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Many of us don't know too much about internet security, which is exactly why the world wide web can be such a dangerous place.
This rings especially true in Australia's pandemic-addled economy, where people are using the internet more than ever before and using the same devices for both professional and personal purposes.
Now is the time for Australians to be asking questions like 'what is a VPN?' and 'Why use a VPN?'. Simply put, a VPN (or virtual private network) is a service that hides your local IP address and essentially allows you to access the internet without disclosing your geographical location and other personal data.
And why use one? Data encryption is valuable for Australian households and businesses alike, not just during COVID-19 but also as our national economy recovers from the shake-up it received over the last year.
Here are just a few instances where a VPN and other internet security practices can be an asset.
Security in Australia's eCommerce boom
It's no surprise that Australia experienced unprecedented numbers in the realm of eCommerce during the height of the pandemic, with AusPost's 2020 Industry Report recording that over 5.2 million Australian households shopped online in April 2020 alone.
This was an increase of 31 per vent when compared to the average recorded across 2019.
You can imagine, however, that with this boom in eCommerce, there has also been a significant rise in cases of digital fraud.
As digital scammers tend to rely on automation or machine learning to gather data, you'll want to ensure that your credit card information and other personal data is hidden from all eyes outside of the organisation you're doing business with.
This is how VPNs work, so you can rest assured that you can continue to shop safely and securely online without having to worry about who or what may be watching your every transaction.
Fluid rather than fixed workspaces
You may remember that during Australia's first outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020, people were scrambling to set up home offices virtually overnight, investing in ergonomic mice, docking stations for dual display set-ups, and other tech essentials to ensure they had an adequate workspace before lockdown hit.
Following the first and second waves, people did return to their offices, but many workplaces have continued to embrace a mixture between working from home and working in-house.
While this flexibility can be a huge benefit to busy families and other professionals hoping to cultivate a more sustainable work/life balance, there has been an alarmingly massive growth in Australians using the same devices for both professional and personal use, and this duality comes with its fair share of cybersecurity concerns.
Hackers can now have access to both personal and company information quite easily if allowed to do so. How can we stop this? Don't give them the opportunity.
Your VPN connection can help keep both professional and personal data secure and hidden from prying eyes. This is exactly why many IT professionals assert that a VPN and other forms of internet security are just as vital to a home office space as your computer itself.
Spikes in cybercrime
The economic uncertainties inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic have had some negative impacts in the most surprising spaces, one of these being in the digital sphere.
There has been a significant increase in scamming, phishing, and other forms of cybercrimes since the pandemic forced businesses to close their doors and trigger lay-offs across the globe.
The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has also recorded instances where scammers have been impersonating government agencies, communicating with potential targets via official looking emails and texts.
Job insecurity has sadly led to a resurgence of online scammers, as tech-savvy crims all over the world turn to the web as a desperate source of income.
Of course, these tech-savvy crims will likely be using their VPN, which is exactly why you'll use a VPN too! A great majority of scammers will give up and look elsewhere if they come across a VPN tunnel, as unencrypted data is ripe for the taking when compared with a wall of encrypted information.
Although these spikes in cybercrime can be attributed to a pandemic-addled global economy, it's essential that you take the necessary precautions to ensure that your family and workplace are safe from phishing, malicious malware, and other nasty threats that may potentially plague your network. Using internet protection software can be a fantastic start.
Yet, you should also invest in a VPN to ensure that both your professional and personal data stays hidden and secure from scammers.
Now that you know how a VPN works, all you need to do now is find a VPN that's best suited for the needs of your family or business.
It's recommended that you go with a local service just to ensure that any security concerns you may have are addressed promptly and with easy communication.