The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Everyone has heard of a couple of different websites to watch movies for free if you don’t want to pay for the theaters. I’ve known about these (illegal) movie websites since I first started using the internet. They are no secret anymore to most people who frequently use the internet. They aren’t the only websites either that most use to get around paywalls.
For the sake of this article, my usage of these websites is a joke. However, sometimes using websites like these does come with a price. Not only movie websites but shopping or just generally browsing.
Over the summer I experienced the scary side of the internet. One day after exploring one of these websites, I got a notification from Safari that someone had tried to hack my IP address. Luckily it said Safari had stopped the person, but when I saw that notification my heart stopped. I never use Safari, preferring Chrome. Chrome does not notify you of things like that, so the realization that what just happened could have not been the only time was horrifying. If it wasn’t for some smart features of Safari and Chrome, my computer and IP could have been hacked. It would be so easy for someone with much more hacking experience.
Heart thumping, I immediately started doing research into VPNs. I already knew of VPNs. Anyone who had an iPad or Mac in high school or middle school definitely has. It was the bane of our existence. It blocked certain websites and allowed our teachers to track our screens. I hated VPNs. The idea of getting a VPN on my Mac in college sounded horrifying, despite me knowing the large benefits of them. But after this summer’s scare, I knew I needed to look further into them.
I reached out to my brothers, who are on the internet all the time. They gave me a few pieces of advice and VPNs they knew friends had. One mentioned was NordVPN. I started doing research into VPNs offered online and their benefits and prices.
NordVPN works with many different computers or phones with many types and brands, for wireless and other platforms too. It’s been released for nine years, and it promises some of the best cybersecurity out there. What does a VPN do? It keeps your internet traffic private, rerouting your IP address and scrambling your traffic. VPNs don’t record any of your information either.
After doing research, NordVPN seemed like the best option for me. My next concern was the price. I did not want to spend a ton of money, but after looking into prices I was pleasantly surprised. Nord specifically has many plans and deals that make the cost worth it. All the time they are offering deals on their page, like right now for Black Friday! There are also prices based on how many months or years you want. It is $11.95/month for a one-month plan and $4.92/month for a year. The deal I went with was the two-year plan. Right now the two-year plan is $3.29/month with the Black Friday deal. That comes out to be about $85 with tax.
About three dollars a month is less than Netflix a month, and many other streaming websites that people use. It’s less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks. When I got Nord, I had a similar deal and paid about the same price. How could I not have an extra layer of security for two years for that amazing deal?
So far the VPN has been great! It was easy to set up and connect too. I do feel a lot more secure when I use the internet and shop online. I haven’t received another notification from Safari or Chrome about someone trying to hack me, so that’s a plus!
Some only downfalls are that my internet will now not work unless I’m connected to the VPN, similar to my high school experience. There really hasn’t been a time where my VPN wouldn’t connect for more than a minute, but I have noticed that unfortunate feature. Another downside is that my Hulu won’t work on my computer anymore (not that I use Hulu much) and some Netflix shows won’t show up on my computer. I have no idea why it does that, but luckily there are not many shows I’m dying to watch that I can’t. There’s probably a way to fix it but I’m too lazy.
Now, you might be asking yourself why should I invest in a VPN if I don’t use movie websites or have nothing to hide? Well, that’s a good question. I’m a 20-year-old girl from Kansas. I have nothing to hide either. It still would be terrifying if someone hacked my IP, but other than that I’m not some spy or anything.
After doing more research I found that people can hack your computer through public websites. I’ve always known that, but I didn’t worry about it. After this summer when I was in Lawrence, I frequented many random coffee shops to work on my summer class. Doing more research made me realize hooking up to random Wifi at random coffee shops might not be the safest thing. Another issue is my credit card and other passwords that I have saved on my computer, including my bank and health records. So while I’m not important enough for someone to hack and steal my identity, I do have money in my bank.
There is just so much that could go wrong, and as I continue to use the internet I want to stay safe and protected. Of course, there are still ways people could get around the VPN walls if they are experts. It is not the internet cybersecurity the CIA has or anything. However, it is another wall of protection. Just a couple more layers that can easily protect you.
I see no harm in trying a VPN. I do recommend doing more research if you are now interested. Nord offers a 30-day free trial as well.
Seeing the little Nord symbol at the top of my computer reassures me, and the green light signaling I’m protected shows it has my back as I shop on random websites. I hope this article has given you a little more insight into the big topic of cyber security and how to protect yourself in this day and age of the internet!