and slow Internet speeds, you’d be hard-pressed to find somebody praising their US Internet provider.
The icing on the bad-tasting cake is that they can sell your browsing history to advertisers. Moreover, it’s perfectly legal to do so thanks to the ISP Privacy Bill of 2017. Some states (such as Maine) have taken action against these shady practices with privacy laws of their own.
What did ISPs do in return? Did they try to cut back on data collection or stop selling it to unknown third parties? No, ISPs have fired back by suing the state of Maine and claiming the law infringes upon their First Amendment rights. Yeah, a great sign for their “spotless” reputation.
In any case, such behavior means using a VPN in the US is pretty much necessary, unless you’re okay with your data profile being sold off to thousands of online advertisers. Aside from keeping you safe from hackers, VPN encryption also prevents your ISP from seeing what you do online. As you can imagine, advertisers won’t pay for your garbled, encrypted data. Also, do check out: 5 Easy Ways to Downloads Torrents on iPhone & iPad – No Jailbreak Required.
They Want to Shop Cheaper
Thanks to geographic segmentation, it’s not uncommon for you to see a different price for certain items depending on the state you’re in. It’s even worse for virtual goods, like airline tickets or pre-booking a hotel room abroad. Airlines and other online sellers set their prices based on the perceived purchasing power of a country.
As such, the US and other affluent countries get worse deals, even if the people aren’t necessarily better off. Fortunately, using a VPN might help you get around regional pricing practices. When you connect to a VPN, your IP address (and thus your real life location) is masked and replaced with the VPN server’s.
You could be in Wisconsin, but your device’s connection would appear to come from California, or somewhere in Asia. It all depends on which areas your provider has servers in. Suffice to say, you can save a lot of money online using a VPN.
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People Are Bored
Pretty straightforward. Being stuck inside is nobody’s idea of a good time, so people need to find ways to entertain themselves. One of those ways is using a VPN to watch shows from Netflix’s international libraries, or gaining access to entirely new streaming platforms that are unavailable in the US.
It’s the same principle that allows you to shop cheaper online. By switching regions with a VPN, Netflix and co. will see you as a user from the “correct area.” It’s a great way to watch BBC iPlayer shows outside the UK, for example.
Of course, you’ll need a good provider that uses VPN obfuscation to hide the fact that you’re using one. Streaming platforms are aware people are using VPNs to bypass geo-restrictions, so they tend to filter them out – and quite effectively, at that. This means you’re unlikely to get anywhere with a free VPN. And even if you could, the small data caps imposed by free providers barely allow you to watch a couple of episodes before it’s up.
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Save yourself the trouble and try out one of the providers linked at the beginning of this article. You benefit from robust, 30-day money-back guarantees and free trials where applicable, so you can try them out yourself without putting a dent in your wallet.