Do you need a VPN? (Virtual Private Network guide)

A VPN encrypts all data between your PC and the host website. It provides a level of protection against cyber criminals seeing what you type, see, and do on the internet.

For example, if you do Internet banking, your login details, passwords etc, are encrypted (scrambled). If you download pirate video, your IP address is anonymised, so they don’t know it is you. And if you view questionable content – ditto. Most importantly, it can stop ‘man in the middle’ snooping at public Wi-Fi sites.

In reality, if you only access the Internet from your home, then a VPN is not mandatory IF you have a good antivirus/malware program. And with the uptake of multi-factor authentication for banking, you are reasonably well protected as only you can access your bank account by providing an SMS verification code.

For those who may need one, here is a brief guide.

What is a VPN?

It is a secure, encrypted, virtual tunnel between your device and a VPN server. This un-encrypts that data and passes you to the website or app you’re trying to connect to.


  • As a VPN connection encrypts your data, your ISP or a cybercriminal cannot view your activity online.
  • You can use a VPN server to get around geo-blocks (access content from other countries).
  • If you have a VPN app on your phone or laptop, it is safe to use public Wi-Fi.

Limitations (of some VPN providers)

  • Limit the content you can access, e.g., pirate video sites.
  • Keep logs that law enforcement can access.
  • Reduce the download/upload speeds.
  • Have limits on the amount of data you can use.
  • Don’t have local servers and have long, lag times.
  • Some banks and online shops don’t work with VPNs – they should.

Free versus paid VPNs

Never use a free VPN. The majority are spyware, malware, or scamware and are China-based. Repeat – don’t do it.

You must be aware of some issues with VPN packages as part of antivirus/malware packages. Many don’t allow torrents (P2P pirate video), won’t circumvent geo-blocking, impose download limits, keep logs, and have limited servers, so lag times can be long. Some don’t support all major operating systems.

Paid VPNs like Private Internet Access (PIA) or Nord VPN are more liberal in the content you can access, have a no-logs policy and have Australian servers that minimally slow down Internet speeds. PIA costs A$36 per year for a 3-year subscription ($65 for a 1-year).

How do you install it?

Download a paid App and install it. Apart from entering your username and password, it automatically sets up on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Chrome, Linux and even some smart TVs. You can let it run all the time or launch it when needed.

We recommend TOP10VPN for unbiased VPN reviews.

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